Synthesis of High Surface Area Mesoporous Catalysts from Carbon Sources for the Production of Biodiesel

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Date of Award

Summer 2018


Depletion of fossil fuels and environmental pollution are issues that have increased interest in the production of biodiesel from plant and animal sources. In this thesis, starch was investigated as the precursor to synthesize various mesoporous catalysts with a pore size of 2–50 nm, for the esterification of oleic acid with methanol as the probe reaction for the production of biodiesel. The main aims of this thesis were to ensure larger surface areas and a high number of active sites attached to the catalyst to function effectively at minimal concentrations and the use of the hydrothermal technique to provide higher surface area values. The results show that the activity of mesoporous catalysts is a function of surface properties such as surface areas, porosity, and acid density. The functional groups attached to the structure can be depicted by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, acid-base titration, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. It was concluded that careful attention is needed during each stage of catalyst preparation-such as gelatinization, retrogradation, exchange, drying, and sulfonation to result in catalysts with high acid density values for the production of biodiesel. Amylose is reported to have the best results (surface area 136.2 m2/gm) on hydrothermal treatment for 150 min and 195 min, respectively, which reduces the overall time for catalysts preparation and the concentration ratio used with water was roughly 1:25. The conversion rate and acid density value for the amylose prepared catalysts (90%) was higher than the commercially available catalysts (68%).


Ben W-L Jang

Subject Categories

Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Chemistry | Life Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics