Unrevealing the mechanisms involved when producing biodiesel from waste oil using a combined experimental and theoretical methodology (UNPRECEDENTED)

UNPRECEDENTED will use a combine methodology of experimental data and theoretical modelling (DFT based calculations) to study and fully comprehend the biodiesel production reaction.

01-Jan-2023 - 31-Dec-2026
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Staff Exchange
Background

With the outstanding goal for Europe to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050, the EU need to reduce its emissions by 40% by 2030. These goals must be reached without jeopardizing economic development and growth, and simultaneously fulfill the UN sustainability goals.

One of the main contributors to climate change and global warming is emissions from our vehicles that run on petroleum-based fuels. To reduce emissions, we need to find alternative and more sustainable fuel. Biodiesel is one such option. But biodiesel production requires the use of edible oils. As edible oils are needed in the production of food crops, it makes biodiesel less attractive. And while researchers are developing new technologies to use lower quality nonedible oils in biodiesel production, these are not yet economically viable.

Aims

In UNPRECEDENTED, we will look into how we can use waste oil to produce biodiesel. This new raw material has been tested experimentally with promising results. However, we don't yet understand how the reaction is taking place and which steps are involved in the process. This lack of knowledge negatively affects the selection of new technologies or testing new feedstocks.

We will use a combined methodology of experimental data and theoretical modelling (DFT based calculations) to study and fully comprehend the biodiesel production reaction. This will help us understand the reactive steps involved, the reaction pathway that is followed as well as the energies involved in each reactive step. We will look at how waste oil can be converted into biodiesel by using renewable alcohols and new catalytic, biobased materials, such as produce from renewable sources, and enrich it with glycerol.

Illustration UNPRECEDENTED
Illustration of the methodology. Copyright: Jorge Marchetti, NMBU
Objectives
  1. Implement Density of Functional Theory models, based on experimental data, to assist in unrevealing the kinetics mechanism involved in the production of biodiesel.
  2. Develop a nano-scale metal oxide-based catalysts enriched with glycerol for the upgrading of different waste oil.
  3. Use experimental data combined with DFT simulations which will give us a better understanding of the properties of the catalytic materials developed.

Participants

Jorge Mario Marchetti
Professor
Project coordinator
Prof. Dr. Alfredo Juan
Physics Department, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina
External participant
Prof. Dr. João Gomes
Instituto Superior de Engeharia de Lisboa, Portugal
External participant