Development of Heterogeneous Mesoporous Acid Catalyst for the Esterification of Oleic Acid with Methanol

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Date of Award

Fall 2014


A homogeneous or a heterogeneous acid or base catalyst is generally used in biodiesel production to increase the yield. Earlier studies showed that cornstarch was more effective than the conventional starch as a precursor in developing acid catalysts for biodiesel production in terms of yield and energy efficiency. However, heterogeneous acid catalysts suffer from a low number of acidic sites and diffusional limitations that can be theoretically improved by increasing the mesoporous nature of the catalyst, which involves further modification of the catalysts. In this study, a heterogeneous mesoporous solid acid catalyst, derived from cornstarch, is employed to overcome the disadvantages of other catalysts mentioned above. Mesoporous acid catalysts with pore diameters ranging between 2 nm and 50 nm was attained by the expansion of starch, including gelatinization, retrogradation and dehydration via solvent exchange, followed by pyrolysis and sulfonation. The resulting catalysts are highly active in esterification reaction of oleic acid (10 mmol) with methanol (100 mmol). Conversions of >90 % are achieved within 10 min of the reaction at 80 ??C with 140 mg catalyst loading (2.3 %). 30mg catalyst loading (0.5 %) has shown >60 % conversion for the same time of the reaction (with all the parameters remaining constant). Thermal reaction was found to be as effective as ultrasonic reaction.


Ben W. L. Jang

Subject Categories

Chemistry | Physical Sciences and Mathematics