In this study, a mathematical model for the esterification reaction of Jatropha curcas seed oil was developed in terms of catalyst concentration, methanol to oil ratio and reaction time. Analysis of the crude Jatropha oil indicates that the free fatty acid (FFA) of the oil was 16.1% having composition of 37.24, 37.13, 15.85 and 9.76% of linoleic, euric, palmitic and stearic acids, respectively. FFA (%) measurement was used in determining the extent of esterification of the oil. The experimental results demonstrated that methanol to oil ratio was the only significant model term affecting FFA reduction at 95% confidence level. Comparison of experimentally obtained FFA with predicted values by the developed model showed high correlation coefficient (R2 = 0.9657). The developed mathematical model can be employed in optimization and simulation of FFA reduction during vegetable oil esterification within the range of parameters studied.
Key words: Esterification, Jatropha oil, free fatty acid, response surface methodology (RSM)
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