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Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo

Stephanie McCartney

The Effects of Dimethyl Azelate on the Cloud Point and Heat of Crystallization of Biodiesel

Department: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisors: Michael Senra and Lindsay Soh

Biodiesel is a viable alternative to petro-diesel, but it has poor cold flow properties, most notably its high cloud point. The purpose of this research was to analyze the effects of dimethyl azelate and short-chained fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), C12:0, on various FAME (biodiesel) blends. Dimethyl azelate was chosen as it is formed as a by-product in a particular mechanism to form biodiesel and it has a similar structure to fatty acid methyl esters. C12:0 was chosen because short carbon-chained FAMEs have low cloud points. The research shows that dimethyl azelate and C12:0 improved cold flow properties by lowering the cloud point. The research also showed interesting results such as lower cloud points for binary fatty acid methyl ester solutions than the single components. These results are attributed to co-crystallization of fatty acid methyl esters of similar chain length. Further work was dedicated to fitting the cloud point data to ideal solution theory. The research indicates that biodiesel with similar chain length fatty acid methyl esters does not follow the ideal solution theory due to co-crystallization of the similar chain lengths.

About Stephanie McCartney:
Stephanie McCartney is a junior Chemical Engineering major at Lafayette College. She is an Excel Research Scholar studying the effects of additives on biodiesel blends. By the end of the summer, McCartney hopes to have this work submitted for publishing. This summer she plans to participate in the University of Maine’s Forest Bio-products REU Program where she can continue researching biofuels. Next year, McCartney plans on writing a thesis on how additives effect the viscosity of biodiesel in order to allow the research to come full circle. Upon competition of her undergraduate degree, she plans on pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering with a specialization in biofuels. McCartney is also a Writing Associate (WA) in Lafayette’s College Writing Program and a ChemE Peer Mentor. Outside of the classroom, she runs track and field and cross country for Lafayette’s D1 teams.