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Title:
SOLID, HETEROGENEOUS CATALYSTS AND METHODS OF USE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/020053
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Solid mixed catalysts and methods for use in conversion of triglycerides and free fatty acids to biodiesel are described. A batch or continuous process may be used with the catalysts for transesterification of triglycerides with an alkyl alcohol to produce corresponding mono carboxylic acid esters and glycerol in high yields and purity. Similarly, alkyl and aryl carboxylic acids and free fatty acids are also converted to corresponding alkyl esters. The described catalysts are thermostable, long lasting, and highly active.

Inventors:
SINGH, Inder Pal (4624-43A Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6L 6L9, CA)
SINGH, Shradha (4624-43A Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6L 6L9, CA)
PATEL, Ritesh (#103, 1620-48 StreetEdmonton, Alberta T6L 5P1, CA)
MISTRY, Bharat (2320-28 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6T 1A4, CA)
MEHTA, Manish (#101, 8115-29 AvenueEdmonton, Alberta T6K 3M7, CA)
OTIENO, Peter Omolo (1820-56 Street NW, Unit 35Edmonton, Alberta T6L 5L4, CA)
Application Number:
CA2009/001165
Publication Date:
February 25, 2010
Filing Date:
August 20, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SBI FINE CHEMICALS INC. (4624-43A Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6L 6L9, CA)
SINGH, Inder Pal (4624-43A Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6L 6L9, CA)
SINGH, Shradha (4624-43A Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6L 6L9, CA)
PATEL, Ritesh (#103, 1620-48 StreetEdmonton, Alberta T6L 5P1, CA)
MISTRY, Bharat (2320-28 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6T 1A4, CA)
MEHTA, Manish (#101, 8115-29 AvenueEdmonton, Alberta T6K 3M7, CA)
OTIENO, Peter Omolo (1820-56 Street NW, Unit 35Edmonton, Alberta T6L 5L4, CA)
International Classes:
C01B39/02; B01J21/06; B01J23/54; C07B41/12; C07C67/08; C10G3/00; C11C3/04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PARLEE MCLAWS LLP (1500 Manulife Place, -101 StreetEdmonton, Alberta T5J 4K1, 10180, CA)
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Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A solid, heterogeneous catalyst preparation for use in an esterification or transesterifϊcation reaction, the mixed catalyst preparation comprising at least one molecular sieve and at least one catalyst, wherein the catalyst comprises a metal oxide or double-metal cyanide.

2. The catalyst preparation as in claim 1, wherein the metal oxide is aluminum oxide, calcium oxide, gallium oxide, hafnium oxide, iron oxide, lanthanum oxide, silicon oxide, strontium oxide, titanium oxide, zinc oxide, or zirconium oxide.

3. The catalyst preparation as in claim 1, wherein the metal oxide is formed by calcination of a metal hydroxide.

4. The catalyst preparation as in claim 3, wherein the metal hydroxide is aluminum hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, gallium hydroxide, hafnium hydroxide, iron hydroxide, lanthanum hydroxide, silicon hydroxide, strontium hydroxide, titanium hydroxide, zinc hydroxide, or zirconium hydroxide.

5. The catalyst preparation as in claim 1, wherein the double-metal cyanide is of the general formula Fe2M3(CN)I0 wherein M is lanthanum, copper or aluminum.

6. The catalyst preparation as in any of claims 1, through 5, wherein the molecular sieve is of the type 3A, 4A, or 5A, having the general formula KnNa(I2. n)[(A102)12(Si02)12].xH20, Na12[(AlO2)i2(SiO2)12].xH2O) or CanNa02. n)[(AlO2)12(SiO2)12]. xH2O, respectively.

7. The catalyst preparation as in any of claims 1 through 6, wherein the molecular sieve is a natural or synthetic zeolite.

8. The catalyst preparation as in any of claims 1 through 7, wherein the molecular sieve has been modified to enhance the basicity of the molecular sieve.

9. The catalyst preparation as in any of claims 1 through 7, wherein the molecular sieve has been modified to replace at least one sodium ion within the molecular sieve with at least one metal cation.

10. The catalyst preparation as in claim 9, wherein the metal cation is K+ or Cs+, and wherein the modified molecular sieve has the general formula KnNa(I2. n)[(A102)i2(Si02)i2].xH20, KmCanNa{i2.(m+2n)}[(AlO2)12(Siθ2)12].xH2O, CsnNa02. n)[(AlO2)i2(SiO2)12].xH2O, or CsmCanNa{i2.(m+2n)}[(AlO2)i2(SiO2)12].xH2O.

11. The catalyst preparation as in any of the above claims, wherein the catalyst is in powdered, pelleted, or extruded form.

12. The catalyst preparation as in any of the above claims, wherein catalyst is recoverable from the reaction products by filtration.

13. The catalyst preparation as in any one of the above claims, wherein the catalyst has been calcined.

14. A catalyst of the molecular formula: X(La2O3). y(La(0H)3).z(Ti02) wherein x, y and z independently have a value between 1-2.

15. The catalyst as in claim 14 that is prepared from lanthanum oxide or lanthanum hydroxide and titanium oxide.

16. The catalyst as in claim 15, wherein titanium and lanthanum oxide are generated in situ.

17. A modified molecular sieve of the general formula KnNa(J2- n)[(AlO2)i2(Siθ2)i2].xH2O, KmCanNa{i2-(m+2n)}[(AlO2)12(SiO2)i2].xH2O, CsnNa02. n)[(Alθ2)i2(SiO2)12].xH2θ, or CsmCanNa{12-(m+2n)}[(AlO2)i2(SiO2)i2].xH2O.

