Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.


Chemical Engineering

Committee Chair

Sunkara, Mahendra K.

Author's Keywords

Zinc oxide nanowires; Reactive adsorption; Sulfur removal; Zeta-potential; Sintering of catalyst; Organic sulfur species


Diesel fuels--Desulfurization; Petroleum--Refining--Desulfurization; Nickel catalysts; Nanowires


A novel catalyst with hydro-desulfurization and hydrogenation capabilities was tested with the aim of producing ultra-low sulfur and aromatics diesel oil. The catalytically active phase is nickel in a reduced valence state on a carrier made of zinc oxide nanowires and alumina. Based on the reactive adsorption principle, it was speculated that enhanced metal-support interactions and short diffusion paths between nickel and zinc oxide could lead to improved activity and sulfur uptake capacity. Zinc oxide nanowires, proposed here as a novel catalyst support, were produced in appreciable quantities in a microwave-induced plasma jet reactor. After purification and decoration with an active nickel phase, the nanowires underwent extensive characterization, which revealed promising properties. On-stream hydrogenation activity and sulfur uptake was tested on a model diesel oil spiked with difficult-to-remove organic sulfur species. It was observed that the proposed catalyst system, as it was assembled in this project, is inferior to existing hydro-desulfurization products. Nevertheless, this undertaking was a first crude attempt and the concept of reactive adsorption was sufficiently demonstrated, which can hopefully be improved upon with succeeding trials.