Described is a method to make linear alpha olefins. The method includes the steps of contacting a feedstock having a lactone and/or an unsaturated carboxylic acid with a solid acid catalyst having acidic catalytic sites including Lewis acid catalytic sites, for a time and a temperature wherein at least a fraction of the lactone and/or unsaturated carboxylic acid present in the feedstock is converted into a linear alpha olefin. The method may optionally take place in the presence of water. The solid acid catalyst should preferably have at least 50% Lewis acid catalytic sites.
FEDERAL FUNDING STATEMENT
 This invention was made with government support under DE-FCO2-07ER64494 awarded by the US Department of Energy and 0813570 awarded by the National Science Foundation. The government has certain rights in the invention.