The Second IASTED International Conference on
Environmental Management and Engineering
EME 2010

July 15 – 17, 2010
Banff, Alberta, Canada


Frontiers in Catalysis for Meeting Climate Change Issues in the 21st Century

Dr. Ajay K. Dalai
Associate Dean, Research and Partnerships
Professor and Canada Research Chair, Bioenergy and Environmentally Friendly Chemical Processing
University of Saskatchewan, Canada


The crude oil demand is in rise globally, and both population and conventional oils are in short supply. The demand for efficient processing of crude oil and novel oil production processes is increasing day by day. As a result, there is a shift to alternate industrial feedstock and green processes in this century to produce fuels and chemicals from renewable biomass resources. The biofuel produced from biomass, such as plants and organic wastes, reduces the world's dependency on fossil fuel and minimizes the fossil fuel burning, CO2 production, and global warming. Additionally, biofuel production along with bioproducts provides new income and employment opportunities to agricultural sector and in rural areas.
This presentation will include an overview of the petroleum refining and biofuel refining processes and the cutting edge research needed for the reduction of green house gas emissions. The efficient hydroprocessing of gas oils will be highlighted and the performances of a number of novel catalysts for this process will be presented.
Research related to biodiesel production using homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts has been in progress world wide for the past decade. The current research is focused on the production and analysis of biodiesel. In the production part, various vegetable oils such as canola oil, greenseed canola oil, used cooking oil, soybean oil, karanja oil, and jatropa oil were used as feedstock for transesterification with short-chain alcohols (mainly methanol and ethanol) utilizing both homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts. For homogeneous catalysis, H2SO4 and KOH are used to catalyze esterification and transesterification, respectively. An ASTM grade biodiesel is achieved using homogeneous catalysts. Heterogeneous catalysis on esterification/transesterification was studied in response to simplify the biodiesel purification process where the requirement for process water is drastically reduced. Various heterogeneous solid acid catalysts have been tested for their activity towards esterification and transesterification of feedstock containing up to 15% free fatty acid (FFA). This will be discussed in the presentation. The other important processes include the catalytic conversion of green house gases such as methane and carbon dioxide to syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide).
Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis is an important process for the conversion of synthesis gas (derived from farm waste, municipal wastes and forest residues) to liquid fuels. These fuels are free from sulfur and nitrogen compounds and are thus quite clean with high octane and cetane numbers. In this presentation, the effects of novel materials such as carbon nanotubes on the structure of iron and cobalt catalysts on Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reaction rates and selectivities to produce higher hydrocarbons compared to those on available commercial catalysts will be discussed.