Yan Pu

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Chemical and Paper Engineering


Paper Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Imaging

First Advisor

Dr. Paul D. Fleming III

Second Advisor

Dr. Dewei Qi

Third Advisor

Dr. Jan Pekarovic

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Biodiesel fuel produced from biomass material is a renewable and promising substitute fuel for petroleum diesel fuel, and it is relatively environmentally friendly. The Pulping process involves a huge amount of lignocellulosic materials. There may be a great potential of combining this fact with the biodiesel production, as well as the present biodiesel technologies.

This thesis focuses on the esterification reaction behavior of three main components of tall oil fatty acids, which are byproducts of paper manufacture. They are stearic acid, palmitic acid and oleic acid. Three levels of both catalyst and methanol were employed in the esterification for each acid to find out the optimal reaction condition. It was found that with the medium catalyst and medium methanol amount, stearic acid showed the highest average reaction rate. Either the high catalyst level coupled with low methanol level or the medium catalyst level and high methanol level led to the highest average reaction rate for palmitic acid. Under low methanol level, both medium and high level of catalyst for oleic acid contributed to a high average reaction rate. A GC/MS analysis was also carried out to identify the final product of each reaction. Combined with the chromatograms and mass spectrums, we confirmed that the products we obtain were exactly targeted methyl esters.