With the implementation of the Philippine Biofuels Act of 2006, the country continues to search for new biodiesel feedstock and in improving on existing processes related to biodiesel production. In this study, contributions to these two fields of research were done. Palm oil is currently being considered at by the Philippine government as a potential biodiesel feedstock to augment coconut. This study aimed to optimize parameters for biodiesel production using refined palm oil as feedstock by varying the methanol-to-palm oil molar ratio (MeOH:PO) and the palm oil-to-sodium hydroxide molar ratio (PO:NaOH) with the aid of Response Surface Methodology (RSM) at constant temperature (30°C) and reaction time (60 min). The obtained optimum ranges are: 6.5-6.9:1 for MeOH:PO and 1:0.27-0.32 for PO:NaOH. After the optimum ranges for both ratios were determined, the effect of adding various amounts of FAME to the reaction system at the start of transesterification was studied in an attempt to break the immiscibility of methanol and oil in order to increase FAME yield. The increasing the initial amount of FAME added resulted to an increase in the amount of %FAME yield. In the experimental run where 50% by weight (wt%) of FAME was added, %FAME yield was 64%, which is more than double compared to that of the control (29%). These proved that biodiesel could be produced at milder reaction conditions and would require less energy input.
Keywords: biodiesel, methyl ester, oil palm, transesterification
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