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Owen McDougal

Owen McDougal, a professor and department chair of organic chemistry, and Narasimharao Kondamudi, an assistant research professor, recently published “Microwave-Assisted Synthesis and Characterization of Stearic Acid Sucrose Ester: A Bio-Based Surfactant” in the February edition of the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents.

Sugar esters are compounds used in a wide range of consumer products, including food, detergents, beauty products and pharmaceuticals. McDougal and Kondamudi’s research focused on synthesizing stearic acid sucrose esters by using a microwave-assisted reactor on the reactants sucrose (found in table sugar) and stearic acid methyl ester. The team then used infrared spectroscopy, high pressure liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to characterize the resulting compounds. In addition, the researchers generated yield optimization using time, temperature and catalyst amounts to show the best experimental conditions.

This work was made possible by financial support from an Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission grant.