Transesterification/esterification of oils and fats by using a homogeneous catalyst is currently the main method of biodiesel production. Homogeneous catalysis for biodiesel production requires separation of the final product from the catalyst, vast quantities of water are needed making the process environmentally unfriendly due to the effluent streams produced. The yield of the process is lowered via the loss of biodiesel product by being carried into the soap phase during the washing process.
Heterogeneous catalysis is a more advantageous process for the production of biodiesel, compared to the homogeneous process of transesterification/esterification of free fatty acids since purification process is simplified and ester yield is higher, promising a cheaper production. Heterogeneous catalysts have been advanced by nanotechnology since milder operating conditions can be applied compared to bulk catalysts.
In this work, the heterogeneous production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil/fat will be studied under mild operating conditions to determine the fundamental mechanisms of the reactions taking place and the best operating conditions and materials. The new process could also benefit from mathematical modelling allowing the optimisation of the operation and design parameters and materials.
Applications are invited from graduates in chemical engineering, chemistry or a closely related subject holding at least a 2.1 (or equivalent) degree. Applicants should meet the University’s requirements for English language proficiency.