Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Arvind Varma

Committee Member 1

Arvind Varma

Committee Member 2

Fabio H Ribeiro

Committee Member 3

Doraiswami Ramkrishna

Committee Member 4

Mahdi Abu-Omar


Pyrolysis of biomass is a promising technology to convert solid biomass into liquid bio-oils. However, bio-oils have high water and oxygen content which subsequently lowers their energy density relative to conventional hydrocarbons. For these reasons, an upgrading process is required. Catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) is a rapidly developing technology for oxygen removal from pyrolysis bio-oils and noble metal catalysts have shown promising activities, especially as compared to the traditional hydrodesulphurization catalysts (e.g. CoMo/Al2O3 and NiMo/Al2O3). However, further understanding and development of the catalysts through improving robustness, increasing the oil yield and reducing the hydrogen consumption are still required. In this work, guaiacol, a phenol derived compound produced by the thermal degradation of lignin, was selected as a model compound to study the HDO process. Guaiacol is selected because it is among the major components of pyrolysis bio-oils, but it is thermally unstable and leads to catalyst deactivation.