Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical and Chemical Engineering


Jesse Q. Bond

Second Advisor

Benjamin A. Kumgeh


Continuous Stirred Tank Reactor, Dehydration, Homogeneous, Kinetics, Sugar Chemistry, Sulfuric Acid

Subject Categories



Simple sugars (Aldohexoses/pentoses), (Ketohexoses/pentose) when subjected to a dehydration reaction, produce various compounds. An example of one such compound is 5-hydroxymethyl furfural. Such chemical products may be used in subsequent processing steps (hydrolysis, aldol condensation, hydrogenation and dehydration) to produce similarly structured condensed compounds that form the basis of complex molecules used in various industries such as production of fuels, chemical reagents and fertilizers. Most studies focus on heterogeneous packed beds and batch reactors to carry out dehydration reactions. This study illustrates use of a Continuous Stirred-Tank reactor to carry out such dehydration reactions. In order to maintain the homogenous nature of the reaction, the catalyst chosen was sulfuric acid. Use of a CSTR would allow study of kinetics and yields for varying residence times. This data could be used to design large scale operations in biomass processing. This study is aimed at investigating variables such as changing physical properties of the fluid reactant during reaction, variation in pH and consequent change in proton concentrations. By understanding the impact of these variables, more accurate rate measurements can be made. In the process of developing the right method for data acquisition, several substantial changes were made to the reactor and methods. These changes were instrumental in development of a cyclic process of data collection and changing methods and design, thus highlighting the chemical engineering heuristics approach and refinement in processes. The sequence of corrected results give us better insight into the process and help develop accurate models for the reactions in the scope of this thesis and also future studies. The presented results of rates and yields may be used to develop processes based on requirement and feasibility.


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