Due to rapid changes in food habits, a substantial amount of waste fat and used oils are generated each year. Due to strong policies, the disposal of this material into nearby sewers causes ecological and environmental problems in many parts of the world. For efficient management, waste cooking oil, a less expensive, alternative and promising feedstock, can be used as a raw material for producing biofuel. In the present study, we produced a biodiesel from hydrolyzed waste cooking oil with a subcritical methanol process using a synthesized solid super acid catalyst, a sulfated zirconium oxide supported on Santa Barbara Amorphous silica (S-ZrO2
/SBA-15). The characterization of the synthesized catalyst was carried out using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) method. The catalytic effect on biodiesel production was examined by varying the parameters: temperatures of 120 to 200 °C, 5–20 min times, oil-to-methanol mole ratios between 1:5 to 1:20, and catalyst loadings of 1–2.5%. The maximum biodiesel yield was 96.383%, obtained under optimum reaction conditions of 140 °C, 10 min, and a 1:10 oil-to-methanol molar ratio with a 2.0% catalyst loading. We successfully reused the catalyst five times without regeneration with a 90% efficiency. The fuel properties were found to be within the limits set by the biodiesel standard.
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