Enzyme-loaded ion exchange resins emerge

By Nicholas Zeman | January 19, 2010
Posted February 17, 2010

The biodiesel industry has been looking for ways to replace traditional conversion methods, said Purolite, the resin manufacturer headquartered in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. The company has announced a deal with start-up technology firm Transbiodiesel to manufacture and market enzyme-loaded ion exchange resins meant to replace the use of sodium methylate and provide "the simultaneous esterification of free fatty acids and transesterification of fats and oils."

The system improves conversion economics in several ways-the absence of emulsifying soaps makes the fuel easy to separate from the glycerin, and low-grade oil feedstocks with FFA content as high as 100 percent can be processed, Transbiodiesel said.

"At present, chemical catalysts are used in the production of biodiesel. These catalysts have significant environmental and operational drawbacks with substantial impact on cost-effectiveness," stated Shfar-Am, Israel-based Transbiodiesel. "Use of enzyme-based catalysts eliminate these drawbacks."

At this point, Transbiodiesel has implemented its technology at Zohar Dahlia, an Israeli producer of detergents, which will make biodiesel and use the high-quality glycerin coproduct as a component in its liquid soaps.

"Our collaboration with Purolite has been going on for over a year now," said Sobhi Basheer, founder of Transbiodiesel. "After a few months of local testing at small plants, the [technology] will be ready for the conventional market."
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