Abstract

Biodiesel was synthesized from different commercially available oils while in-line Raman and near-infrared (NIR) spectra were obtained simultaneously, and the spectral changes that occurred during the reaction were evaluated with principal component analysis (PCA). Raman and NIR spectra were acquired every 30 s with fiber optic probes inserted into the reaction vessel. The reaction was performed at 60-70 °C using magnetic stirring. The time of reaction was 90 min, and during this time, 180 Raman and NIR spectra were collected. NIR spectra were collected using a transflectance probe and an optical path length of 1 mm at 8 cm<sup>−1</sup> spectral resolution and averaging 32 scans; for Raman spectra a 3 s exposure time and three accumulations were adequate for the analysis. Raman spectroscopy showed the ester conversion as evidenced by the displacement of the C=O band from 1747 to 1744 cm<sup>−1</sup> and the decrease in the intensity of the 1000-1050 cm<sup>−1</sup> band and the 1405 cm<sup>−1</sup> band as methanol was consumed in the reaction. NIR spectra also showed the decrease in methanol concentration with the band in the 4750-5000 cm<sup>−1</sup> region; this signal is present in the spectra of the transesterification reaction but not in the neat oils. The variations in the intensity of the methanol band were a main factor in the in-line monitoring of the transesterification reaction using Raman and NIR spectroscopy. The score plot of the first principal component showed the progress of the reaction. The final product was analyzed using <sup>1</sup>H nuclear magnetic resonance (<sup>1</sup>H NMR) spectroscopy and using mid-infrared spectroscopy, confirming the conversion of the oils to biodiesel.

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