The Hand That Feeds

Capital funds aid commercialization efforts in Michigan
By Bryan Sims | February 09, 2011

With funding provided by the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and Automation Alley, Detroit-based biodiesel technology developer NextCAT Inc. is closer to bringing its novel process technology to market.

According to President Charles Salley, the funds will be used for pilot-scale testing of the technology with plans to build a demo unit in an existing retrofitted facility later this year.

Developed by the National Biofuels Energy Lab at Wayne State University, NextCAT’s technology involves the use of a heterogeneous solid metal oxide catalyst capable of performing esterification and transesterification steps in a single pass without consuming the catalyst in the reaction. “It’ll handle high free fatty acid feedstocks and triglycerides in a single step without forming the soaps and other waste byproducts that are incident in current first-gen technology,” Salley says.

 NextCAT has partnered with a catalyst manufacturing firm to aid in its scale-up initiatives, but the company hopes to lock up similar partnerships with biodiesel equipment suppliers that can integrate its process technology into existing biodiesel assets, Salley says. “Since many of these facilities have been designed for refined vegetable oil, we think there’s a major opportunity to upgrade them to handle higher FFA feedstocks.”

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