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ETHANOLYSIS OF MICROBIAL OIL BY ACID CATALYSIS ROUTE: A COMPARISON BETWEEN HOMOGENEOUS AND HETEROGENEOUS CATALYSTS

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The feasibility of the microalgae oil from Chlorella minutissima as biodiesel feedstock was assessed by acid transesterification reactions using homogeneous (H2SO4) and heterogeneous (Nb2O5/SO4) as catalysts. Reactions were carried under proper conditions previously established for each catalyst (1:9 molar ratio of microbial oil to ethanol for 8 h at 80 ◦C and 1:120 ethanol to oil molar ratio, temperature of 250 ◦C for 4 h in a pressurized stainless steel reactor, respectively for, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts). Both catalysts afford high biodiesel yield (> 96%) although the solid catalyst gave better yield 98% and better specifications to be used as a biofuel (viscosity of 4.5 mm2s-1 and low residual levels of monoacylglycerols and absence of diacylglycerols).