Biodiesels produced from renewable sources exhibit superior fuel properties and renewability and they are more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based fuels. In this paper, a three-step transesterification, catalyzed by a pyridinium-based Brønsted acidic ionic liquid (BAIL), for biodiesel production was investigated using density functional theory (DFT) calculations at the B3LYP/6-311++G(d) level. The DFT results elucidate the detailed catalytic cycle, which involves the formation of a covalent reactant–BAIL–(methanol)n (n = 1/3) intermediate and two transition states. Hydrogen bond interactions were found to exist throughout the process of the catalytic cycle, which are of special importance for stabilizing the intermediate and transition states. Thus, a mechanism involving cooperative hydrogen bonding for BAIL-catalyzed biodiesel production was established. The Gibbs free energy profile based on the above mechanism was validated by the subsequent kinetic study. The trend of activation energy from kinetic mathematical models was reasonably consistent with that obtained from the DFT calculations.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Environmental Chemistry