J. Woodford, Christopher M. A. Parlett, J. Dacquin
Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology
Background: Biodiesel is a clean-burning, renewable and biodegradable diesel fuel substitute derived from animal fats and plant oils, which may play an important role in replacing diminishing fossil fuel reserves and combating climate change. Conventional biodiesel production uses soluble base catalysts, such as Na or K alkoxides, to convert oils into fuel, and as a result requires energy intensive aqueous quench cycles to isolate the biodiesel product. Results: Cs-doping nanoparticulate MgO, prepared via a novel, supercritical sol-gel method, yields a solid base catalyst with improved activity for the transesterification of pure triacylglycerides (TAGs) and olive oil. Conclusion: Here, X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is used to probe the local chemical environment of Cs atoms in order to identify the nature of the catalytically active species as CsMg(CO)(HO). © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry.