Bifunctional catalysis for the valorization of saturated fatty compounds



Scientific disciplines

Chemical Sciences

Research direction

Catalysis, Biocatalysis and Separation

Affiliate site


Producing renewable fuels and chemicals from biomass is mandatory in the fight against climate change as well as land and sea pollution. Fatty acids, derived from the lipid fraction of biomass, are oleochemical molecules of choice for the manufacture of biodegradable surfactants, cosmetics, lubricants and polymers. More specifically, Branched Long-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids (BLCSFAs) have remarkable cold flow properties combined with high thermal and oxidative stability. The synthesis of these molecules, which are not the most common naturally, has been the subject of increased research studies since the mid-90s. The most widely explored routes currently use Linear Long-Chain Unsaturated Fatty Acids as reagents (LLCUFAs). LLCUFAs can either be alkylated with olefins or halogenated alkanes, or directly isomerized. The first route uses homogeneous catalysis, and the second one involves heterogeneous, monofunctional acid, catalysis.
This thesis aims at synthesizing BLCSFAs by an original route, based on bifunctional heterogeneous catalysis. Bifunctional catalysts combine two active phases: a Brønsted acidic one and a hydro/dehydrogenating one. Multidisciplinary work will be carried out, including material syntheses, catalytic evaluation and detailed characterization of the reaction products. The first part of the study will be devoted to the selection and characterization of the active phases. The second part will deal with the development of the catalytic test, coupled with the development of an analytic method for the detailed characterization of the reaction products. The third part will be devoted to the preparation of the corresponding heterogeneous catalysts and the evaluation of their catalytic properties. Finally, work will be carried out on understanding and rationalizing the observed catalytic performances.

Keywords: heterogeneous catalysis, biosourced products

  • Academic supervisor    Dr Gerhard PIRNGRUBER, IFPEN, ORCID: 0000-0003-0688-425X
  • Doctoral School    ED206 Chimie, Procédés, Environnement, Université de Lyon 1, Claude Bernard
  • IFPEN supervisor    Dr Christophe BOUCHY, ORCID: 0000-0002-1414-0333
  • PhD location    IFPEN, Lyon, France
  • Duration and start date    3 years, starting in the fourth quarter 2024 (Novembre 4)
  • Employer    IFPEN
  • Academic requirements    University Master degree in Chemical sciences, Chemical Engineering, Materials Sciences    
  • Language requirements    English level B2 (CEFR), Willingness to learn French 
  • Other requirements    General knowledge in Catalysis

To apply, please send your cover letter and CV to the IFPEN supervisor indicated below.

Encadrant IFPEN :
Dr Christophe BOUCHY