18. A catalyst according to the formula a(La2O3). X(TiO2). y(ZnO).z(MS), wherein A and X are each 1; Y is 1-2, Z is 3-4, and wherein MS is a molecular sieve according to claim 18.

19. A catalyst according to the formula (Al2O3). (TiO2). (ZnO). z(MS) wherein z is 10 and wherein MS is a molecular sieve according to claim 17.

20. A catalyst according to the formula ((Fe2M3 (CN)i0}. Al2O3TiO2-ZnO. MS, wherein M is Cu, Al or La, and wherein MS is a molecular sieve according to claim 17.

21. A method for effecting esterification or transesterification of a starting material, comprising reacting the starting material with an alcohol in the presence of a solid, heterogeneous catalyst as in any of claims 1 through 20.

22. The method as in claim 21 , wherein the starting material comprises an oil.

23. The method as in claim 21, wherein the starting material comprises triglycerides.

24. The method as in claim 21, wherein the starting material comprises free fatty acids.

25. The method as in claim 21, wherein the starting material comprises carboxylic acid.

26. The method as in any of claims 21 through 25, wherein biodiesel is produced as a reaction product.

27. The method as in any of claims 21 through 25, wherein the method produces glycerol as a reaction product.

28. The method as in any of claims 21 through claim 25, wherein soap is not produced as a byproduct of the reaction.

29. The method as in any of claims 21 through 28, wherein the reaction is conducted at temperatures between 15O0C and 2500C.

30. The method as in any of claims 21 through 29, wherein the reaction is conducted at pressures less than lOOOpsi.

31. The method as in any of claims 21 through 30, wherein the reaction is conducted in a batch reactor.

32. The method as in any of claims 21 through 30, wherein the reaction is conducted continuously using a fixed bed reactor.

33. The method as in any of claims 21 through 32, wherein the reaction is conducted in two or more successive stages.

34. The method as in either of claims 32 or 33, wherein the reaction is conducted with a ratio of 0.1-2.0 volumes of injected oil/volume of catalyst per hour.

Description:
SOLID. HETEROGENEOUS CATALYSTS AND METHODS OF USE

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the priority of U.S. provisional patent application serial no. 61/090,781 filed on August 21, 2008.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to the production of biodiesel from triglycerides and free fatty acids. More particularly, the present invention relates to solid, heterogeneous catalysts for use in the production of biodiesel.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Biodiesel is a non-toxic fuel that may be used alone or blended with petroleum diesel at any ratio to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel has a high octane number, is essentially free of sulfur and aromatics, and is therefore a clean burning fuel, free of NOx and SOx.

[0004] Biodiesel is commonly produced by transesterification, the reaction of an alcohol with triglycerides present in animal fat or vegetable oil. Generally, such reactions are catalyzed by homogeneous catalysts such as mineral acids, metal hydroxide, metal alkoxides, and carbonates. As mineral acid catalyzed reactions are slow and therefore economically non-viable, metal hydroxides such as sodium or potassium hydroxides are more commonly used as they are relatively inexpensive and suitably effective. One disadvantage to using alkaline hydroxides or carbonates in transesterification reactions is the generation of soap as a reaction byproduct. The generation of soap compromises product yields and product quality. Glycerol (glycerine) is also produced as a byproduct, however the presence of water and soaps creates an emulsion that complicates the purification of biodiesel and the separation of glycerol from the fatty acid esters. Generally, copious amounts of acids and water are used to neutralize catalyst and remove soaps from the desirable reaction products. As a result, the increased number of steps required to obtain purified biodiesel and useable quality glycerol add tremendously to the cost of production, and also lead to a certain degree of environmental pollution.

[0005] The following equations illustrate the reactions that take place during transesterification to biodiesel by existing methods, using homogeneous catalysts.

+ 3 RCOOCH 3 Equation-1 Glycerol Biodiesel Triglyceride

RCOONa

RCOOH Equation-2

H 2 O

NaOH Soap Fatty Acid

RCOONa Equation-3

Glycerol Soap

Triglyceride

NaOH RCOONa Equation-4

RCOOCH 3 + H 2 O Soap Biodiesel

[0006] Further attempts have been made in the prior art to replace homogeneous catalysts with solid catalysts. Such replacement of homogeneous catalysts, for example with solid metal oxides and double metal cyanides, is perceived to have the advantages of simple retrieval of catalyst, elimination of soap formation and reduction of environmental pollutants. Further, the use of solid catalysts in place of homogeneous catalysts may lead to higher-quality esters and glycerol, which are more easily separable and without added cost to refine the resulting ester (see for example US 6,147,196 to Stern et al). In accordance with this expectation, a number of solid catalysts have now been reported in literature. These are generally based on metal oxides and double metal cyanides to effect the desired transesterification reaction shown in equation-5 below. + 3 RC00CH Equatιon-5

Glycerol Biodiesel

Triglyceride

[0007] European patent EP-80-198-243 describes a solid, heterogeneous catalyst that is based on a mixture of iron oxide with alumina. This catalyst requires a very large catalyst to oil ratio, and extended contact time of more than 6 hours. Reaction temperatures of 280°C to 320°C are typically required, which results in coloration of the biodiesel and presence of impurities.

