Continuous Hydrothermal Decarboxylation of Fatty Acids and Their Derivatives into Liquid Hydrocarbons Using Mo/Al2O3 Catalyst

Md. Zakir Hossain, Muhammad B.I. Chowdhury, Anil Kumar Jhawar, William Z. Xu, Mark C. Biesinger, Paul A. Charpentier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we report a single-step continuous production of straight-chain liquid hydrocarbons from oleic acid and other fatty acid derivatives of interest including castor oil, frying oil, and palm oil using Mo, MgO, and Ni on Al2O3 as catalysts in subcritical water. Straight-chain hydrocarbons were obtained via decarboxylation and hydrogenation reactions with no added hydrogen. Mo/Al2O3 catalyst was found to exhibit a higher degree of decarboxylation (92%) and liquid yield (71%) compared to the other two examined catalysts (MgO/Al2O3, Ni/Al2O3) at the maximized conditions of 375 °C, 4 h of space time, and a volume ratio of 5:1 of water to oleic acid. The obtained liquid product has a similar density (0.85 kg/m3 at 15.6 °C) and high heating value (44.7 MJ/kg) as commercial fuels including kerosene (0.78-0.82 kg/m3 and 46.2 MJ/kg), jet fuel (0.78-0.84 kg/m3 and 43.5 MJ/kg), and diesel fuel (0.80-0.96 kg/m3 and 44.8 MJ/kg). The reaction conditions including temperature, volume ratio of water-to-feed, and space time were maximized for the Mo/Al2O3 catalyst. Characterization of the spent catalysts showed that a significant amount of amorphous carbon deposited on the catalyst could be removed by simple carbon burning in air with the catalyst recycled and reused.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7046-7060
Number of pages15
JournalACS Omega
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 30 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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