Qualitative role of heterogeneous catalysts in biodiesel production from Jatropha curcas oil

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria.

2 Department of Chemical Engineering, Durban University of Technology, South Africa.


Biodiesel properties are in general attributed to the composition and properties of the oil feedstock used, overlooking the possible impacts of the catalyst preparation details. In light of that, the impacts of different catalyst preparation techniques alongside those of different support materials on the yield, composition, and fuel properties of biodiesels produced from the same oil feedstock were investigated. More specifically, tri-metallic (Fe-Co-Ni) catalyst was synthesized through two different techniques (green synthesis and wet impregnation) using MgO or ZnO as support material. The generated catalyst pairs, i.e., Fe-Co-Ni/MgO and Fe-Co-Ni/ZnO prepared by wet impregnation and Fe-Co-Ni-MgO and Fe-Co-Ni-ZnO prepared by green synthesis (using leaf extracts) were used in the transesterification process of Jatropha curcas oil. Detailed morphological properties, composition, thermal stability, crystalline nature, and functional groups characterization of the catalysts were also carried out. Using Box-Behnken Design response surface methodology, it was found that the green-synthesized Fe-Co-Ni-MgO catalyst resulted in the highest biodiesel yield of 97.9%. More importantly, the fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles of the biodiesels produced using the four catalysts as well as their respective fuel properties were different in spite of using the same oil feedstock.

Graphical Abstract

Qualitative role of heterogeneous catalysts in biodiesel production from Jatropha curcas oil


  • Tri-metallic (Fe-Co-Ni) catalyst was synthesized through two different techniques; green synthesis and wet impregnation.
  • Impacts of synthsis method and support material on final bioduesel product was scrutinized.
  • Catalyst support material/synthesis method influenced the yield of the produced biodiesel.
  • Catalyst support/synthesis method influenced the composition and propeties of the resultant biodiesel.
  • Green-synthesized Fe-Co-Ni-MgO catalyst led to highest biodiesel yield of 97.9%


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