Continuous catalytic deoxygenation of waste free fatty acid-based feeds to fuel-like hydrocarbons over a supported Ni-Cu catalyst

Ryan Loe, Yasmeen Lavoignat, Miranda Maier, Mohanad Abdallah, Tonya Morgan, Dali Qian, Robert Pace, Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, Mark Crocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


While commercial hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) processes convert fats, oils, and grease (FOG) to fuel-like hydrocarbons, alternative processes based on decarboxylation/decarbonylation (deCOx) continue to attract interest. In this contribution, the activity of 20% Ni-5% Cu/Al2O3 in the deCOx of waste free fatty acid (FFA)-based feeds—including brown grease (BG) and an FFA feed obtained by steam stripping a biodiesel feedstock—was investigated, along with the structure-activity relationships responsible for Ni promotion by Cu and the structural evolution of catalysts during use and regeneration. In eight-hour experiments, near quantitative conversion of the aforementioned feeds to diesel-like hydrocarbons was achieved. Moreover, yields of diesel-like hydrocarbons in excess of 80% were obtained at all reaction times during a BG upgrading experiment lasting 100 h, after which the catalyst was successfully regenerated in situ and found to display improved performance during a second 100 h cycle. Insights into this improved performance were obtained through characterization of the fresh and spent catalyst, which indicated that metal particle sintering, alloying of Ni with Cu, and particle enrichment with Cu occur during reaction and/or catalyst regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant nos. 1437604, 1531637, and 1444779, as well as by a research support grant from the University of Kentucky Office of the Vice-President for Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Brown grease
  • Copper
  • Decarbonylation
  • Decarboxylation
  • Deoxygenation
  • Free fatty acids
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Nickel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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