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Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering

Vol. 31, No. 02, pp. 271 - 285, April - June, 2014


C. da Silva1* and J. Vladimir Oliveira2

1Department of Technology, Phone: + (55) (44) 36219335, Fax: + (55) (44) 36219326, Maringá State University, UEM, 87506-370, Umuarama - PR, Brazil.


2Department of Chemical and Food Engineering, UFSC, 88040-900, Florianópolis - SC, Brazil.

(Submitted: March 20, 2013 ; Revised: October 2, 2013 ; Accepted: October 2, 2013)

Abstract - The inconveniences of the conventional method for biodiesel production by alkaline catalysis suggests research towards alternative methods, with the non-catalytic transesterification using an alcohol at supercritical conditions proposed as a promising technique for biodiesel production.



better combustion emissions profile, such as reduced levels of particulate matter and carbon monoxide and, under some conditions, nitrogen oxides (Altin et al., 2001; McCornick et al., 2001; Meher et al., 2006).

The most common way to produce biodiesel is widely known to be via a transesterification reaction (Srivastava and Prasad, 2000), which is convention- ally performed using alkaline, acid or enzyme catalysts (Meher et al., 2006). The conventional alkali- catalyzed process affords high levels of conversion of triglycerides to their corresponding fatty acid alkyl esters in short reaction times, but has some disadvan- tages such as the large volume of waste water generated and feedstock flexibility (Meher et al., 2006; Abbaszaadeh et al., 2012). Transesterification

Research into alternative sources of renewable energy has been largely stimulated by the increasing energetic demand and the need to gradually reduce the consumption of fossil fuels on account of their detrimental effect on the environment. Biodiesel, fatty acid ethyl (FAEE) or methyl (FAME) esters, has been recognized as a relevant alternative fuel to mineral diesel, either as an additive or replacement, because of the well-known environmental and economical benefits. Its merits include a non-toxic, biodegrad- able, domestically produced and renewable resource (Srivastava and Prasad, 2000; Fukuda et al., 2001; Meher et al., 2006). Besides, this biofuel has a cetane number higher than diesel from petroleum and a

ISSN 0104-6632 Printed in Brazil

The so-called

supercritical method (SCM) has powerful advantages over conventional techniques, such as fast reaction rates, feedstock flexibility, production efficiency and environmentally friendly benefits. However, application of this methodology has some limitations, like operating conditions (elevated temperature and pressure and higher amounts of alcohol), which result in high energy costs and degradation of the products generated. In this review paper the state of the art in relation to the use of the SCM for biodiesel production is reported and discussed, describing the characteristics of the method, the influence of operational parameters on the ester

yield, patents available in the field and the perspectives for application of the technique.

Non-catalytic; Transesterification; Supercritical method; Biodiesel; Vegetable oils.

*To whom correspondence should be addressed

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