Chemical extraction and property analyses of marula nut oil for biodiesel production
PublisherScientific Research Publishing, http://www.scirp.org/
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To identify and develop alternative and renewable sources of fuel for the transport sector is a present challenge for engineers and researchers. This work was carried out to assess yield of marula (Sclero carrya/birrea) nut and chemical properties of crude marula nut oil for biodiesel production in Botswana. Chemical extraction of marula oil was done to establish actual oil content by use of hexane / iso-propyl alcohol solvent in a soxhlet set up. Distillation was carried out on a Rotavapor system prior to oil purging using nitrogen gas. The results indicated that marula nuts have about 58.6% oil content. Characterisation of the extracted crude oil was carried out to determine its chemical composition using the Waters GCT Premier Time of Flight (TOF) Mass Spectrometer (MS) coupled to the Agilent 6890N Gas Chromatography (GC) system. Ethyl oleate (ethyl ester) was found to be the dominant fatty acid. Trans-Oleic acid was also abundant but could not be quantified because it was not found in the standard mixture. Crude marula oil was also found to have an ester content of 93.7%, acid value of 1.4mgKOH/g, and free fatty acid content of 0.7%. These results are marginally out of specifications for biodiesel by international standards, implying that crude marula oil is a potential substrate for biodiesel production.