Flora Ng

Professor, Chemical Engineering

Research interests: nanocatalysts; bitumen upgrading; biodiesel production; catalytic distillation


Professor Flora Ng is a leading expert on catalytic distillation, a green reactor technology where reaction and separation occurs in the same reactor resulting in a higher energy efficiency and also higher conversion and selectivity to the desired products.

Ng works at the forefront of research into catalytic distillation with particular focus on the development of novel catalysts and innovative processes for the processing of hydrocarbons. Ng and her team are developing green energy processes, including a process to create biodiesels from waste oils.

Ng joined the University of Waterloo in April, 1987. In collaboration with BP Chemicals, U.K., she has contributed to the successful commercialization of a new process "Avada", for the production of ethyl acetate via a direct reaction of ethylene with acetic acid using a solid acid catalyst. The Avada process won an Astra Zeneca Award for the Best Green Chemistry and Engineering Process from the U.K. Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2002. In 2007, Ng became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 2008, she won the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Catalysis Award. In 2008, Ng was awarded the University of Waterloo’s highest academic honour, University Professor, becoming only the third engineering professor and the second woman campus-wide to receive the award.


  • PhD, University of British Columbia

  • MSc, University of British Columbia

  • BSc, University of Hong Kong

Flora Ng


Upgrading the bitumen to lighter oils for further processing

Oilsands bitumen is a complex mixture of various hydrocarbons, some of which have very high molecular weights and contain heteroatoms such as sulfur and nitrogen and metals. Conventional supported catalysts are readily deactivated by the bitumen. Professor Ng found that nanocatalysts are very effective for upgrading the bitumen to lighter oils which can be subsequently processed to produce transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel. Her research also shows that nanocatalysts can be used to provide hydrogen from the water often associated with the recovery of bitumen from the oilsands via the water gas shift reaction.

Clean transportation fuels

Professor Ng’s research on the development of nanocatalysts for the purpose of upgrading requires both fundamental and applied research. Spectroscopic techniques such as Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Raman, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform (DRIFT) are used to characterize these nanocatalysts. Professor Ng is working toward a new goal: to develop a ‘greener’ process for upgrading the oilsands bitumen to produce clean transportation fuels. To fulfill this goal, she is working to establish a structure and activity relationship of these nanocatalysts.

Biodiesel production from low grade sources

Professor Ng is developing new solid catalysts, including nanocatalysts, for the production of biodiesel from low grade oil feedstocks, such as waste cooking oil and animal fats. Professor Ng is also interested in developing selective sorbents for the removal of sulfur and nitrogen containing compounds in diesel fuel to produce ultra-clean diesel.

Research interests

  • Nanocatalysts

  • Bitumen upgrading

  • Biodiesel production

  • Catalytic distillation

  • Selective adsorption

  • Solid acid/base catalysts


Recent publications include:

