UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Use of Isomerization and Hydroisomerization Reactions to Improve the Cold Flow Properties of Vegetable Oil Based Biodiesel Reaume, Stephen J.; Ellis, Naoko


Biodiesel is a promising alternative to petroleum diesel with the potential to reduce overall net CO₂ emissions. However, the high cloud point of biodiesel must be reduced when used in cold climates. We report on the use of isomerization and hydroisomerization reactions to reduce the cloud point of eight different fats and oils. Isomerization was carried out at 260 °C and 1.5 MPa H₂ pressure utilizing beta zeolite catalyst, while hydroisomerization was carried out at 300 °C and 4.0 MPa H₂ pressure utilizing 0.5 wt % Pt-doped beta zeolite catalyst. Reaction products were tested for cloud point and flow properties, in addition to catalyst reusability and energy requirements. Results showed that high unsaturated fatty acid biodiesels increased in cloud point, due to the hydrogenation side reaction. In contrast, low unsaturated fatty acid biodiesels yielded cloud point reductions and overall improvement in the flow properties. A maximum cloud point reduction of 12.9 °C was observed with coconut oil as the starting material. Results of the study have shown that branching can reduce the cloud point of low unsaturated fatty acid content biodiesel.

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