Abstract— The feasibility of using alternative and commercial sorbents for dry washing biodiesel was quantitatively examined. Rice husk ash (RHA) and Amberlite showed similar performance and their applications in adsorbing glycerol were determined by response surface methodology. A 22 face centered composite design was employed to analyze the combined effect of sorbent concentration and temperature on glycerol removal. The statistical analysis indicated that levels of 2.1% (RHA) and 3.7% (Amberlite) at 30 ºC maximized the glycerol removal with minimum loss of adsorbate. Under optimal conditions, the sorbents were used for purifying ethyl biodiesel samples from palm kernel oil. Both sorbents were quite efficient in removing glycerol, providing samples containing glycerol values lower than 0.01% that meet the required standard to be used as a fuel. The high quality of the purified samples was also demonstrated by the ethyl esters contents (> 98.0%), viscosity (< 4.0 mm2 s-1) and density (@ 867 kg m-3) values. Rice husk ash was also able to remove monoacylglycerols and diacylglycerols, thus its structure, composition and adsorption kinetics were further assessed to better understand its property as sorbent
Keywords— Biodiesel, dry washing, glycerol, sorbent, factorial design.
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