Utilization of Ficus carica leaves as a heterogeneous catalyst for production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil

  • Dena A. Kamel
  • Hassan A. Farag
  • Nevin K. Amin
  • Ahmed A. Zatout
  • Yasmine O. FouadEmail author
Research Article


Biodiesel appears to be a possible substitute for non-renewable fossil fuels; however, its production requires the presence of a catalyst to accelerate the reaction. Serving the purpose of finding effective, cheap and environmentally safe, heterogeneous catalysts, this research used the fig leaves in three different forms, calcined, activated by KOH, and activated by both K2CO3 and CaCO3. Their efficiency in biodiesel synthesis, from spent cooking oil, was examined and compared with that of activated carbon which has been previously investigated. The properties of different catalyst forms were specified using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscope and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Operating parameters studied for the three catalysts were reaction time (from 30 to 180 min), alcohol-to-oil molar ratio (from 4:1 to 10:1), catalyst loading (from 0.5 to 5% by wt.), and stirring speed (from 100 to 400 rpm). The increase in reaction time, molar ratio, and catalyst loading proved to have a favorable effect on % conversion to biodiesel but to a certain degree; increasing the stirring speed augmented the conversion. At optimum conditions (2 h of heating, 6:1 alcohol-to-oil molar ratio, 1% by wt. catalyst loading, and 400 rpm stirring), fig leaves activated by KOH provided the highest conversion to biodiesel (92.73%). The measured properties of the produced biodiesel (density, viscosity, flash point, cloud point, and pour point) yielded encouraging results.

Graphical Abstract


Renewable energy sources Solid catalysts Agricultural wastes Non-edible oils Alkali activation 



Free fatty acids


Calcined fig leaves


Fatty acid methyl esters


Fig leaves activated by KOH


Fig leaves activated by a mixture of K2CO3 and CaCO3


Raw fig leaves


Waste cooking oil


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of EngineeringAlexandria UniversityAlexandriaEgypt

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