Effect of organic solvents and acidic catalysts on biodiesel yields from primary sewage sludge, and characterization of fuel properties

Mohamed A. Gomaa, Nicolas Gombocz, Dominik Schild, Farouk Mjalli, Ahmed Al-Harrasi, Raeid Abed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biodiesel is considered the most convenient biofuel, due to its direct use in existing combustion
engines; however, its production is not economically optimal due to processes that utilize costly
substrates, require high energy expenditure or achieve low biodiesel yields. We used primary
sewage sludge for the production of biodiesel and compared yields at different temperatures
(40, 50 and 60 C) and with different organic solvents (chloroform, toluene and hexane), acid
catalysts (HCl and H2SO4) and catalyst concentrations (3, 5 and 7%). A maximum of 18 wt%
biodiesel was obtained using chloroform with 3% H2SO4 at 40 C. The conversion efficiency of
the primary sludge to biodiesel under these conditions was 86.4%. Based on the fatty acid
methyl ester composition of the obtained biodiesel and measured fuel properties, it was
deduced that fuel from primary sludge is more suitable for areas with warmer climates than
ones that reach temperatures close to 0 C. However, the fuel properties of the produced
biodiesel were within the limits of accepted international standards. We conclude that
production of biodiesel from primary sewage sludge under optimized conditions reduces the
impact of the feedstock on the environment, decreases overall costs and produces fuel with
acceptable properties
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)405
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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