[0008] US Patent 5,908,946 describes catalysts prepared from mixtures of zinc oxide, and alumina zinc aluminate. While the catalyst does provide complete conversion to methyl ester, long reaction times and high temperatures are required. Moreover, the reaction is sensitive to water and free fatty acids. When free fatty acid conversion is desired, an esterification step must be carried out prior to the transesterification reaction.

[0009] US Patent 7,151,187 describes catalysts made by combining two or more of titanium isopropoxide, zinc oxide, alumina, and bismuth salts using nitric acid. Use of nitric acid is not desirable, as it is corrosive, toxic, and has a negative impact on the environment. Further, the use of nitric acid also impacts the basicity of the catalyst, which may affect the transesterification reaction.

[0010] It has further been shown that exchange of sodium ions in the 4A molecular sieves (formula: Nai 2 [(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O), with either K + or Cs + leads to a material with higher basicity which is essential in heterogeneous transesterification catalysis. However, testing has shown that despite enhancement of the basic sites, these ion-exchanged zeolites failed to achieve complete transformation of triglycerides to biodiesel.

[0011] A double metal cyanide catalyst-Fe 2 Zn 3 (CN) 1 o has also been shown to transesterify oils at relatively lower temperatures. However, the slow pace of reaction leads to extended reaction time and requires excessive catalyst and reactor volume. [0012] A suitable heterogeneous catalyst and method for complete transformation of triglycerides to biodiesel and for conversion of free fatty acids to corresponding esters has not been described to date. Further, such reactions do not appear to be currently possible under mild temperature and pressure conditions, while minimizing reaction time and product purification steps.

SUMMARY

[0013] In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a solid, heterogeneous catalyst preparation for use in an esterification or transesterification reaction, the mixed catalyst preparation comprising at least one molecular sieve and at least one catalyst, wherein the catalyst comprises a metal oxide or double-metal cyanide.

[0014] In an embodiment, the metal oxide is aluminum oxide, calcium oxide, gallium oxide, hafnium oxide, iron oxide, lanthanum oxide, silicon oxide, strontium oxide, titanium oxide, zinc oxide, or zirconium oxide. The metal oxide may be formed by calcination of a metal hydroxide, for example, aluminum hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, gallium hydroxide, hafnium hydroxide, iron hydroxide, lanthanum hydroxide, silicon hydroxide, strontium hydroxide, titanium hydroxide, zinc hydroxide, or zirconium hydroxide.

[0015] In an embodiment, the double-metal cyanide is of the general formula

Fe 2 M 3 (CN) I0 wherein M is lanthanum, copper or aluminum.

[0016] In suitable embodiments, the molecular sieve may be of the type 3 A,

4A, or 5A, having the general formula K n Na ( i 2-n )[(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O, Nai 2 [(AlO 2 ) 12 (Siθ2), 2 ].xH 2 O) or Ca n Na 02-n )[(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, respectively. The molecular sieve may be, for example, a natural or synthetic zeolite. Preferably, the molecular sieve is a modified molecular sieve, modified to enhance the basicity of the molecular sieve.

[0017] Suitable modified molecular sieves may have been modified to replace at least one sodium ion within the molecular sieve with at least one metal cation. Suitable metal cations include K + , Cs + , and the like, resulting in a general formula of K n Na( 12-n )[(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O, K m Ca n Na {12- ( m+2n)} [(A10 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 0, Cs n Na 02 . n) [(Alθ 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 θ, or Cs m Ca n Na { i 2 - (m+2n)} [(A10 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 0, for example. [0018] In various embodiments, any of the catalyst preparations may be provided in powdered, pelleted, extruded, and/or calcined form. The catalyst remains heterogeneous during the reaction, and is generally recoverable from the reaction products by filtration.

[0019] In accordance with a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a catalyst of the molecular formula: X(La 2 O 3 ). y(La(0H) 3 ).z(Ti0 2 ) wherein x, y and z independently have a value between 1-2. Such catalyst may be prepared from lanthanum oxide or lanthanum hydroxide and titanium oxide, and these oxides may be prepared in situ.

[0020] In accordance with a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a modified molecular sieve of the general formula K n Na(i 2 - n) [(Alθ 2 )i 2 (Siθ 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 θ, K m Ca n Na {12 . (m+2n ) } [(Alθ 2 ) 12 (Siθ 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O, Cs n Na (12-n) [(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, or Cs m Ca n Na {12-(m+2n ) } [(AlO 2 ) 12 (Siθ 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O.

[0021] In accordance with a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a catalyst according to the formula a(La 2 O 3 ). X(TiO 2 ). y(ZnO).z(MS), wherein A and X are each 1; Y is 1-2, Z is 3-4, and wherein MS is a molecular sieve of the general formula K n Na<i 2-n) [(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, K 01 Ca n Na 02-

(m + 2n)}[(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, Cs n Na( 12-n )[(AlO 2 ) 12 (Siθ 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O, or Cs m Ca n Na { i 2-

(m +2 n)}[(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 )l 2 ].xH 2 O.

[0022] In accordance with a fifth aspect of the invention, there is provided a catalyst according to the formula (Al 2 O 3 ). (TiO 2 ).(ZnO).z(MS) wherein z is 10 and wherein MS is a molecular sieve of the general formula K n Na (I2- n) [(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, K m Ca n Na {12-(m+2n)} [(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, Cs n Na 02 . n) [(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, or Cs m Ca n Na {12-(m+2n)} [(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O.

