College of Engineering

Dalai, Ajay K.

B.Tech. (India)
Professor of Chemical Engineering and Canada Research Chair
Bio-energy and Environmentally Friendly Chemical Processing
Special Advisor on Energy and Natural Resources, Office of the Vice-President Research

Phone: 966-4768
Office: 3B48.7
Personal Web:


Education and Experience:
1990 Ph.D., University of Saskatchewan, Canada, Chemical Engineering
1984 M.Tech., Indian Institute of Technology, India, Chemical Engineering
1982 B.Sc. Tech., Nagpur University, India, Chemical Engineering (Petro-chem.Major)
1979 B.Sc. Utkal University, India, Chemistry (Hons)
1977 I.Sc. Utkal University, India, Physics, Chemistry, and Math

Professional Engineer (Alberta), 1993-2000
Professional Engineer (Saskatchewan), 2000-present

Professor Dalai's research areas include environmental catalysis such as alkylates from butane using solid acids and conversion of sulphur containing compounds from gases and waste water and other streams; chemical process and product development; upgrading and hydrotreating of hydrocarbon fluids; renewable energy such as hydrogen and bio-diesel from bio-mass and bio-oils; production and applications of activated carbon for mercury removal from flue gases; production of carbon nano tubes, and their catalytic applications.

Specialization: Renewable Energy, Heavy Oil and Gas Processing, Catalytic Reaction Engineering

Current and Past Projects:
The following research projects are now being carried out in his catalysis and Chemical Reaction Engineering Laboratories.

1. Hydrodesulfurization (HDS) and Hydrodenitrogenation (HDN) of Heavy Gas Oil (HGO) in Trickle-Bed Reactor.
The HDS and HDN processes in trickle-bed reactors are being carried out on Syncrude and conventional HGO samples. The objectives are to identify the specific species responsible for catalyst deactivation as well as to develop catalysts preventing this deactivation.

2. The Oxidation of Mercaptans and H2S in a Fixed-Bed Reactor Using Activated Carbon Catalysts.
The Oxidation of H2S present in natural gas and sewage gas as well as the oxidation of mercaptans present in jet fuels have been carried out successfully in a fixed-bed reactor using an activated carbon catalyst. The effects of various process parameters on the conversions of these sulphur compounds have been studied. Rate equations for the conversion processes have been established

3. Production of Alkylates from C4 Hydrocarbons Using Super Acid Catalysts.
Branched chain C4 hydrocarbons such as isobutane and isobutylene are used for many industrial applications such as alkylation and in the manufacture of reformulated gasoline. These hydrocarbons were produced via modified Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis process using an FT catalyst and a solid acid catalyst. Many solid acid catalysts (based on ZrO2 and TiO2) have been prepared, characterized and used for selective production Of C4 hydrocarbons. Also, we have been working on the development of super acid catalysts for alkylation of isobutane with 1-butene. These catalysts undergo rapid deactivation. Efforts are being made to modify these catalysts so that they remain active for long periods of time.

4. Catalytic Upgrading of Bio-Oils in Dual Reactor Systems.
The catalytic upgrading of bio-oils to hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals are being studied in a dual reactor system over zeolites. The effects of catalyst properties and the process parameters on the liquid and gaseous product distributions are being investigated.

5. Steam Gasification of Ligins and Chars.
The conversions (both catalytic and non-catalytic) of lignins, a waste product from the pulp and paper industry, and chars obtained from bio-oil conversion processes have been carried out in a fixed-bed reactor. The main reaction products are methane and hydrogen from lignin samples. The effects of various process parameters such as reaction temperature, steam/feed ratio and space velocity on the product distribution and feed conversion are being studied.

6. Hydrogen from Methanol and Ethanol.
Due to the demand in production of pure hydrogen and utilization of biomass as a source of renewable fuel, we are in the process of developing catalyst for the production of hydrogen from ethanol. We are quite successful in synthesizing catalysts for conversion of methanol to hydrogen.

7. Biodiesel production from Waste Vegetable Oils and Hydrogen Production from glycerol.
There is quite demand in finding renewable fuels from biomass. My group is quite successful in producing biodiesel from various edible and non-edible oils via transesterification of oils with alcohols. We have found that if 1% of biodiesel is added to diesel fuel, the lubricity in the diesel engines is enhanced by 20%. The glycerol, which is a major byproduct from biodiesel production facility, is being converted to hydrogen and syn gas.

8. Valued Added Products from Pyrolysis Fuel Oil.
Pyrolysis fuel oil is a major byproduct obtained during the production of olefins from gas oil. The project focuses on the extraction of aromatics and naphthalene from this fuel oil.

9. Fuel Cell Modeling.
The project focuses in modeling of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell.

10. Synthesis and applications of carbon nanotubes (CNT). chemical vapour desposition (CVD) method is being used for the CNT synthesis. these materials are being used for various catalytic processes.