Optimum reaction time, performance and exhaust emissions of biodiesel produced by microwave irradiation

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While transesterification is well established, there remain considerable inefficiencies in existing transesterification processes. In this study an alternative energy stimulant, ‘‘microwave irradiation’’ was used for the production of the alternative energy source, biodiesel. The optimum parametric conditions obtained from the conventional technique were applied using microwave irradiation in order to compare both systems. The results showed that application of radio frequency microwave energy offers a fast, easy route to this valuable biofuel with advantages of enhancing the reaction rate and improving the separation process. The methodology allows for the use of high free fatty acid content feedstock, including used cooking oil; hence it helps to reduce the cost of production which constitutes a major hurdle towards widespread commercialization of biodiesel. The study also showed that the optimum reaction time for microwave-enhanced biodiesel production should be highly respected. Exceeding the optimum reaction time will lead to deterioration of both biodiesel yield and purity. This paper also reported the performance and exhaust emissions from a diesel engine when fuelled with a petroleum diesel fuel and two different biodiesel fuels; one obtained by the conventional technique and the other by microwave irradiation. It was concluded that microwave-enhanced biodiesel is not, at least, inferior to that produced by the conventional technique.

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