[0023] In accordance with a sixth aspect of the invention, there is provided a catalyst according to the formula ((Fe 2 M 3 (CN)io} . Al 2 O 3 TiO 2 -ZnO. MS, wherein M is Cu, Al or La, and wherein MS is a molecular sieve of the general formula K n Na 02- n) [(A10 2 )i 2 (Si0 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 0, K m Ca n Na {12-(m+2n)} [(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, Cs n Na 02- n) [(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, or Cs m Ca n Na {12-(m+2n)} [(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O.

[0024] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for effecting esterification or transesterification of a starting material, comprising reacting the starting material with an alcohol in the presence of a solid, heterogeneous catalyst as described above.

[0025] The starting material may be an oil, and/or may comprise triglycerides, free fatty acids, and/or carboxylic acids. The method may be used to produce biodiesel and/or glycerol as a reaction product. Notably, in suitable embodiments, soap is not produced as a byproduct of the reaction.

[0026] In an embodiment, the reaction is conducted at temperatures between

15O 0 C and 250 0 C. Further, the reaction may be conducted at pressures less than lOOOpsi. In various embodiments, the reaction may be conducted in a batch reactor or continuous reactor such as a fixed bed reactor. The reaction may be conducted in two or more successive stages. In a fixed bed reactor, the reaction may be conducted with a ratio of 0.1-2.0 volumes of injected oil/volume of catalyst per hour.

DESCRIPTION

[0027] Generally, the present invention provides solid, heterogeneous catalysts and methods for use in the production of alkyl esters from a starting material containing any one or more of the following: triglycerides, free fatty acids, aromatic carboxylic acids, aliphatic carboxylic acids.

[0028] The terms "oil", "feedstock", and "starting material" as used herein refer to a substance having any detectable triglyceride and/or free fatty acid and/or carboxylic acid (whether aromatic or aliphatic) content, such as animal fats, vegetable oils, used cooking oils, and the like. Examples of vegetable oils include, without limitation, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, palm oil, coconut oil, jatropha oil, camolina oil, cottonseed oil, flax oil, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil. Examples of animal fats include, without limitation, beef tallow, pork lard, and the like. Other further starting materials may also be appropriate, such as triglycerides present in or obtained from certain types of algaes, etc.

[0029] The term "heterogeneous" as used herein with respect to solid catalysts, refers to any solid physical form of suitable catalyst, whether a catalyst is calcined or otherwise hardened, whether provided in powder, pellet, balled, or extruded form or anchored to a solid structure such as a molecular sieve or natural or synthetic solid state composition. Such catalysts are generally not solubilized during the reaction and the majority of the catalyst is recoverable from the reaction products by simple filtration.

Catalyst and Reaction Overview

[0030] Notably, the catalysts and methods may be used in the production of high yield, high purity biodiesel. Generally, the catalyst may be a metal oxide, or double metal cyanide, or mixtures of the foregoing. The catalysts are provided in solid form, for example in powdered, pelleted, or extruded form, supported on a solid structure such as a molecular sieve. The resulting catalysts are thermostable. For example, the metal oxide based catalysts described below are stable above 600°C, maintain a high level of activity even after prolonged use, provide excellent selectivity, and are insoluble in triglycerides and alkyl alcohols, preventing elution and volume loss. Further, these catalysts are not usually limited by reaction temperature and are highly tolerant of free fatty acids and water content during use. [0031] Equations describing the general reactions are represented below in

Equations 6 through 8. + R'COOR +R 11 COOR + R 111 COOR Equatιon-6

-Biodiesef-

Triglycerid Glycerol

Heterogeneous Catalyst

R 1 COOH + ROH R 1 COOR Equatιon-7

= ree Fatty acid Fatty acid ester / Biodiesel

Heterogeneous Catalyst

R 1 COOH + ROH R 1 COOR Equatιon-8

Carboxylic acid Carboxylic acid ester

[0032] In the above equations, R', R", and R'" may be the same or different, and each may be a Ci to C 22 linear or branched chain alkyl group, which may be further substituted with hydroxyl, alkoxy or halogens like chloro, bromo or fluoro or an aryl group that can be substituted with chloro, bromo, fluoro, nitro, lower alkoxy or lower alkyl such as methyl, ethyl, propyl, isopropyl or butyl which may be further substituted with halogens such as chloro, bromo fluoro or a phenyl group that can be substituted with chloro, bromo fluoro nitro, lower alkyl or alkoxy group. Further, each may represent an alkyl group of a monocarboxyllic acid such as acetic, propionic, butyric, caproic, caprilic, capric, lauric, myristic, palmitic, oleic, stearic or a dicarboxylic acid such as adipic acid, which are in an ester form with a Cl to C18 monohydric aliphatic alcohol such as methyl, ethyl, propyl, isopropyl, butyl and stearyl alcohol, a monohydric aromatic alcohol such as benzyl or substituted benzyl alcohol or a dihydric alcohol such as ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, butane diol or a polyhydric alcohol such as glycerol, sorbitol, polyerythritol, polyethylene glycol and poly propylene glycol etc.

