Abstract— The rising market in biofuels has been encouraging researchers to develop new routes for biodiesel production in order to increase the yields of the process. Heterogeneous acid catalysts represent an alternative to avoid the traditional alkaline pathway for producing alkyl esters from oils with a high content of free fatty acids. In this study, sulfated – niobium oxide catalyst was developed by impregnating Nb2O5 with H2SO4 (0.5 mol/L) and used to carry out simultaneous esterification and transesterification of andiroba (Carapa guianensis) oil with high free fatty acid content (acid value: 33.1 mg KOH/g). Reactions were performed with anhydrous ethanol under different conditions of temperature and molar ratio of oil to ethanol, using the SO42‑/Nb2O5, catalyst at 5% (w/w reaction mixture). The oil conversion was determined by the 1H-NMR spectroscopy method and the maximum conversion of andiroba oil into ethyl esters was 90.9%, which was achieved in a pressurized reactor.
Keywords— Acid oil, esterification/transesterification, ethyl esters, free fatty acids, niobium oxide-sulfate.
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