Sonication-assisted production of biodiesel using soybean oil and supercritical methanol

Sriramulu Gobikrishnan, Jae Hee Park, Seok Hwan Park, Natarianto Indrawan, Siti Fauziyah Rahman, Don Hee Park

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12 Citations (Scopus)


High temperature and pressure are generally required to produce biodiesel using supercritical methanol. We reduced the harsh reaction conditions by means of sonicating the reaction mixture prior to transesterification using supercritical methanol. Soybean oil was selected as the raw material for transesterification. As soybean oil contains more unsaturated fatty acid triglycerides, the biodiesel degraded more at high temperature. The reactants were sonicated for 60 min at 35 °C prior to transesterification to avoid degradation of the product and to enhance biodiesel yield at temperatures <300 °C. The process parameters were optimized using central composite design. The variables selected for optimization were temperature, time, and the oil to methanol molar ratio. The temperature and oil to methanol molar ratios were varied from 250 to 280 °C and 1:40-1:50, respectively. The reaction time was tested between 4 and 12 min. The biodiesel was analyzed for any possible degradation by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy and for the wt% of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) obtained. The maximum FAME yield (84.2 wt%) was obtained at a temperature of 265.7 °C, an oil to alcohol molar ratio of 1:44.7, and a time of 8.8 min. The optimum yield was obtained at a pressure of 1,500 psi. The pressure and optimum temperature used to obtain the maximum yield were the lowest reported so far without the use of a co-solvent. Thus, the severity of the supercritical reactions was reduced by adding sonication prior to the reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-712
Number of pages8
JournalBioprocess and Biosystems Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Biodiesel
  • CCD
  • Optimization
  • Sonication
  • Supercritical methanol


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