What is acid oil?

Acid oils are a by-product of the vegetable oil refining process which are mainly composed of free fatty acids (FFAs) and acylglycerols. It includes leftovers of coconut oil, groundnut seed oil, cashew shell oil, and rice bran oil.

How are acid oils used in biodiesel production?

Acid oils are commonly used as a raw material for biodiesel production. First, the acid oil is treated with a strong acid catalyst, such as sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid, to convert the free fatty acids into fatty acid esters in a process called acid esterification. Then, the fatty acid esters are reacted with an alcohol, typically methanol, in the presence of a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, to produce biodiesel and glycerin in a process known as transesterification. At last, the crude biodiesel is then purified by washing with water to remove any impurities present in the biodiesel. The resulting biodiesel has properties nearly similar to petroleum-based diesel fuel and can be used as a substitute for it.


They are primarily used in the as a raw material for biodiesel, and as a fuel for boilers and other industrial applications. Acid oils are also used in the production of fatty acids, which are used in a wide range of products including soaps, detergents, and cosmetics.


In India, acid oil is widely available. Its expansion is hence essential and highly required. There is a constraint, though. Since free fatty acids make up more than 50% of acid oils, processing them calls for more advanced technology. The potentiality of acid oils in India is significant, particularly in terms of their abundant availability, low cost, high energy content, and potential for employment generation. With the right policies and investments, acid oils could play an important role in the development of the Indian biodiesel industry.


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