Nb2O5/HX (X = HSO4-, H2PO4-, NO3-) compounds were obtained from the treatment of niobium acid (Nb2O5·xH2O) with sulfuric, phosphoric, and nitric acids as well as Nb2O5 and Nb2O5·xH2O have been investigated as catalysts for the transesterification, esterification and pyrolysis of vegetable oils. The compounds were characterized by thermal analysis (DTA-TGA), spectroscopy (DRX, FT-IR and FT-Raman), surface area (BET) and the acidity (Ho) determined by n-butylamine titration using the Hammet´s indicator method. It was observed that after the acid treatment both the surface area and the acidity decreased as compared to the starting Nb2O5·xH2O. The only exception was a higher acidity verified when nitric acid was used. Among the catalyst investigated, the Nb2O5/H3PO4 presented the highest activity in the alcoholysis of soybean oil with different mono-alcohols (methanol, ethanol, 2-propanol, n-butanol). All tested solids seemed to stabilize the carboxylic acids formed during the pyrolysis, yielding higher acid numbers for the obtained products. Finally, the use of Nb2O5/H3PO4 and Nb2O5/H2SO4 as catalysts for the esterification showed better activity than Nb2O5·xH2O and Nb2O5.
Rafael L. Quirino, Rodrigo F. Brandão, Vinicius M. Mello, André P. Tavares, Antônio C. Peres, Flávia Guinhos, Joel C. Rubim, and Paulo A. Z. Suarez. "Synthesis, Characterization and use of Nb2 O5 based Catalysts in Producing Biofuels by Transesterification, Esterification and Pyrolysis" Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society 20 (2009): 954-966.