The probable depletion of fossil energy resources has led the international scientific community to direct research towards biofuels, including vegetable oils. Benin has a rich biodiversity with multiple oilseed species, potential sources of biofuels. Among these, Ceiba pentandra was identified and selected for a detailed study of its unconventional vegetable oil. In this order of idea, the harvested seeds were dried in the sun and crushed. It was preserved at 25°C according to the NF T 60 – 201, 1993 standard. The physicochemical parameters and fatty acids content of C. pentandra vegetable oil have been determined by standard methods. The biofuel potential of this vegetable oil has also been evaluated. The results revealed that C. pentandra vegetable oil is predominant in saturated (40.8%) and polyunsaturated (41.37%) fatty acids. The saturated fatty acids quantified are stearic (20.17%) and palmitic (19.77%), while the most important polyunsaturated fatty acids are linoleic acid (C18:2) (20.95%) and linolelaidic acid (18.28%). Quality indices such as acid (4.52 ± 0.24 mg KOH/g-Oil), peroxide (2.16 ± 0.54 meq O2/kg-Oil), saponification (152.79 ± 6.07 mg KOH/g-Oil), iodine (129.79 ± 2.81 mg I2/100 g-Oil) and ester (148.27 ± 5.83 mg KOH/g-Oil) shall comply with the recommended standards for biofuels. These values of quality indices coupled with those of lower calorific value (LCV) ( 40002.26 kJ/kg), refractive index ( 1.4728 at 30°C) and cetane index ( 49.70) make it possible to consider the use of this vegetable oil as a fuel oil.
Key words: Ceiba pentandra, vegetable oil, quality indexes, fatty acids, fuel properties, Benin.
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