Honors Program

Honors in Chemistry

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Dane W. Scott

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Abbas G. Shilabin, David Harker


Renewable sources such as cellulose derived biofuels are sought after in order to replace fossil fuel sources that are currently used to meet energy demands. Cellulose is a biological polymer composed of a chain of glucose molecules. Hydrolysis of cellulosic materials then has potential to serve as a source of renewable energy in the form of biofuels. The crystalline structure of cellulose is very stable, and current methods of catalyzed hydrolysis are inefficient for industrial application. This project explores the use of phosphomolybdic acid (PMA) in water to catalyze hydrolysis of microcrystalline cellulose. Temperature of hydrolysis was varied from 40 °C – 100 °C. The amount of soluble hydrolysis product was determined through wet oxidative total organic carbon analysis using a Hach method kit. Total organic carbon content is compared between equimolar amounts of PMA and sulfuric acid, the current industry preference. The yield of total organic carbon in parts per thousand (ppt) is directly correlated to increasing temperatures. Across these temperatures, PMA is more efficient than sulfuric acid in hydrolysis of cellulosic materials. Work is ongoing for glucose-specific product detection as well as evaluating the recyclability of the catalyst.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

Creative Commons License

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