A series of silica gel (SG) supported metal ionic liquid catalysts (x[Bmim]Cl-CrCl3/SG) were synthesized and exploited for the esterification of palmitic acid (PA) with methanol (ML) to produce biodiesel efficiently. The 10%[Bmim]Cl-CrCl3/SG catalyst with high surface area and desirable acidity exhibited the best catalytic performance and reusability after six consecutive running cycles. Based on the response surface analysis, the optimal reaction conditions were obtained as follows: methanol/acid mole ratio = 11:1 mol/mol, catalyst amount = 5.3 wt%, reaction time = 65 min, as well as reaction temperature = 373 K, reaching to a biodiesel yield of 96.1%. Further kinetic studies demonstrated that the esterification of PA with ML obeyed 1.41 order kinetics for acid concentration with the activation energy of 16.88 kJ/mol

Guo Yingwei, Chen Xuedan, Yan Shiting, Zhang Zhengliang, Chen Yuqin, Zheng Lina Zhu Guangqi and Han Xiaoxiang