Glycerin esterification of scum derived free fatty acids for biodiesel production

Erik A Anderson, Min M Addy, Qinglong Xie, Huan Ma, Yuhuan Liu, Yanling Cheng, Nonso Onuma, Paul L Chen, R. R Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Scum is an oily waste stream of the wastewater treatment process that can be used to produce biodiesel. Combining acid hydrolysis and solvent extraction, a free fatty acid and acyl-glycerol rich product was produced. Free fatty acids (FFAs) present were converted to acyl-glycols via a high temperature (238°C) glycerin esterification process known as glycerolysis. The inorganic catalysts zinc aluminum oxide and sodium sulfate were tested during glycerolysis to compare the reaction kinetics of converting FFA to acyl-glycerols. It was concluded that the zinc-based catalyst increased the reaction rate significantly, from a "k" value of 2.57 (uncatalyzed) to 5.63, completing the reaction in 60min, half the time it took the uncatalyzed reaction (120min). Sodium sulfate's presence however slowed the reaction, resulting in a "k" value of 1.45, completing the reaction in 180min. Use of the external catalyst Zn-Al2O3 showed the greatest catalytic potential, but also assumes additional costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to Adam Sealock at the Saint Paul Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) for helping with the scum sample collection. This project was supported in part by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), the Metropolitan Council for Environmental Services (MCES), the University of Minnesota MNDrive program, and the Center for Biorefining.


  • Biodiesel
  • Glycerolysis
  • Scum
  • Solvent extraction
  • Wastewater treatment


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