[0033] Further, ROH in equations 6 through 8 represents suitable alcohols, including without limitation: a Ci to Ci 8 monohydric aliphatic alcohol such as methanol, ethanol, propanol, isopropanol, butyl alcohol, and stearyl alcohol; a monohydric aromatic alcohol such as benzyl alcohol or a substituted benzyl alcohol; a dihydric alcohol such as ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and butanediol; or a polyhydric alcohol such as glycerol, sorbitol, polyerythritol, polyethylene glycol, and polypropylene glycol. Other suitable alcohols may also be used, as will be apparent to those of skill in the art.

Metal OxideCatalysts

[0034] In equations 6 through 8, the catalyst may include an oxide of a metal, for example aluminum, calcium, cerium, gallium, hafnium, iron, lanthanum, magnesium, strontium, titanium, zirconium, or zinc. Such metal oxides or hydroxides may be used alone or in combination with similar or dissimilar catalysts, and the catalyst is provided in solid form. For example, the catalyst may be supported on a molecular sieve or zeolite, in which some of the sodium ions have been exchanged for potassium or cesium ions. The catalysts may be provided as a powder, pellets, balls, or extruded forms, and calcined under vacuum or in the presence of a neutral gas (such as argon, nitrogen, or helium) at temperatures between 200 0 C to 1200°C, usually between 400°C to 800°C. Such oxides may be obtained commercially or prepared from appropriate metal halide, hydroxide, or a metal nitrate.

Double Metal Cyanide Catalysts

[0035] In equations 6 through 8, the catalyst may include a double metal cyanide of the general formula Fe 2 M 3 (CN) n (ROH). xM 2 .yH 2 O), where M is a metal, for example lanthanum, strontium, copper, aluminum, magnesium cobalt and titanium. Values for x and y may range between 1 and 2. Such catalysts may be used alone or in combination with similar catalysts or with the above-described metal oxide/hydroxide catalysts, with the catalyst provided in solid form. For example, the catalyst may be supported on a molecular sieve or zeolite, in which some of the sodium ions have been exchanged for potassium or cesium ions. The catalysts may be provided as a powder, pellets, balls, or extruded forms, and calcined in the presence or absence of a neutral gas (such as argon, nitrogen, or helium) at temperatures between 100°C to 200 0 C, usually between 160 0 C to 180 0 C. Use of Molecular Sieves In Catalyst Preparation

[0036] The mixed catalyst may include a molecular sieve, for example a natural or synthetic zeolite. Such substances may vary in composition and crystal structure. The catalyst may, for example, be a titanium zeolite prepared by exchange of silicon atoms with titanium atoms. Further, the molecular sieves may by of types 3A, 4A, and 5A. For example, type 3A of formula K n Nai 2-n [(AlO 2 )i 2 (Siθ 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 θ), or type 4A of formula Na 12 [(A10 2 ) I 2 (SiO 2 ) 12] .xH 2 O), where n and x are integers. The molecular sieve is first treated to exchange one or more of the existing sodium ions with potassium and cesium ions to produce enhanced basic sites. The resulting substance may be calcined in the presence or absence of a neutral gas (such as nitrogen, argon, or helium) and may be used alone as a catalyst or as a solid support for the metal oxide/hydroxide and double metal cyanide catalysts described above.

Reaction Methods

[0037] The above-described catalysts may be used with equal efficiency in a batch, intermittent/semi continuous, or continuous mode at temperatures between 200°C and 225°C and pressures up to 650psi, depending on the specific catalyst, starting material, and process chosen.

[0038] Fatty acid esters and glycerol products from the reactor are generally of high purity, and the glycerol is colorless and high in quality. Quality of the reaction products may be further improved by treatment with activated charcoal, resin, or clay, or by distillation. Any remaining monoglycerides in the ester phase may be removed with the glycerol layer by partial evaporation of alcohol from the reaction mixture. [0039] Batch mode example: Generally, for batch mode reaction, a mixture of alkyl alcohol, oil, and a catalyst is placed in a sealed autoclave and exposed to temperatures between 150°C and 300 0 C, typically between 180 0 C and 230 0 C for 30 to 120 minutes. The ratio of catalyst to oil should be 1-10% by weight, and typically 2-6% by weight. The alcohol ratio should be 1-10 volume equivalents, typically 3-8 volume equivalents, most suitably 6 equivalents with respect to the amount of oil present. After cooling and depressurizing, the reaction mixture is recovered from the autoclave and filtered to remove the catalyst, which may be stored for later reuse. Excess alcohol is recovered by distillation, and the alkyl ester product is recovered from residue by decanting the separated glycerol.

[0040] Continuous/fixed bed example: Generally, oil and alcohol are fed at predetermined fixed rates into a continuous fixed bed reactor containing the desired mixed solid catalyst. The reactor is maintained at a temperature of 180°C to 300 0 C, typically 18O 0 C to 23O 0 C depending on the catalyst used. Typical variables should be considered, including type and quality of feedstock, nature of alcohol, molar ratio of alcohol to oil, reaction time, temperature, pressure, and nature and quantity of catalyst.

Catalysts - Examples

[0041] All reagents and alcohols used in the following examples were of technical grade. The triglyceride source/starting material was food grade canola oil with approximately 1% free fatty acids. All metal oxides, molecular sieves, and carboxylic acids were purchased from Aldrich Chemical Co. For free fatty acid reactions, hydrolyzed canola and safflower oils were used as a source of free fatty acids. Reactions were followed by thin layer chromatography and 400MHz NMR. GC analyses were performed following ASTM protocols on HP 6890 gas chromatograph.

