A novel one-pot synthesis of tetragonal sulfated zirconia catalyst with high activity for biodiesel production from the transesterification of soybean oil

Highlights

The sulfated zirconia catalyst was prepared by a novel one-pot synthesis route.

The more acid sites were found to attach on the surface of tetragonal zirconia.

The catalyst exhibited excellently catalytic activity.

The catalysts calcined at 500 °C showed 100% yields for the transesterification.

The catalysts were well applied in biodiesel production.

Abstract

A sulfated zirconia catalyst has been prepared by a novel one-pot vapor-controlled synthesis route using ammonium persulphate as sulfate agent. A possible formation mechanism of the catalyst is proposed. The effect of calcination temperature and S/Zr molar ratio on the structural, textural and catalytic properties of the prepared catalyst were investigated in detail using X-ray diffraction (XRD), N2 adsorption–desorption, ammonia temperature programmed desorption (NH3-TPD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and a scanning electron microscope (SEM) which was equipped with an energy dispersive spectroscope (EDS). The results indicated that the samples calcined at 500 °C possessed zirconia of pure tetragonal structure, more content of sulfur and better distribution of acid sites on the surface of zirconia compared with the samples calcined at 600  °C at fixed S/Zr molar ratio. Moreover, they showed excellent catalytic activity with 100% yields of biodiesel for the transesterification of soybean oil with methanol.

Keywords

  • Sulfated zirconia;
  • Tetragonal structure;
  • Biodiesel;
  • Transesterification;
  • Soybean oil

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