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Thermal Cracking of Lipids to Produce Renewable Fuels and Platform Chemicals Open Access


Other title
Renewable hydrocarbons
Double bond
Fatty acids
fats and oils
Thermal cracking
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Asomaning, Justice
Supervisor and department
Bressler, David C. (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Examining committee member and department
Lavoie, Jean-Michel (Chemical Engineering and Biotecnology Engineering)
Curtis, Jonathan (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Gray, Murray R. (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Temelli, Feral (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science
Bioresource and Food Engineering
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
There are increasing social and economic pressures to develop renewable alternatives to fossil derived fuels and chemicals as well as renewable and biodegradable industrial and consumer products and materials. This has led to renewed focus on converting agricultural and forestry feedstocks (biomass) into multiple renewable commodities. The conversion of vegetable oils and animal fats using thermal cracking reactions represents a very promising option for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals. The first objective of this dissertation research was to study the pyrolysis behaviour of model unsaturated fatty acids with focus on identification of reaction products under different conditions. Oleic acid and linoleic acid were pyrolyzed in batch microreactors at 350 – 450 °C for reaction times 0.5 – 8 h under N2 at atmospheric pressure. The results showed the production of a series of hydrocarbons in the liquid product with the n-alkane series being the most abundant. Low molecular weight fatty acids particularly C9 and C10 carbon chains were also formed in the liquid product. The presence of the double bond resulted in simultaneous deoxygenation and cracking of the alkyl chain, particularly at the allylic carbon bond. Deoxygenation occurred through both decarboxylation and decarbonylation pathways, the predominance of which was temperature dependent. The thermal cracking of oleic acid under light hydrocarbon gas atmosphere was conducted to study the effect on reaction product yields and composition. The results showed no significant influence of saturated light hydrocarbon gases compared to inert atmosphere. On the other hand the unsaturated light hydrocarbon gases resulted in significant increases in liquid product yield, conversion, deoxygenation and formation of branched hydrocarbon compounds. The second objective was to study the thermal cracking of low cost inedible lipid feedstocks using a two-step thermal hydrolysis-pyrolysis process. Beef tallow, brown grease, yellow grease and cold pressed camelina oil were used as feedstocks. The result showed that the organic liquid product yields were not significantly affected by the feedstock source of origin. Fuel property testing of crude batch pyrolytic product revealed the organic liquid products was composed of approximately 30% gasoline boiling range and 50% in the diesel boiling range compounds.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
J. Asomaning, P. Mussone, D.C. Bressler, Thermal Deoxygenation and Pyrolysis of Oleic Acid, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 105 (2014) 1-7.J. Asomaning, P. Mussone, D.C. Bressler, Pyrolysis of Poly Unsaturated Fatty acids, Fuel Processing Technology. 120 (2013): 89-95.J. Asomaning, P. Mussone, D.C. Bressler, Thermal cracking of free fatty acids in inert and light hydrocarbon gas atmospheres. (2014). DOI:
. Asomaning, P. Mussone, D.C. Bressler, Two-stage thermal conversion of inedible lipid feedstocks to renewable chemicals and fuels. Bioresource Technology 158 (2014): 55-62.

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