Preparation of Catalyst MS-4ΛK

[0042] Potassium exchanged molecular sieves were prepared by partial ion exchanging molecular sieves of molecular formula, Nai 2 [(AlO 2 ) 12 (Siθ 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O (MS-4A). 800g of MS-4A were suspended in 5000ml, 0.5Molar aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide and heated under reflux for 5h and allowed to cool to room temp. The exchanged molecular sieves were washed repeatedly to remove excess potassium hydroxide from the molecular cages of the sieves. Preparation of Catalyst MS-4ΛCs

[0043] Cesium exchanged molecular sieves were prepared by partial ion exchanging molecular sieves of molecular formula, Nai 2 [(AlO 2 )i 2 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O (MS-4A). MS-4A (10Og) was suspended in 700ml, 0.5Molar aqueous solution of cesium chloride and heated under reflux for 5h and allowed to cool to room temp. The exchanged molecular sieves were washed repeatedly to remove excess cesium chloride from the molecular cages of the sieves.

Preparation of Catalyst MSSΛK

[0044] Potassium and cesium exchanged molecular sieves were prepared by partial ion exchanging molecular sieves molecular formula, Ca n Na I2- 2n [(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 )i 2 ].xH 2 O. MS-5A (10Og) was suspended in 7000ml, 0.5Molar aqueous solution of cesium chloride and heated under reflux for 5h and allowed to cool to room temp. The exchanged molecular sieves were washed repeatedly to remove excess cesium chloride from the molecular cages of the sieves.

Preparation of Catalyst MSSACs

[0045] Cesium exchanged molecular sieves were prepared by partial ion exchanging molecular sieves of molecular formula, Ca n Na 12- 2n [(AlO 2 ) 12 (SiO 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 θ. MS-5A (10Og) was suspended in 700ml, 0.5Molar aqueous solution of cesium chloride and heated under reflux for 5h and allowed to cool to room temp. The exchanged molecular sieves were washed repeatedly to remove excess cesium chloride from the molecular cages of the sieves.

Preparation of Catalyst C-I

[0046] Lanthanum chloride heptahydrate (25g) was dissolved in water (100 ml) at room temperature and a mixture of a solution of potassium hydroxide (IM) and potassium carbonate (250ml) was added over Ih, whereupon a white precipitate was formed. Resulting suspension was further stirred for lhr; the solid was filtered, rinsed with 3x50 ml of 1 :1 methanol water mixture. The resulting solid was dried at 100° C for 24 h and calcined at 600 0 C for 3 hours to get lanthanum oxide (Catalyst C-I).

Preparation of Catalyst C-II

[0047] Lanthanum chloride heptahydrate (15.2g) in water (100 ml) was added to a solution of calcium chloride (30g) in water (150 ml) at room temperature under vigorous stirring. A mixture of a solution of potassium hydroxide (IM, 200ml) and potassium carbonate (0.5 M, 1000ml) was added under stirring over one hour, whereby a white precipitate is obtained. Reaction mixture was further stirred for one hour then filtered to recover a white solid, washed with 3x50 ml of 1 :1 methanol: water mixture. Solid was dried at 100° C for 24 h and then calcined at 600° C for 3 hours to obtain lanthanum calcium oxide, X(La 2 O 3 ). y(CaO) (where x =1 and y = 3), hereinafter referred to as catalyst C-II.

Preparation of Catalyst C-III

[0048] Lanthanum aluminum oxide, X(La 2 O 3 ). V(Al 2 O 3 ) (where x =2 and y =

1) hereinafter referred to as catalyst C-III was prepared following the procedure described catalyst C-II using aluminum chloride (17g) and lanthanum chloride (25g).

Preparation of Catalyst C-IV

[0049] Lanthanum zinc oxide, X(La 2 O 3 ). y(ZnO) (where x =2 and y = 1) hereinafter referred to as catalyst C-IV was prepared following the procedure described catalyst C-II using zinc chloride (17g) and lanthanum chloride (25g).

Catalysts C-V to C-XIV

[0050] Catalysts C-V to C-XIV were prepared by mixing required metal oxides and exchanged or un-exchanged molecular sieves from Table -1, respectively in water to make a paste. The paste was extruded, dried at 100° C for 24 h and calcined at 600° C for 3 hours to obtain Catalysts from C-V to C-XIV (Table- 1). Table 1 : Preparation of mixed metal oxide catalysts: Al 2 O ZnO TiO 2 La 2 La 2 O 3 . Fe 3 O 4 Water Ms- Ms- Yield

Catalyst 3 (g) (g) (g) 03 TiO 2 (g) (g) (ml) 4AK 5AK (g)

(S) (g) (S)

C-V 6.0 - - 9.8 - - - 11.5 - 25.2

C-VI 2.3 - - 4.6 - - 8.0 2.3 - 8.9

C-VII 8.0 160 16.0 - - - 30.0 30.0 - 65.0

C-VIII 30.0 300 30.0 - - - 200.0 250.0 - 295

C-IX - - - - 30.2 - - - - 29.7

C-X - 180 - - 18.0 - 40.0 30.0 - 60.0

C-XI 4.5 - - - 9.0 - 20.0 10.5 - 22.8

C-XII - - - - - 20.0 - - - 20.0

C-XIII 3.0 3.0 3.0 - - 6.0 40.0 25.0 - 37.5

C-XIV 3.6 8.2 8.2 - - - 25 - 13.4 32.8

Preparation of Catalyst C-XV

[0051] An aqueous solution of ammonium hydroxide (4ml) was added drop wise into a stirred solution of 1.3g of aluminum chloride dissolved in 5ml of deionized water. To the resulting white suspension, a solution of zinc oxide (0.9 g) in a solution of nitric acid (2.5 g) and water (7.5A ml) was added and stirred to get a clear solution. This clear solution was absorbed on 3 molecular sieves of molecular formula, K n Na 12-n [(AlO 2 )i 2 (Siθ 2 ) 12 ].xH 2 O, (Ms-3A, 30 g) for one hour and then dried at 100 0 C for 5 hours. To this material at RT was added ammonium hydroxide solution (2 ml) and dried at 100 0 C for 5 hours. The material was calcined at 600 0 C for 3 hours to give catalyst C-XV.

