Effect of Cu and Sn promotion on the catalytic deoxygenation of model and algal lipids to fuel-like hydrocarbons over supported Ni catalysts

Ryan Loe, Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, Tonya Morgan, Lilia Sewell, Yaying Ji, Samantha Jones, Mark A. Isaacs, Adam F. Lee, Mark Crocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of Cu and Sn to promote the performance of a 20% Ni/Al2O3 catalyst in the deoxygenation of lipids to fuel-like hydrocarbons was investigated using model triglyceride and fatty acid feeds, as well as algal lipids. In the semi-batch deoxygenation of tristearin at 260 °C a pronounced promotional effect was observed, a 20% Ni-5% Cu/Al2O3 catalyst affording both higher conversion (97%) and selectivity to C10-C17 alkanes (99%) in comparison with unpromoted 20% Ni/Al2O3 (27% conversion and 87% selectivity to C10-C17). In the same reaction at 350 °C, a 20% Ni-1% Sn/Al2O3 catalyst afforded the best results, giving yields of C10-C17 and C17 of 97% and 55%, respectively, which contrasts with the corresponding values of 87 and 21% obtained over 20% Ni/Al2O3. Equally encouraging results were obtained in the semi-batch deoxygenation of stearic acid at 300 °C, in which the 20% Ni-5% Cu/Al2O3 catalyst afforded the highest yields of C10-C17 and C17. Experiments were also conducted at 260 °C in a fixed bed reactor using triolein − a model unsaturated triglyceride − as the feed. While both 20% Ni/Al2O3 and 20% Ni-5% Cu/Al2O3 achieved quantitative yields of diesel-like hydrocarbons at all reaction times sampled, the Cu-promoted catalyst exhibited higher selectivity to longer chain hydrocarbons, a phenomenon which was also observed in experiments involving algal lipids as the feed. Characterization of fresh and spent catalysts indicates that Cu enhances the reducibility of Ni and suppresses both cracking reactions and coke-induced deactivation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Early online date14 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Funding: This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No.
1437604, by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under award DE-FG36-08GO88043 and by a
Seed Grant from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research. Funding from
the British Council under the Global Innovation Initiative for the GB3-Net project is also
gratefully acknowledged.


  • nickel
  • copper
  • tin
  • deoxygenation
  • lipids


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