Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MSChE)

Degree Level



Chemical Engineering


Jamie Hestekin

Committee Member

Yupo Lin

Second Committee Member

Michael Ackerson

Third Committee Member

Robert Beitle


Applied sciences, Membranes, Pyrolysis oil


Over 70% of the world’s energy consumption is provided by fossil fuels and with those reserves depleting at a fast rate, alternative energy sources or methods are needed to support the world’s energy needs. This research was done in an attempt to make it more economically feasible to produce fuel products, such as bio-diesel, from the upgrading of bio-oil obtained from the pyrolysis of biomass waste material such as sawdust. The high water and oxygenated compound content of bio-oil make it undesirable for fuel use; however, two methods involving surface modified commercial membranes were utilized in hopes of overcoming these problems: electrodialysis and a pressure-driven system. Nafion 117 membrane pores were expanded and then the membrane was subjected to bio-oil at pressures up to 700 psi with the goal of removing the water. Although the pores were enlarged, removing water through this method was unsuccessful. Electrodialysis was used in an effort to remove carboxylic acids from bio-oil, which are known to cause storage instability. The membranes used for this separation were Neosepta CMX and AMX commercial membranes. Modifications to the AMX membrane surface were made by adding crosslinked polyethylenimine groups to the surface of the membrane and its performance was compared to that of the unmodified one. A XPS and FTIR analysis proved the modified membrane to be more resistant to bio-fouling.