Preparation of Catalyst C-XVl

[0052] A solution of potassium hexacyanoferrate(II)-trihydrate (7.4 g, 17.5 mmol) in 50ml of water was added to lanthanum chloride heptahydrate (65.1 g,) dissolved in a mixture of water (50ml) and t-butanol (20ml) at 50 0 C over one hour. Reaction mixure was further stirred for additional 18h and cooled to ambient temperature. Separated solid was filtered, washed with a 3x40 ml of 1 :1 mixture of water and t-butanol. It was dried at RT overnight, then at 6O 0 C under reduced pressure for 5h and finally at 170 0 C for another 5h to a constant weight. Dried material having molecular formula Fe 2 La 3 (CN)] O , herein referred to as catalyst C- XVI.

Preparation of Catalyst C-XVII

[0053] DMC catalyst C-XVII having molecular formula Fe 2 Cu 3 (CN) i 0 was prepared using hexacyanoferrate(II)-trihydrate (7.4g) and copper(II)sulfate (55.9g) following the method described for catalyst C-XVI.

Preparation of Catalyst C-XVIII

[0054] DMC catalyst C-XVIII having molecular formula Fe 2 Al 3 (CN) 10 was prepared using hexacyanoferrate(II)-trihydrate (7.4g) and aluminum chloride (23.3g) following the method described for catalyst C-XVI.

Preparation of Catalysts C-XIX to C-XXI

[0055] Appropriate calcined metal oxides, a DMC and calcined Ms-4AK were mixed together in desired quantities. Water (20 ml) was added to this physical mixture to make a paste. The paste was extruded and dried at 100 0 C for 24h and then at 170 0 C for 5h to a constant weight yielding catalysts C-IX to C-XXI, respectively. Compositions of catalysts C-IX to C-XXI are reported in Table 2.

Table 2:

Catalyst DMC (g) Al 2 O 3 (g) TiO 2 (g) ZnO (g) Ms-4AK Yield (g) Cg)

C-XIX C-XVI (1.5) 0.75 1.5 - 7.5 11.0

C-XX C-XVII(3.0) 1.5 3.0 - 15.0 23.0

C-XXI C-XVIII 0.75 1.5 7.5 11.3

(1.5)

C-XXIII C-XXII(5.0) 3.0 5.0 5.0 36.0

Preparation of Catalyst C-XXII [0056] DMC catalyst C-XXII having molecular formula Fe 2 Zn 3 (CN)i 0 was prepared using hexacyanoferrate(II)-trihydrate (7.4g) and Zinc chloride (23.9g) following literature-described methods.

Reaction - Examples

Batch Process for Transesterification ofCanola Oil to Biodiesel [0057] With respect to Table 3 below, a solid, mixed catalyst was placed with a mixture of 1Og canola oil and 65ml methanol in a 100ml stainless steel autoclave equipped with a pressure gauge and pressure relief valve. The autoclave was sealed and heater in an oil bath at 200 0 C ±10°C. After cooling and release of pressure, the catalyst was recovered from the reaction products and washed with methanol prior to reuse (and reactivated, if necessary). The filtrate, containing fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), glycerol, unreacted oil (if any) and methanol, was separated by evaporation and layer separation. Recovered methanol was recycled, glycerol removed, and the remaining oily products were analyzed. The results are presented in Table 3.

Table 3: Transesterification of canola oil using batch process

% Catalyst

% Conversion based on Triglyceride

/ Catalyst (g) XlOO \

Catalyst* Time (h) consumption

V Oil (g) )

