Production of biodiesel from crude neem oil feedstock and its emissions from internal combustion engines
This study investigates biodiesel production using crude neem oil having high acid value, as a feedstock. The effects of some operating variables were ascertained and its combustion performance was assessed in an internal combustion engine. Due to its high acid value, the neem oil was processed via two step acid – base transesterification process. The first step reduced the acid level to <2 mgKOH/g while the second step involved direct conversion to fatty acid methyl ester using 1% NaOH as catalyst. The lowest viscosity value was used as a proxy measure to determine the extent of the reaction. The results reveal the optimum conditions for biodiesel production to be ratio 1:6 of oil to methanol and 1.5 h reaction time. The viscosity at this condition was 5.53 cSt. The same procedure was repeated for NaOCH3 catalyst concentrations of 0.5, 0.75, 1 and 1.25%. The lowest viscosity of 6.79 cSt was recorded at both 1 and 1.25% catalyst concentrations. The fuel properties of the biodiesel compared favorably with the recommendation by the American Standard Testing Method. The emissions of different blends showed that neem biodiesel has lower emissions of CO and NO than petrol diesel but higher NOX. Thus, neem oil as non-edible oil can be a good renewable raw material for biodiesel production.
Key words: Neem, biodiesel, internal combustion, transesterification, free fatty acid.