Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Energy Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Chaitanya K. Narula

Committee Members

Brian H. Davison, Siris O. Laursen, Amit K. Naskar


It is our goal to develop inexpensive catalytic pathways that can effectively remove oxygen from bio-derived carboxylic acids and alcohols under mild reaction conditions to produce propene which can be converted to renewable carbon fibers. Carboxylic acid hydrodeoxygenation and alcohol dehydration are necessary for successfully producing propene from bio-mass derived precursors and are also broadly relevant to bio-oil upgrading. This body of research adds to the understanding of both known and novel catalyst materials and develops and optimizes pathways for valorizing oxygenates. Dehydration and hydrodeoxygenation catalysts were examined under both batch and continuous flow operation. Product selectivity and reactant conversion with respect to temperature and space velocity were measured. The most promising catalysts were evaluated in durability studies, <100 hours and found to be stable. The results, described in this thesis, facilitate renewable carbon fiber processes from bio-mass and provide input for techno-economic analysis performed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In addition, these results further advance our understanding of possible heterogeneous transformations relevant to valorizing bio-derived molecules.

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