Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Forensic Science, M.S.


Chemistry Department


Dr Sujit Suwal

First Reader

Dr Sujit Suwal

Second Reader

Dr Jinseok Heo

Third Reader

Douglas Ridolfi


Biodiesel is an alternative energy resource that can replenish depleting natural petroleum storage. Synthesis of biodiesel is cost-efficient as it can be chemically converted from renewable wastes, such as vegetable oil or animal fat. These fuels are also biodegradable and the exhaust emissions from biodiesel are non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. Biodiesel is a stable fuel that performs reliably in all diesel engines. Biodiesel is also easy to synthesize, safe to handle, and works with diesel fuel storage and pumping systems. The United States has an abundance of vegetable oils that have not been widely used to our advantage. Additionally, fast-food restaurants across the United States produce over 3 billion gallons of used cooking oil each year. These restaurants pay to dispose of the used oil into landfills. In this project, we collected the used vegetable oil from three local restaurants and chemically converted them into biodiesel through transesterification. Furthermore, we successfully developed the GC-MS method that can identify the chemical composition of the biodiesel as well as quantify the esters of fatty acids that are present. Based on the GC pattern, we successfully confirmed the origin of the two samples are soybean and sunflower oils. Interestingly, we found both biodiesels contain the same four fatty acid methyl esters, but in different concentrations. To validate our scientific results, we synthesized biodiesel from cooked/uncooked oil and confirmed our results without any ambiguity. Finally, we studied the physical properties of our biodiesel and compared that with the pure natural diesel as well as biodiesel and diesel mixture.