Biodiesel produced using potassium methoxide homogeneous alkaline catalyst: effects of various factors on soap formation

Issara Chanakaewsomboon, Khamphe Phoungthong, Arkom Palamanit, Vatcharee Seechamnanturakit, Chin Kui Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


During transesterification reactions, catalyst content, free fatty acids (FFA), and water content affect the final ester content, which is also impacted by soap formation that is yet to be completely elucidated. This research aimed to examine the effects of reaction time (0–10 min), FFA content (0.2–1.1 wt%), and potassium methoxide amount (KOCH3 0.5–2.42 wt%) during the transesterification reaction of refined palm oil containing 0.49 wt% FFA. Soap formation occurred during the first few seconds of the reaction, and then, the soap content remained relatively constant. From a microscopic point view, soap should act as a mass-diffusion barrier reducing reactant mass fluxes to the reaction zone. High FFA content in palm oil causes high soap formation. A high-water content leads to soap formation in FAME and RPO. FFA contributes to soap formation due to neutralization and saponification reactions. It was found that the optimal catalyst content to meet biodiesel property standards (i.e., particularly that the ester content is greater than 96.5%) was 1.0 wt% of oil. Catalyst addition below 0.7 wt % resulted in diesel that did not meet the required ester content standard. Catalyst addition exceeding 1% did not improve the conversion further, but it increases the production costs. Regarding the effects of the type of catalyst on the 2nd step transesterification of FAME, the use of potassium hydroxide showed more soap formation than potassium methoxide. The results suggest that the drawbacks associated with high catalyst utilization should be addressed. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageBritish English
JournalBiomass Conversion and Biorefinery
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Biodiesel
  • Catalyst
  • Free fatty acid
  • Saponification
  • Soap formation
  • Transesterification


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