Effect of Co-Solvents on Transesterification of Refined Palm Oil in Supercritical Methanol
This study examined the non-catalytic transesterification of refined palm oil, using supercritical methanol as a solvent with and without the presence of co-solvent, i.e. toluene, benzene, or hexane. Without the presence of a co-solvent, methyl esters can be produced via the non-catalytic transesterification of palm oil at 300oC, using a methanol to oil molar ratio of 45:1, with 89.4% conversion achieved after 50 min. The reaction performance could be improved by adding either benzene or toluene (with 10% v/v solvent to oil) as co-solvent to 92.1 and 95.1%, respectively, while reducing the required amount of excess methanol from 45:1 to 25:1. Under most conditions, the conversion of palm oil decreased with the addition of hexane due to its antisolvent properties.