14. Compact NMR spectroscopy for real-time monitoring of a biodiesel production
The use of biodiesel shows innumerous advantages compared to fossil fuels, since biodiesel is a biodegradable and non-toxic fuel. Nowadays, most of the biodiesel commercialized in the world is produced by the transesterification reaction of vegetable oils with methanol and basic catalysis. Understanding the reaction kinetics and controlling its optimum progress for improving the quality of the final product and to reduce production costs is of paramount importance. The present work explores compact 1H NMR spectroscopy to follow the course of the transesterification reaction in real time. For this purpose the magnet is integrated into a flow setup which allows one to transport the neat solution from the reactor into the measurement zone and back again into the reactor. A multivariate calibration model applying Partial Least Squares regression was built to analyze the measured data and to obtain information about the biodiesel conversion ratio with errors on the order of 1%.