Ph.D. Defense| Elia Colleoni


Pyrolysis of Complex Hydrocarbon Mixtures: Experimental Campaign and Modelling Approach


Elia Colleoni, PhD candidate supervised by Prof. William Roberts

Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

Time: 4:00 - 6:00 PM

Location: Building 5, Level 5, Room 5209



This dissertation focuses on the development of a predictive and versatile kinetic mechanism for describing the pyrolysis of heavy liquid fuels. Inspired by analogous gas-phase reactivity, the foundational assumption posits that large hydrocarbon molecules undergo pyrolysis in the liquid phase without substantial interactions with their surroundings. 

The research is structured into two primary phases. Initially, a thorough experimental investigation is conducted to examine the elemental composition, chemical structure, pyrolysis process, and pyrolysates characterization of two oil samples and their respective SARA fractions. The results confirm that, similar to the gas phase, large hydrocarbons undergo pyrolysis in the liquid phase with minimal interactions. This observation remains consistent even when account- ing for molecular groupings such as SARA fractions, simplifying the modeling task from the entire oil to more manageable fractions. In the second phase, the collected experimental data guides the development of four SARA-independent models, demonstrating versatility and predictiveness in describing pyrolysis. The description of oil samples is defined by merging the models developed for indi- vidual fraction. Model is finally validated using literature data and applied to two industrially relevant test cases to simulate the gasification process of heavy hydrocarbons. 

The outcomes of the study are a comprehensive characterization framework and kinetic model, offering a novel approach to simulate diverse heavy liquid fuels and their fractions. Additionally, the development of Py-GCxGC-TOF-MS data interpretation software adds a valuable tool to the field. The experimental  investigation and modeling approach proposed in this dissertation for residual fuels can potentially be applied to many different complex feedstocks, such as biomasess or plastic mixtures. 


Elia Colleoni received his MS degree in chemical engineering from Politecnico of Milano in 2021. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering at CCRC under the supervision of Professor William Roberts. He is working on ultrasonically oxidative desulfurization, pyrolysis and gasification of residual fuels, and metal recovery from wasted Li-ion batteries.