THE STUDY OF BIODIESEL PRODUCTION FROM MELON (colocynthis citrullus) SEED OIL: CHARACTERIZATION AND PROCESS OPTIMIZATION

AUTHOR: ALIOZO, OGECHUKWU SANDRA

DEPARTMENT: CHEMICAL ENGINEERING

AFFILIATION: NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA

The production, characterization and optimization of methyl ester from melon seed oil were investigated. Oil was extracted from shelled melon seed using solvent extraction. The melon oil was characterized to determine the physiochemical properties. The result obtained from the characterization showed that extracted melon oil had an acid value of 2.7mg/KOH which corresponds to FFA level of 1.35%. The oil was further refined and dried to reduce FFA and moisture to accepted level of 0.1% and 0.04% respectively. Biodiesel was produced through transesterification of refined melon oil and methanol using sodium hydroxide catalyst. The biodiesel produced was characterized to determine the physiochemical properties and the results obtained were further compared to international standards. The single effects of four major process parameters (catalyst weight, methanol to oil molar ratio, temperature and reaction time) on biodiesel production were initially studied. The catalyst weight, methanol to oil ratio, temperature and reaction time were found to be 0.75%, 6:1, 60oC and 60mins respectively. Response surface methodology, based on a five level, four variable central composite designs was used to optimize and statistically analyze the interaction effect of the process parameter during the biodiesel production processes. The optimal yield of biodiesel from melon oil was found to be 94.9% under the following reaction conditions: catalyst weight – 0.8%, methanol to oil molar ratio – 6:1, temperature – 55oC and reaction time of 60mins. An experimental investigation was further performed to determine the variation of fuel property (specific gravity, density and viscosity) with temperatures for diesel fuel, biodiesel and biodiesel – blend. The study showed that specific gravity and densities of biodiesel fuel increased with the increase in the blending ratio of biodiesel and gradually decrease as the fuel temperature increased. The viscosity of the fuel samples was found to decrease with increasing temperature and decreasing blending ratio. The experimental data of the fuel properties were modeled as a function of temperature and blending ratio by empirical correlation using linear and polynomial curve fitting software. Linear model provides good description for the experimental density with an average absolute deviation and maximum average deviation, 0.19% and 0.36% respectively. While the viscosity was better fitted to a polynomial model with average absolute deviation and maximum average deviation of 0.83% and 2.68% respectively. The effect of variation of reaction time with yield at different temperatures was also investigated. A kinetic study based on the experimental data obtained showed that the data best conforms to a pseudo second order kinetic model with 90.7 – 97.9% level of confidence. The reaction rate constants were within 0.0098 – 0.0128dm3/mol.mins.

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