A Comparison Study of the Metal Oxide Catalysts for the Conversion of Used Cooking Oil into High Grade Chemicals
Cracking of edible oils occurs at high temperature and forms valued low molecular weight
chemical species. The aim of the current study was to find a catalyst which can break these heavy
molecules at the lower ranges of temperatures. From the analysis prospective, the non-condensable
hydrocarbons (gaseous product species) were not determined and reactions study was carried out
in a batch reactor. There was no evident conversion up to a temperature of 450 °C in the absence
of catalyst whereas the reaction mixture was left inside a batch reactor for a long duration of an
hour. Reaction parameters, such as catalyst types (ZnO and Al2O3), amount of catalyst, reaction
temperature, residence or holding time, and heating rate to reach a reaction temperature were
systematically examined. Powdered form of catalyst samples (ZnO and Al2O3) were characterized
by using XRD, EDX, and Nitrogen adsorption isotherms. Temperatures studied over ZnO catalyst
were 400 °C, 425 °C, 450 °C, 475 °C, and 500 °C. The maximum oil conversion was 81 % at a
temperature of 450 °C. We observed that the conversion increases from 400 °C to 450 °C, whereas
above 450 °C it starts to decrease. However, in comparison to ZnO catalyst the reaction rate was
much higher over the Al2O3, i.e. a considerable conversion occurred at lower ranges of
temperatures. Thus here a different set of temperatures (330 °C, 370 °C, 390 °C, 410 °C, and
430°C) were used. When reacting for an hour at a temperature of 390 °C, and in the presence of 8
wt.% of Al2O3 (same catalyst mass was used in ZnO reacting system) the conversion reached to 71
%. Above 390 °C the conversion decreased. Over both tested metal oxide catalysts the caloric
value, density, flash point, and kinematic viscosity of the liquid product species were similar to
petro fuels. The XRD and EDX signature of the catalyst samples corresponds to the standard ZnO
and Al2O3 patterns. Finally, when compared to ZnO the better activity over the Al2O3 (higher
conversion at lower temperature) catalyst can be linked with a high external surface area.
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