Biodiesel, which is a renewable and environmentally friendly fuel, has been studied widely to help remedy increasing environmental problems. One of the key processes of biodiesel production is oil extraction from oilseed materials. Switchable solvents can reversibly change from molecular to ionic solvents under atmospheric CO2, and can be used for oil extraction. N, N-dimethylcyclohexylamine (DMCHA), a switchable solvent, was used to extract oil from Jatropha curcas L. oil seeds to produce biodiesel. The appropriate extraction conditions were: 1:2 ratio of seed mass to DMCHA volume, 0.3-1mm particle size, 200 rpm agitation speed, 60min extraction time, and 30 °C extraction temperature. The extraction ratio was about 83%. This solvent extracted the oil more efficiently than hexane, and is much less volatile. By bubbling CO2 under 1atm and 25 °C for 5h, the oil was separated, and DMCHA was recovered after releasing CO2 by bubbling N2 under 1atm and 60 °C for 2h. The residual solvent content in oil was about 1.7%. Selectivity of DMCHA was evaluated by detecting the protein and sugar content in oil. Using the oil with residual solvent to conduct transesterification process, the oil conversion ratio was approximately 99.5%.
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