1 st Use 2 nd Use

ZnO 5.0 1.5 92.2

Al 2 O 3 5.0 1.5 90.4 34.0

TiO 2 5.0 1.5 30.4 20.0

Ms-4AK 5.0 1.5 94.8 80.0

La 2 O 3 5.0 1.5 100 100

La 2 O 3 16.0 1.0 100 100

C-II 5.0 1.5 100 100

C-III 5.0 1.5 100 100

C-IV 5.0 1.5 100 100

C-V 5.0 1.5 97.4 100

C-VI 5.0 1.5 100 100

C-VII 5.0 1.5 95.6 62.6

C-VIII 10.0 1.5 100 100

C-VIII 5.0 1.5 100 100

C-IX 5.0 1.5 98.3 83.5

C-IX 16.0 1.0 90.4 93.8 C-X 5.0 1.5 100 100

C-X 3.0 1.5 100 100

C-X 16.0 1.0 100 100

C-XI 5.0 1.5 100 98.3

C-XII 5.0 1.5 71.3 48.7

C-XII 16.0 1.0 82.6 82.6

C-XIII 5.0 1.5 100 100

C-XIII 16.0 1.0 100 98.3

C-XIV 5.0 1.5 67.8 58.3

C-XIV 16.0 1.0 90.2 89.8

C-XV 5.0 1.5 40.9 27.0

C-XV 16.0 2.0 100 100

C-XVI 5.0 1.5 97.4 100

C-XVII 5.0 1.5 54.8 63.5

C-XVIII 5.0 1.5 35.7 36.5

C-XIX 5.0 1.5 94.8 81.7

C-XX 5.0 1.5 100 81.7

C-XXI 5.0 1.5 59.1 37.4

C-XXIII 16.0 1.0 99.0 98.0

C-VIII 10 2.0 99.9 99.8

*Single metal oxides were calcined at 6Q0°C for 3 hrs pπor to use

Batch Process for Esterification ofCarboxylic Acids or Free Fatty Acids [0058] With respect to Table 4 below, a mixture of a carboxylic acid or free fatty acids, and appropriate alcohol or phenol, and a catalyst was placed in a 100ml stainless steel autoclave equipped with a pressure gauge and pressure relief valve. The autoclave was then sealed and heated in an oil bath for the time indicated, then cooled to ambient temperature and pressure released. The reaction material was filtered to recover the catalyst, followed by washing of the catalyst in methanol and reactivation, if necessary. Methanol was removed by evaporation and the residue was washed with bicarbonate solution to remove unreacted acid. Remaining solvent was removed by evaporation, and the recovered ester was analyzed by NMR and GC, with results shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Esterification of carboxylic acids

Sr.No Carboxylic Acid ROH Catalyst Catalyst Time Conversion %

% ( h)

Continuous Fixed Bed Reactor Process for Transesterification of Canola Oil [0059] A tubular stainless steel reactor, equipped with pressure regulator, back pressure control valve and thermometer, was filled with the indicated mixed solid catalyst. Canola oil and methanol were introduced at the indicated ratios and flow rates from bottom of the reactor using two high pressure pumps. The reactor was heated externally such that the temperature inside of the reactor was maintained between 200 and 25O 0 C, and internal pressure was maintained between 350 to 1 ,000psi, preferably between 400 to 650psi. Hot effluents exiting from top of the reactor were flashed into an expansion chamber where methanol vapours were separated, condensed and recycled. Residue liquid was drained into a settling chamber where the lower layer (containing glycerol) was separated from the product. A series of continuous reactions were conducted to optimize feed rate, temperature, pressure and contact time for maximizing the conversion of oil into FAME and improving colour and quality of glycerol. The separated upper layer containing largely the biodiesel product was analysed using NMR and GC to quantify FAME yield and remaining oil if any. Results of runs using different catalysts are reported in Table-5.

Table 5: Fixed Bed Transesterification of Canola Oil CATALYST TEMP WH R H/A PRESSURE CONTACT CθNVERSION(

0 C VOL/VOL PSI TIME ( %)

MIN)

C-VIII 200 0.5 1.0 650 60 99.8

C-VIII* 200 0.5 1.0 650 60 99.8

C-VIII 200 0.5 2.0 650 40 98.0

C-VIII 200 1.0 1.0 650 30 92.5

C-VIII 200 1.0 0.5 650 40 95.0

C-VIII 200 0.75 0.5 650 60 98.3

C-VIII 230 0.75 0.5 650 60 99.8

C-VIII 230 0.75 0.5 700 60 99.9

C-VIII 200 0.3 1.0 650 100 99.9

C-VIII 200 0.25 1.0 650 120 99.9

C-VIII 200 1.5 1.0 650 40 95.0

C-VIII 215 1.5 1.0 650 40 97.0

C-VIII 200 2.0 1.0 650 15 80.0

C-VII 200 0.5 1.0 650 60 99.8

C-VII 200 0.75 0.5 650 60 99.7

C-XXIII 200 0.5 1 650 60 97.0

C-III 200 0.5 1 650 60 99.8

VVH = Volume of oil injected /volume of catalyst per hr , R is ratio by volume of Oil/alcohol * - Recalciπed catalyst after several uses

[0060] The fixed bed reactor transesterification process may also be completed in two stages. This was carried out in cases where an incomplete conversion of triglycerides to FAME was noticed, or to increase the shift of reaction equilibrium, bringing the reaction to completion more quickly. The recovered upper layer from the reaction above was diluted with the desired quantity of methanol, and introduced into a second reactor system with conditions similar to that described in Table 5. Effluents were concentrated and glycerol removed. Recovered FAME was anlalyzed using NMR and GC, with results reported below in Table 6. Catalyst beds were regenerated only if required, by heating at 600 0 C for three hours except for catalysts containing DMC, which were heated to 170 0 C for five hours.

Table 6: Two-Stage Fixed Bed Transesterification of Canola Oil V V

V V H Contact time Conversion % H Temp Pressure

Stage Stage 0 C PSI Stage Stage- Stage-

Stage-2 -1 -2 -1 2 1

2 2 200 650 15 15 80 95.8

1 2 200 650 30 15 82 95.8

2 1 200 650 15 30 80 93.3

1 1 200 650 30 30 82 99.9

VVH = Volume of oil injected /volume of catalyst per hr., R is ratio by volume of Oil/alcohol.

[0061] The above-described embodiments of the present invention are intended to be examples only. Alterations, modifications and variations may be effected to the particular embodiments by those of skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined solely by the claims appended hereto.