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Keywords:

  • Biodiesel;
  • ionic liquid;
  • transesterification;
  • triglyceride;
  • alcoholysis;
  • microalgae

Abstract

During the past decade, ionic liquids (ILs) have gained tremendous attention in nearly every branch of the chemical and physical sciences as designer (task-driven) and budding ‘green’ solvent alternatives to conventional volatile organics. In particular, with a more in-depth understanding of their physicochemical properties, the active exploration of ILs as alternative solvents and/or catalysts in the chemical or enzymatic (biocatalytic) production of biodiesel has gained momentum. Most excitingly, very recent developments in the science of deep eutectic solvents (DESs) have initiated potentially more cost-effective approaches to biodiesel synthesis. At this stage, there is sufficient research completed to provide an important opportunity to stand back and assess the progress in the field, critically examining the strengths and limitations for IL and DES technology in biodiesel synthesis. No such comprehensive evaluation exists. This work, therefore, seeks to bridge this gap by systematically reviewing the reported methods for biodiesel production which make use of ILs, either as (co)solvent components or catalysts, highlighting existing problems and limitations, with an emphasis placed on the future research required to bypass the hurdles to employing ILs in commercial biodiesel production. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry