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July 07, 2007


Mark C R UK

I've seen Victor and co-workers cat's up close and read all the papers on the development of this new bifunctional catalyst. (I've seen some of his PhD and post docs presenting their work on this).

Very elegant - classic Green Chemistry.

Good luck and best wishes to Victor and co.

If the technology is as elegant as their design then this is a very hopeful development!!


I do believe you mean sodium methoxide, not "methodist".


If you take a methodist and add strong caustic, you get a methodist in a highly excited state, also known as "sodium methodist." This excited methodist can catalyze the occurance of all sorts of unlikely events.


Continuing on "sodium methodist" - Sodum methodist has applications on both the physical and metaphysical planes. Most uses involve conversions of one type or other, including the well-known "collection plate transition." Related materials such as sodium baptist, sodium catholic, and sodium lutheran have quite similar properties; however, current evidence indicates that sodium aetheist does not fuction at all in the same way, due the absence of the necessary reactive site.


Don't forget "sodium jehovah's witness". A very reactive compound sometimes found to prevent doors from closing, some scientists believe it to be the most aggressive on collection plate transitioning.

And then there's the disputed "sodium vegetarianism". There is considerable debate among scientists as to whether or not this chemical belongs to the same group as the previously mentioned sodium chemistries. Although metaphysically inert, the way it reacts with vegetables has given cause to wild speculation in the academic world.

All scientists agree on the importance of this novel branch of chemistry.


My understanding is that the greatest cost of biodiesel is the cost of the feedstock - esp if using virgin oil. A new process isn't going to change that one bit - I gather that what they have done is to reduce the processing costs, so I wouldn't expect much of a difference in the retail price of commercial biodiesel with this process.


The only non-subsidized way to lower the retail price enough is to increase the feedstock supply significantly.

That means algae, which isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Mark C R UK

This is not about reducing the cost of biodiesel specifically.

Other than it allows much lower quality oils (UCO) to be processed since the problem of soaps - forming from the reaction of FFA is eliminated (without acid pretreatment).

It eliminates the requirement for time/energy consuming separation and washing stages.

Additionally, this SUPPORTED REAGENT can be reused multiple times.

This is a far from comprehensive list.

In other words it will affect all of the major "Green Chemistry Metrics" - or measures of the environmental/economic parameters of biodiesel processing.

I've seen one of Victor's post-grads presenting some of this work (Jeniffer is now the project manager incidentally!).

It was very informative, and this work has been at least 4 years in the making.

This has parallel links with SUS-CHEM and the use of renewable resources/green chemistry/clean tech development.

I predict this is a major milestone in the whole area.

Well done to Victor and his group!


I believe that eric is correct - about 70% of the cost of biodiesel is the cost of the oil feedstock (soy, palm, animal fat, etc.). The manufacturing cost of biodiesel is essentially break even or worse without the $1.00/gallon government subsidy. Even if a third of the remaining manufacturing costs were reduced (a real breakthrough), this does not make biodiesel economically attractive without the subsidy. Profits (if any) without the subsidy would probably be insufficient to do debt service on the plant construction loan. This is particularly true when you consider that soy oil costs have increased 50% in the last year. Also not discussed is the cost of the catalyst, which is often very high in these types of processes and only partially offset by increased lifetime. My thought is that this is good work by Victor, Jenny et al, but it early to claim this as a major breakthrough on the feasibilty of unsubsidized biodiesel production given the current price of feedstocks.

Mark C R UK

As a break through - I refer to it as the use of supported reusable reagents - that enable lower quality feeds to be used...

I take all the points on feeds you mention on board. Its unlikely any technology in the case of biodiesel short of using micro-organism derived lipids will break through the threshold price you imply. Since there is some coupling to the oil price...

This development is really a first since its undoutably the first biphasic (acid-base) solid catalyst to be used in this process... eliminating the stages I mentioned previously (always a plus environmentally) as well as enabling simpler work-up and recovery of unused material....

If this work can be extended to allow even further lifetime and cat-regeneration then this coupled with the fast reaction kinetics mean that continuous-flow reactors based on these are potentially viable.


Mark C R - I appreciate your comments, and hope the technology scales up and meets economic hurdles. I suspect there may be other applications for the technology as well. The key here will be the business team that Catlin puts together to help Victor make this a commercial success.

Mark C R UK


The food v fuel debate - as well as many of the other biofuels critics points are all MARKET and ECONOMIC arguments, not technical arguments. i.e. use of high quality food oils rather than lower quality oils for instance that have already left the food chain...

Then there are numerous arguments I have against corn ethanol - which I don't have time for here.

But note I am a big supporter of cellulosic derived biofuels and marginal land, and microbial (algae, prokaryotic organism) derived feeds.

Jury out on BTL technologies - any new generation of Fisher-Tropsch cats and associated technologies are welcome provided their primary energy requirement is down on current 60%. (*thereby improve energy balance*)

Victors work is about utilisation of waste streams (UCO) it would appear amongst other things. (something I'm involved in in seperately also).

This waste would otherwise be landfilled, incinerated or whatever. Instead Victor's approach adds-value to waste/byproduct streams, which via the carbon cycle is indirectly fed back into the food chain and the UCO feed for fuel again, in a life-cycle approach...

Plus the glycerol byproduct is a potentially valuable replacement as a C3 feedstock (rather than propylene). I've done work in this personally, but numerous projects are looking to add value to Glycerol. The EU's FP7 programe has substantial funding for SUSTAINABLE CHEMISTRY technology development. SEE SUS-CHEM

Major issue is the tankering of the UCO etc. But for this we are doing what we can with the limitations of the technology. Automative technology (like Jim's approach in this blog has as much to play here) in terms of MPG and efficiency gains...

It's certainly better than using 100% mineral diesel - that would have been locked up in the Earth's crust otherwise, and helps "string" out existing petrochem diesel supplies when blended.........

Anyway must go - Gas Chromatograph is calling....

Potassium Chloride

Nice information provided here which is very useful to everyone...I am not a huge fan of this side, there do seem to be a lot these days...thanks for posting...Let me know more about this one

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