Date of Award

Winter 2006

Project Type


Program or Major

Chemical Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

P T Vasudevan


Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is the most common oxygenated fuel additive used in gasoline to improve combustion and reduce air emissions. MTBE is commonly found in natural water as contaminate from gasoline spills. Remediation of the contaminated water is difficult by traditional treatments. In this thesis, degradation of MTBE using Fenton's reaction was studied. The effect of pH, concentration of ferric ammonium sulfate and hydrogen peroxide on the removal efficiency of MTBE was studied and optimum conditions were determined experimentally. A maximum conversion of 90% was achieved when 0.14 M MTBE was reacted with 1.1 g/L ferric ammonium sulfate and 6.667 M hydrogen peroxide at a pH of 4 units. This reaction produced various byproducts like tertiary butyl alcohol, methyl acetate, acetone and 1-methyl-2-propene. It was observed that the product compounds get readily adsorbed on carbon and silica gel. Results show that carbon is a better adsorbent than silica gel but carbon gets oxidized due to H2O2 present in Fenton's reagent.

Studies were carried out on the degradation of MTBE using enzymes like horse radish peroxidase, lignin peroxidase and manganese peroxidase. It was observed that in the presence of 1 g/L phenol and 0.2 M H2O 2, 16 units/mL horse radish peroxide degraded 0.2 M MTBE to about 10% at room temperature and pH 6 units. Manganese peroxidase (5 units/ml) also degraded 15-20% of 0.2 M MTBE when 1 g/L phenol and 0.2 M H2O 2 were added to it at room temperature and 4 pH units. 0.025 units/ml of lignin peroxidase showed no effect on the degradation of MTBE under similar conditions.