Tsegay Hiwot, Investigation of the Chemical Composition, Characterization and Determination of Energy Content for Renewable Energy Source (Biodiesel) Produced from Non-Edible Ethiopian Seeds’ Particularly Castor Seed (Ricinus communis) Using Homogeneous Catalysis, ILCPA Volume 37, International Letters of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy (Volume 37)
    Biodiesel is a clean, renewable, biodegradable, environmentally benign, energy efficient and diesel substituent fuel used in diesel engine. It provides a feasible solution to the twin crises of fossil fuel depletion and environmental pollution. It is produced from renewable sources such as vegetable oils or animal fats by trans-esterification. Although this fuel has gained worldwide recognition for many years, it is not being widely commercialized like petroleum diesel in the world, not widely produced and used especially in our country Ethiopia. Analysis of fatty acid methyl ester composition of the biodiesel produced from castor oil was done with the help of GC-MS and 8 fatty acid methyl esters were identified. Acid and base catalyzed methods were used in the synthesis of biodiesel from castor seed oil. In addition to this the variables that affect the amount of methyl ester yield were determined and an optimum of 96.7 % fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) conversion was obtained at a methanol to oil molar ratio of 6:1, 1.0 % mass NaOH, 65 °C reaction temperature and 3 hour reaction time. The energy content of the oil and biodiesel were 39 MJ/Kg and 40.7 MJ/ Kg respectively which is determined by bomb calorimeter. Other physicochemical properties of the biodiesel were determined and all these lie within the ASTM and EN biodiesel standards except kinematic viscosity. Therefore, castor seed oil methyl ester could be used as an alternative energy resource in diesel engine by blending with petroleum diesel.
    Biodiesel, Castor Oil, FAME, GC-MS, Homogeneous Catalyst, Non-Edible Oil, Trans-Esterification