Kinetics of production of biodiesel by enzymatic methanolysis of vegetable oils using lipase has been investigated. A mathematical model taking into account the mechanism of the methanolysis reaction starting from the vegetable oil as substrate, rather than the free fatty acids, has been developed. The kinetic parameters were estimated by fitting the experimental data of the enzymatic reaction of sunflower oil by two types of lipases, namely, Rhizomucor miehei lipase (RM) immobilized on ion-exchange resins and Thermomyces lanuginosa lipase (TL) immobilized on silica gel. There was a good agreement between the experimental results of the initial rate of reaction and those predicted by the proposed model equations, for both enzymes. From the proposed model equations, the regions where the effect of alcohol inhibition fades, at different substrate concentrations, were identified. The proposed model equation can be used to predict the rate of methanolysis of vegetable oils in a batch or a continuous reactor and to determine the optimal conditions for biodiesel production.
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