Catalytically Active Polyoxometalates for Dimerization and Oligomerization of Olefins

Tech ID: 20-035

Inventors: Dr. Jason Hicks, Yoonrae Cho

Date Added: June 17, 2020


A safer and more efficient process utilizing polyoxometalate catalysts for olefin oligomerization to liquid fuels or chemicals. 

Technology Summary

Shale production has been rapidly increasing in the U.S., comprising 63% of crude oil production and growing by nearly 1.25 mb/d/yr. Shale resources typically contain high amounts of light hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, butane, etc.) but are difficult to capture and transport because of their gaseous state. Heavy hydrocarbons are easier to work with since they are in liquid form, however, the current methods of conversion face problems such as inefficient product-catalyst separation, hazardous or carcinogenic catalysts, and low reaction efficiencies. Therefore, in order to most effectively utilize the overabundance of U.S. shale resources as fuels, the current olefin oligomerization process needs to be made safer and more efficient. 

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have recently developed a modularized process to valorize light alkanes into heavy alkenes from shale resources, increasing the efficacy of shale resources as a fuel source. The process involves a novel polyoxometalate catalyst for coupling of light olefins to heavier oligomers, which can then be used as liquid fuels or as building blocks for high value chemicals. The Catalytically Active Polyoxometalates for Dimerization and Oligomerization of Olefins developed by the University of Notre Dame is a better alternative than the current light hydrocarbon conversion processes involving transition metal catalysts due to easier phase separation between products and catalysts, less hazardous materials involved, and higher reaction efficiencies. 

Market Advantages

•    No phase separation of catalysts and products needed.
•    No use of hazardous or carcinogenic catalysts.
•    Higher reaction efficiencies. 

Market Opportunities

•    Increased availability of liquid fuels without installation of infrastructure needed to support a central processing plant.  
•    New source of building blocks for other high value chemicals. 

Technology Readiness Status

TRL 2 - Technology Concept Formulated

Intellectual Property Status

Patent pending


Richard Cox