DEVELOPMENT OF OPTIMUM SYNTHESIS METHOD FOR TRANSESTERIFICATION OF PALM OIL METHYL ESTERS AND TRIMETHYLOLPROPANE TO ENVIRONMENTALLY ACCEPTABLE PALM OIL-BASED LUBRICANT
Chemical synthesis of palm oil trimethylolpropane esters was conducted via transesterification of palm oil methyl esters (POME) with trimethylolpropane (TMP). The palm oil TMP esters are potential biodegradable base stock for lubricant production. The influence of the main operating variables, namely, temperatures and pressures, molar ratio of palm methyl esters to TMP, and catalyst amount was studied and analysed. The effects of temperature (80ºC to 140ºC) and reduced pressure (0.1, 10, 50, 100 and 500 mbar) were investigated and found to have a significant impact on the reaction. On the contrary, the amount of catalyst (% w/w) and molar ratio of POME to TMP had little influence on the conversion but affected the overall yield of the reaction. The optimal reaction conditions are as follows: duration: 1 hr; temperature: 130°C; pressure: 20 mbar; catalyst: sodium methoxide at 0.8% w/w; molar ratio of POME:TMP at 3.9:1. Palm oil TMP ester containing 98% w/w triesters was successfully synthesized in less than an hour.