In this study, a solid acid was prepared by the sulfonation of surface modified α-zirconium phosphate (ZrP) single-layer nanosheets (SO3H@ZrP), and the prepared solid acid was investigated for the esterification of oleic acid with methanol to produce biodiesel. For comparison, liquid H2SO4 and commercial Amberlyst® 15 catalyst were also evaluated for the same reaction under the same conditions. The experimental results showed that the SO3H@ZrP solid acid catalyst has a superior catalytic efficiency for the esterification reaction, as well as excellent recyclability. The SO3H@ZrP single-layer solid acid catalyst can be uniformly dispersed in the reaction media, but remains heterogeneous and thus can be easily separated and recycled.
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