The magnetic CaO-based catalyst has endorsed great enhancements in biodiesel synthesis. In the present work, novel multi-shelled hollow γ-Fe2
stabilized CaO microspheres were synthesized using a facile one-step hydrothermal method. The strategy revealed that the well-defined multi-shelled hollow structures were formed with magnetism; the presence of γ-Fe2
was the key for the effective structural stabilization, and the multi-shelled hollow structures provided the sites for the active material. The synthesized catalyst was employed for the preparation of biodiesel by transesterification of palm oil and methanol. A four factors response surface methodology was adopted for optimizing the reaction conditions. Ca80Fe20 with a yield of 96.12% performed the highest catalytic activity under reaction conditions of 2 h, a methanol to oil ratio of 12:1, 65 °C and 11 wt. % of catalyst dosage. The catalyst under the optimum transesterification conditions also performed a better recyclability (>85%). In addition, the response surface methodology (RSM) based on the Box–Behnken design was used to optimize the four reaction parameters.
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