Doctoral Dissertations


Wenjia Zhang


"Biofuels have gained significant attention as the most promising alternative energy and fuel supply for the near future because of two dominant reasons: first, biofuels are environmentally friendly; and second, they afford a sustainable technology. Biofuels can be synthesized from biomass by several different processes, among which, hydrothermal conversion is considered to be more energy efficient. However, scientific efforts to improve hydrothermal biomass-to-fuel (HT-BTF) conversion efficiencies are severely limited because little is known about the salient reaction mechanisms and intermediates. This study is aimed at a better understanding of the hydrothermal biomass degradation kinetics by advanced NMR spectroscopy and, accordingly, is a significant contribution to find new, efficient and sustainable ways to produce synthetic fuels. A far-reaching impact is anticipated for the development of biomass treatment plants and for related research work conducted nationally and internationally.

In HT-BTF conversion, water is both the solvent and the product, and the quantitative NMR analysis of solutes was hampered by the presence of the strong water signals. In this work, the EXponentially Converging Eradication Pulse Train (EXCEPT) sequence for solvent suppression is introduced, which is found to be extremely tolerant to samples with varying relaxation times. This advanced NMR spectroscopy method was used to characterize intermediates and products, elucidate kinetics, and optimize yields of high-value products. 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, 4-oxopentanoic acid and formic acid were found to form as products during the hydrothermal reaction of D-glucose (a model substrate for cellulosic biomass). It was also found that formic, acetic, and lactic acids as well as methane gas were formed as by-products"--Abstract, page iii.


Woelk, Klaus

Committee Member(s)

Ma, Yinfa
Nam, Paul Ki-souk
Miller, F. Scott, 1956-
Sotiriou-Leventis, Lia



Degree Name

Ph. D. in Chemistry


Missouri University of Science and Technology. Energy Center
National Science Foundation (U.S.)
UMR Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience (OURE)
University of Missouri Research Board


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Fall 2010


xiv, 120 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 111-119).


© 2010 Wenjia Zhang, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Subject Headings

Biomass energy -- Research
Hydrothermal alteration
Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
Synthetic fuels

Thesis Number

T 9710

Print OCLC #


Electronic OCLC #


Link to Catalog Record

Electronic access to the full-text of this document is restricted to Missouri S&T users. Otherwise, request this publication directly from Missouri S&T Library or contact your local library.

Included in

Chemistry Commons