Background: Biodiesel, as a green and renewable biofuel, has great potential to replace
fossil diesel. The development of efficient and stable heterogeneous catalysts is vital to produce biodiesel
in an efficient and green way. Nanocatalysts provide a high surface-to-volume ratio as well as
high active site loading and can improve mass transfer, which is beneficial to enhance their catalytic
Objective: The review focuses on the latest advances in the production of biodiesel using nanostructured
Methods: Biodiesel is mainly produced through esterification and transesterification reaction using
acids, bases or lipases as catalysts. We mainly review the synthesis methods and physicochemical
properties of various basic, acidic and lipase nanocatalysts. Meanwhile, their catalytic activities in
biodiesel production are also discussed.
Results: Alkali nanocatalysts are mainly suitable for transformation of oils with low acid values to
biodiesel via transesterification reaction. In contrast, acidic nanocatalysts are not sensitive to water as
well as free fatty acids and can avoid saponification associated with basic nanocatalysts while promote
simultaneous esterification and transesterification reaction. However, acid-catalyzed transesterification
usually requires harsh reaction conditions. In addition, the lipase-catalyzed process is
also suitable for non-edible oils containing high contents of free fatty acids, which possess environmental
and economic advantages.
Conclusion: Nanocatalysts have many advantages such as good accessibility with nanostructure,
high active site loading and reduction of mass transfer resistance. However, most of those materials
undergo deactivation after several cycles. Therefore, the development of more efficient, stable, and
low-cost nanocatalysts is desirable for producing biodiesel.