Date: Mar 01, 2011 Author: Bryan Sims Source: biodieselmagazine.com (
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Detroit-based startup biodiesel technology developer NextCAT Inc. has secured a licensing agreement to commercialize a novel catalyst technology developed at the National Biofuels Energy Laboratory at Wayne State University to be integrated in existing biodiesel plants.
According to NextCAT President Charles Salley, NextCAT intends to leverage $800,000 in total funding that came in the form of Michigan-supported pre-seed capital funds in recent months, including grants from the National Science Foundation, to bring its novel catalyst technology to market.
"We made the decision based on major funding milestones and by securing strategic partnerships over past several months," Salley told Biodiesel Magazine.
NextCAT's technology involves the use of a clean heterogeneous solid metal oxide catalyst capable of performing esterification and transesterification steps in a single pass without consuming the catalyst in the reaction, according to Salley.
"The thing that's magic about the catalyst that we have licensed is that it's duel-acting, meaning that it does transesterification and esterification steps simultaneously, which makes it particularly well-suited for moderate to high FFA feedstocks like yellow grease or residual corn oil from the ethanol production process," Salley said. "Those feedstocks aren't well-handled by first-generation homogenous catalysts as they tend to create soaps and other waste byproducts that can make the process challenging."
"Our next step with the product is to get into a pilot-scale test, which we're doing this quarter," Salley added.
According to Salley, NextCAT's novel heterogeneous catalysts offer a unique process solution for an industry that has been idled for the past year and a half.
"In order to meet all the specs, we do a little bit of polishing at the end," Salley said. "But, because the catalyst doesn't create all those salts and soaps that are typically produced from the base process, there's a whole lot less clean up required so some of those washing steps are dramatically reduced in our process."