• biodiesel fuel;
  • two-phase flow;
  • microreactor;
  • transesterification;
  • droplets


Flow patterns in the course of transesterification of waste cooking oil (WCO), sunflower oil (SFO) with water and/or oleic acid as a model of WCO, and pure SFO in the presence of a KOH catalyst in microtubes were investigated. FAME yield for the transesterification of WCO reached more than 89% in the microtube reactors with a residence time of 252 s at 333 K. The flow patterns when using WCO were changed from a liquid–liquid slug flow at the inlet region to a parallel flow at the middle region, and then to a homogeneous liquid flow at the outlet region as the reaction proceeded at 333 K. Fine droplets containing glycerol and methanol generally formed in oil slugs when using pure SFO, but were almost unobservable when using WCO. The soap produced from free fatty acids was considered to be the main factor affecting the flow patterns of WCO and SFO. © 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2010