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Additive manufacturing biodiesel production nanocatalysts

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Biodiesel is currently produced by transesterification of oils and fats by using a homogeneous catalyst. Homogeneous catalysis for biodiesel production requires separation of the final product from the catalyst, vast quantities of water are needed and it is environmentally unfriendly due to the effluent streams produced.

Heterogeneous catalysis can benefit from nanotechnology since milder operating conditions can be applied compared to bulk catalysts. Heterogeneous catalysis is the most advantageous process for the production of biodiesel since purification process is simplified, ester yield is higher and can lead to cheaper production in a fixed bed continuous reactor.

The goal of this research project is to develop a new category of heterogeneous, cheaper, catalysts, which can potentially exhibit a high tolerance to water and FFA in oils while simultaneously catalysing both the esterification and transesterification reactions. Parameters of investigation to this study will include metal oxide ratio on the Lewis acid and base sites.

Applications are invited from graduates in chemical engineering, chemistry or a closely related subject holding a 2.1 (or equivalent) degree. Applicants should meet the university’s requirements for English language proficiency.


Melcher, R., Travitzky, N., Zollfrank, C., Greil, P. 2011. 3D printing of Al2O3/Cu–O interpenetrating phase composite J Mater Sci 46:1203–1210

Yan, S., Salley, S. O., Ng, K.Y. S. 2009. Simultaneous transesterification and esterification of unrefined or waste oils over ZnO-La2O3 catalysts. Applied Catalysis A: General 353: 203–212

Chouhan, A.P.S., Sarma, A.K., 2011. Modern heterogenous catalysts for biodiesel production – a comprehensive review. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 15, 4378– 4399.

Madhuvilakku, R. and S. Piraman. 2013. Biodiesel synthesis by TiO2–ZnO mixed oxide nanocatalyst catalyzed palm oil transesterification process

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