Faculty Advisor

Kmiotek, Stephen J.


Inspired by a chemical explosion involving a drum furfuryl alcohol at a local chemical plant, the team investigated the acid-catalyzed polycondensation of furfuryl alcohol through COMSOL multi-physics modeling and a series of lab experiments. To investigate the explosion, furfuryl alcohol was reacted in stainless steel vessels with methanesulfonic and hydrochloric acid contaminates to observe the changes in temperature and pressure throughout the reaction. The maximum temperature recorded in the experiments was 170.5 °C, and pressures greater than 75 psi were generated. The reaction proved to be both volatile and unpredictable. The timeline of this reaction ultimately allowed the team to develop improved process safety recommendations for the handling of furfuryl alcohol in industry.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

April 2019


Chemical Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Chemical Engineering