Preparation and optimization of macroalgae-derived solid acid catalysts

María Jiménez Toro, Xin Dou, Isaac Ajewole, Jiawei Wang, Katie J Chong, Ning Ai, Ganning Zeng, Tao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Solid acid catalysts were synthesized from macroalgae Sargassum horneri via hydrothermal carbonization followed by sulfuric acid sulfonation. A three-variable Box-Behnken design and optimization was used to maximize surface acidity. The optimal preparation conditions were found to be at the carbonization temperature of 217 °C, the carbonization time of 4.6 h and the sulfonation temperature of 108.5 °C. Under these conditions, the highest surface acidity achieved was 1.62 mmol g−1. Physical and chemical properties of prepared solid acid catalyst were characterized by powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and elemental analysis. The results proved the grafting of –SO3H groups on an amorphous carbon structure. The catalyst activity was evaluated by the esterification of oleic acid with methanol. The sample prepared achieved 96.6% esterification yield, which was higher than the 86.7% yield achieved by commercial Ambersyst-15 under the same reaction conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)805–816
Number of pages12
JournalWaste and Biomass Valorization
Early online date16 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of United Kingdom 2017

Funding: Natural Science Foundation of China (LY16B060014), Zhejiang ocean economic innovation achievements transformation and industrialization of development area demonstration projects (2015-83)


  • Solid acid catalyst
  • Biomass
  • Hydrothermal carbonization
  • Esterification
  • Box-Behnken design


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