Extraction and Characterization of Sunflower Oil from Sunflower Seeds (helianthus annuus) and Production of Biodiesel by Base- Catalyzed Transesterification

Due to the non-renewability and possible future depletion of fossil fuels, there is a need for alternative renewable sources of fuel which will reduce the overall demand for fossil fuels. Biodiesel is one such example of fuel that is similar to fossil diesel yet attainable from a wide variety of locally available vegetable oils and animal fats through trans-esterification process. In Kenya, sunflower seeds grow vastly well in the south-west regions that include areas surrounding the Lake Victoria. This project was based on extraction of oil from sunflower seeds, analysis of physico-chemical properties of the oil, production of methyl esters from the oil using base-catalyzed trans-esterification and studying the physico-chemical characteristics of the methyl esters while comparing them with ASTM D6751(American Society for Testing Materials) for pure biodiesel.

The sunflower oil obtained from 2 kgs of seeds was 675 ml, and the biodiesel produced from base- catalyzed transesterification was 426 ml. The results obtained for the biodiesel showed  satisfactory results within the specification of 0.85 (specific gravity), 4.27 mm2/sec (kinematic viscosity), 0.34 mg NaOH /g (acid value), 126 °C (flash point) and 37,197.29 J/g (calorific value).

Keywords: Sunflower Seed, Biodiesel Production, Alternative Energy Source.

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