Benefuel, Inc., announced on October 10 that it will build the world's first industrial-scale biodiesel refinery using a solid catalyst that converts low-grade fats and vegetable oils into biodiesel. The 10-million gallon a year plant, planned to be located in Seymour, Ind., eliminates the need for water in the refining process and produces a market-ready glycerin by-product.
Benefuel’s key technology innovation – the perfection of a solid catalyst, fixed bed reactor refining process – revolutionizes biodiesel production by eliminating demand for water, expanding the range of oil feedstock options and increasing the value of glycerin byproducts.
Advantages of the process include:
- Processing the broadest range of feedstocks with no pre-processing (up to 100% FFA’s).
- Eliminate the need for water washing or dry washing, as there is no caustic liquid catalyst to remove.
- Create an exceptionally high purity glycerin (98%+) resulting in significant economic benefits.
- Enables a continuous flow fuel-processing model that is not possible in traditional stirred tank reactors.
- Modular, portable and rapidly deployable
- Eliminate the possibility of out of specification fuel with an in-line, continuous automated quality monitoring system connected through Internet technologies, cutting labor costs and eliminating down time.
Benefuel's proprietary catalytic technology uses no water, by eliminating the need for washing biodiesel in the refining process, and expands the range of viable feedstock options to include high FFA animal fats, crude vegetable oils and waste oils, thus reducing the environmental footprint of biodiesel production and ensuring consistent access to feedstock across developing markets.
The catalyst, developed in collaboration with leading chemical engineers from India's prestigious National Chemical Laboratory, can turn virtually any vegetable oil or high free fatty acid (FFA) animal fat directly into biodiesel without the need for costly pre-processing. The catalyst, allows the operators of the new Seymour plant will realize significant production savings through the purchase of the lowest-cost feedstock and the glycerin by-product will have an initial purity of more than 98%, making it market-ready for use in other application.
"This is a great leap forward for the entire biodiesel industry, and an exciting development for Indiana's farmers and transportation companies," said Rob Tripp, CEO of Benefuel, Inc. "Biodiesel refiners have been looking for a breakthrough that reduces feedstock costs, addresses waste glycerin disposal, eliminates caustics in the processing stream and reduces the environmental impact typically associated with producing biodiesel. The economic benefits of a solid catalyst refinery far exceed those of conventional refineries, dramatically increasing operating margins to create a major shift in how the world produces biodiesel."
"The flexibility and simplicity of the Benefuel refinery will allow us to process a much broader range of feedstock in a much more profitable and environmentally friendly way. The valuable glycerin commodity and use of local feedstock will make this plant a model for distributed fuel production. This brings our energy supply back home," said James Galyen, a partner in Seymour Biofuels LLC.
The plant is expected to begin production in late 2008.
By eliminating the need for water, having the ability to process a wide variety of feedstocks and having lower costs, this process could make biodiesel a much more competitive commodity and make it a more significant liquid fuel.