Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Mark Crocker

Second Advisor

Dr. John Selegue


Diminishing petroleum reserves and environmental considerations have strengthened the demand for developing renewable fuel technologies. One alternative is deoxygenating plant oils, animal fats, and waste lipid streams to fuel-like hydrocarbons. These fuels offer a drop-in replacement to petroleum products while potentially becoming carbon neutral, satisfying both fuel and environmental concerns. This fuel is obtained through catalytic deoxygenation via either hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) or decarboxylation/ decarbonylation (deCOx). HDO requires problematic sulfided catalysts and extreme hydrogen pressures to convert lipids to fuel-like hydrocarbons. Therefore, this work focuses on the deCOx pathway, where hydrogen is not required for deoxygenation to take place. Generally, other authors use Pd or Pt as the active metals for deCOx; however, their cost can be industrially prohibitive. Recently, inexpensive Ni catalysts have shown comparable catalytic deCOx activity to Pd and Pt, albeit significant catalyst deactivation and catalytic cracking to undesirable products remain problematic. Therefore, this work aims to improve the activity, selectivity, and recyclability of supported Ni catalysts for the deCOx of lipids. Cu, Sn, and minimal amount of Pt were investigated as secondary promoter metals for Ni catalysts for deCOx. Deoxygenation of waste lipids such as brown grease and yellow grease was also accomplished in an industrially relevant fixed bed reactor.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. 1437604, 1531637, 1305039, and 1355438 and by the U.S. Departments of Energy under award DE-FG36-08GO88043.