Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Steven Suib

Co-Major Advisor

Richard Parnas

Associate Advisor

Luyi Sun

Associate Advisor

Ranjan Srivastava

Associate Advisor

George Bollas

Field of Study

Chemical Engineering


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


An ever increasing global energy demand and evolving geopolitical scenarios has put the non- renewable and depleting petroleum resources under pressure. This, coupled with a concern for the environment, make the development of alternative and renewable sources of fuel, as a replacement for fossil fuels, an imperative task for the transition to a sustainable energy future. The production of biofuels from waste and renewable biomass needs to be catalyzed by acids and bases. However, homogenous acids, while efficient, come with concomitant problems of product purification, equipment corrosion, non-reusability while being environmental hazards. These issues are mitigated by heterogeneous catalysts.

This thesis explores the development and application of several novel nanoporous heterogeneous solid acids and solid bases that successfully catalyze the conversion of renewable and waste biomass feedstock such as vegetable oils, cellulose, algae, brown grease and acidulated bone oil into fuels and biorenewable chemicals. The catalysts were used for developing and optimizing renewable resource utilization processes. As an example, the 100% transformation of a municipal waste such as brown grease into biodiesel, synthesis gas and bio-oil illustrates the prototype blue print of a process which can be used for power generation and biofuel production from a low grade feedstock and a potential health hazard with high municipal management costs and little alternative avenues for usage.

The novel chemistries employed in the synthesis of these structures results in nano materials with very high surface area, mesoporosity and superhydrophobic character with catalytic activities superior to all corresponding commercially available solid catalysts. In some studies, the catalytic activity was found to be superior to even homogenous catalysts. In addition, the limited reduction in catalytic activity over cycles of usage make these nanoporous heterogeneous catalysts attractive and sustainable candidates for the development of scaled up reactor modules to commercialize biofuels and biorenewable chemical production with minimal ramifications on the environment and production equipment.