Hydrocarbon fuel plays an essential role in modern day society and significant research effort is put forth for fuel characterization, performance optimization, and new procedures for synthesis. Despite the eventual and inevitable shift away from hydrocarbon fossil fuels to more renewable energies, investigations into liquid hydrocarbons remain useful while governments slowly adopt and integrate alternative energies. Many hydrocarbon fuel alternatives can potentially bridge the gap between today's heavy reliance on fossil fuels and future complete adaptation of clean energy. One such alternative is biofuel, which is still hydrocarbon based but is made from bio-materials, most notably plants. Widespread use of biofuels for everyday transportation would increase demand, requiring increased planting of biomass sources which would act to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. A small, but not insignificant improvement to our current practices. A second alternative is the synthesis of fuel from low value chemical feedstock, and even waste products. This option provides the added benefit of potential removal of harmful chemicals from waste streams and producing valuable chemicals from them. This thesis will focus on aspects of these two fossil fuel alternatives: properties of biofuels and hydrocarbon synthesis from syngas. In the first, biofuel-elastomer interactions are investigated to evaluate the compatibility of new biofuels in existing engine systems. It is commonly known that elastomer seals, used for leak prevention in fuel lines, undergo structural changes when exposed to hydrocarbon fuel. We have shown here that these same effects are present for biofuel compounds to differing degrees. Studies were performed in the short- and long-term using ASTM procedure to determine the extent of structural change and degradation as well as the time scale on which it occurs. The focus of the second study is the synthesis of higher order alcohols from chemical feedstocks such as syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide). It has been observed that methanol is produced by flowing syngas over copper catalysts. However, the carbonylation of methanol to form longer carbon chains has therefore not been well characterized. Thus, the products of methanol and carbon monoxide flow over silica-supported Au-MoS2 were studied experimentally to find production of acetaldehyde. A likely chemical pathway to acetaldehyde formation was determined using density functional theory (DFT) modelling.


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Graduation Date





Kapat, Jayanta


Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering; Thermo-Fluids Track




CFE0008324; DP0023761





Release Date

December 2020

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)