Biodiesel is produced by transesterification of animal fat, vegetable oil, or waste cooking oil with alcohol. After production costs, the economic viability of biodiesel is dependent on what steps are necessary to remove impurities following synthesis and the effectiveness of quality control analysis. Solid-phase extraction offers a potentially advantageous approach in biodiesel processing applications. Nanoporous scaffolds were investigated for adsorption of glycerol, a side product of biodiesel synthesis that is detrimental to engine combustion when present. Materials were synthesized with varying pore wall composition, including ethane and diethylbenzene bridging groups, and sulfonated to promote hydrogen bonding interactions with glycerol. Materials bearing sulfonate groups throughout the scaffold walls as well as those post-synthetically grafted onto the surfaces show notably superior performance for uptake of glycerol. The sorbents are effective when used in biodiesel mixtures, removing greater than 90% of glycerol from a biodiesel preparation.
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