Biodiesel has emerged as a prominent source to replace petroleum diesel. The cost incurred in the production of biodiesel is higher than that for refining of crude oil to obtain mineral diesel. The heterogeneous catalyst was prepared from crab shells by calcining the crushed mass at 800 degrees C. The solid waste catalyst was characterized with XRD, XPS, BET, SEM-EDS, and FT-IR. Millettia pinnata (karanja) oil extracted from its seeds was used as a feedstock for the synthesis of biodiesel. Biodiesel was synthesized through esterification followed by transesterification in a two-step process. Characterization of biodiesel was done using proton NMR spectroscopy. Reaction parameters such as reaction time, reaction temperature, concentration of catalyst and stirrer speed were optimized. Reusability of catalyst was checked and found that there was no loss of catalytic activity up to five times. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.