  • Gaurav, Aashish; Leite, Mateus Lenz; Ng, Flora T. T.; Rempel, Garry L., “Transesterification of Triglyceride to Fatty Acid Alkyl Esters (Biodiesel): Comparison of Utility Requirements and Capital Costs between Reaction Separation and Catalytic Distillation Configurations”, Energy & Fuels, 27(11), pp6847-6857 (2013)
  • Liu, Kun; Jia, Lei; Ng, Flora T. T., “Hydrodenitrogenation of carbazole over dispersed Mo sulfide catalyst using in situ H-2”, Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 245 (7 April 2013)
  • Ng, Flora T. T.; Sarkar, Amitava; Xu, Yongqiang; Rempel, Garry L., “Production of green fuel via catalytic distillation”,Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 245 (7 April 2013)
  • Pasupulety, Nagaraju; Gunda, Kamalakar; Liu, Yuanqing; Rempel, Garry L.; Ng, Flora T. T., “Production of biodiesel from soybean oil on CaO/Al2O3 solid base catalysts”, Applied Catalysis A – General, 452, pp189-202 (2013)
  • Baig, Aijaz; Paszti, Michael; Ng, Flora T. T., “A simple and green analytical method for acid number analysis of biodiesel and biodiesel blends based on potentiometric technique”, Fuel, 104, pp426-432 (2013)
  • Zhang, Suojiang; Ng, Flora T.T.; Rogers, Robin D., “Applications of Ionic Liquids in Green Catalytic Processes Preface”, Catalysis Today, 200, pp1 (2013)
  • Jia, Lei; Gong, Sunyoung; Dong, Lu; Rempel, Garry L.; Ng, Flora T. T., “Asphaltenes conversion with in situ H-2”,Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 244 (19 August 2012)
  • Ng, Flora; Moll, Jennifer, “Hydrogen production from bitumen emulsion for desulfurization and upgrading”,Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 244 (19 August 2012)
  • Kongparakul, Suwadee; Ng, Flora T. T.; Rempel, Garry L., “Green Process for Natural Rubber Latex Hydrogenation via Metathesis”, Topics in Catalysis, 55(7-10), pp524-529 (2012)
  • Kongparakul, Suwadee; Ng, Flora T. T.; Rempel, Garry L., “Metathesis hydrogenation of natural rubber latex”, Applied Catalysis A – General, 405(1-2), pp129-136 (2011)
  • Baig, Aijaz; Rempel, Garry L.; Ng, Flora T. T., “Novel green process for the production of biodiesel from multi-feedstocks”, Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 242 (28 August 2011)
  • Jia, Lei; Al-Ghamdi, Abdulaziz E.; Ng, Flora T. T., “Light gas oil upgrading over nano-dispersed molybdenum sulfide based catalysts through water gas shift reaction”, Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 242 (28 August 2011)
  • Ng, Flora T. T., “Selective adsorption to clean diesel: Heat of adsorption via liquid phase flow calorimetry”, Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 242 (28 August 2011)
  • Baig, Aijaz; Ng, Flora T. T., “Determination of Acid Number of Biodiesel and Biodiesel Blends”, Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society, 88(2), pp243-253 (2011)
  • Jiang, Jianzhun; Ng, Flora T. T., “Production of low sulfur diesel fuel via adsorption: an equilibrium and kinetic study on the adsorption of dibenzothiophene onto NaY zeolite”,Adsorption – Journal of the International Adsorption Society, 16(6), pp.549-558 (2010)
  • Baig, Aijaz; Ng, Flora T. T., “A Single-Step Solid Acid-Catalyzed Process for the Production of Biodiesel from High Free Fatty Acid Feedstocks”, Energy & Fuels, 24, pp4712-4720 (2010)
  • O'Keefe, William K.; Ng, Flora T. T.; Rempel, Garry L., “Kinetics of the Syntheses of Mesityl Oxide (MO) and Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK) in a Fixed-Bed Flow Reactor (FBR)”,Topics in Catalysis, 53(15-18), pp1104-1109 (2010)
  • Thomas, J. Keir; Gunda, Kamalakar; Rehbein, Peter; Ng, Flora T. T., “Flow calorimetry and adsorption study of dibenzothiophene, quinoline and naphthalene over modified Y zeolites”, Applied Catalysis B – Environmental, 94(3-4), pp225-233 (2010)
  • Liu, Kun; Ng, Flora T. T., “Effect of the nitrogen heterocyclic compounds on hydrodesulfurization using in situ hydrogen and a dispersed Mo catalyst”, Catalysis Today, 149(1-2), pp28-34 (2010)
  • Dechaine, Greg P.; Ng, Flora T. T., “A New Coated Catalyst for the Production of Diacetone Alcohol via Catalytic Distillation”, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 47(23), pp9304-9313 (2008)
  • O'Keefe, W. K.; Ng, F. T. T.; Rempel, G. L., “Validation of a gas chromatography/thermal conductivity detection method for the determination of the water content of oxygenated solvents”, Journal of Chromatography A, 1182(1), pp113-118 (2008)