Grasas y Aceites, Vol 65, No 1 (2014)

Synthesis of palm-based ethylhexyl ester as a synthetic base oil for drilling fluids using chemical transesterification

N. S.H.A. Habib
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Faculty, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

R. Yunus
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Faculty, Universiti Putra Malaysia - Institute of Advanced Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

U. Rashid
Institute of Advanced Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

Y. H. Taufiq-Yap
Centre of Excellence for Catalysis Science and Technology, Faculty of Science; Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

Z. Z. Abidin
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Faculty, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

A. M. Syam
Institute of Advanced Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia - Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malikussaleh, Malaysia


In the present study the synthesis of a palm based ethylhexyl ester was examined through a transesterification reaction of palm oil methyl ester (POME) with 2-ethylhexanol (EH). A sodium methoxide in methanol solution was used as a catalyst. The reaction was carried out at a fixed pressure of 1.5 mbar by varying the temperature (80–140 °C), POME/2EH molar ratio (1:1.5–1:2.2), reaction time (0.5–4 h) and catalyst concentration (1–2% w/w). The reaction with 2-ethylhexanol involved a single step reversible reaction, thus, the reaction was completed in a very short time. The optimum conditions were obtained in less than 30 minutes with 1.5 mbar pressure, 70 °C, and 1:2 molar ratio of POME to 2EH. The analysis of the final product (ethylhexyl ester) was performed using gas chromatography which exhibited 98% of ethyl hexyl ester yield. The gas chromatography analysis of ethyl hexyl ester revealed two major esters peaks i.e. ethyl hexyl palmitate and ethylhexyl oleate.


Ethylhexyl ester; Gas chromatography; Optimization; Reaction parameters

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