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NCL Introduces New Biodiesel Catalyst and Process

10 November 2006

New Century Lubricants (NCL) has entered into an exclusive worldwide agreement with National Chemical Laboratory (NCL-India), a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India, to demonstrate and commercialize NCL’s new transesterification catalyst and process for the production of biodiesel fuels and biolubricants.

The new ENSEL process, according to company President William Summers, eliminates most of the existing drawbacks of conventional transesterification processes and offers a simpler, more direct process for the production of hydrocarbon fuels. The ENSEL process involves the reaction of vegetable oils or animal fats with C1– C5 alcohols at moderate conditions using a novel, solid, reusable mixed-metal catalyst (an insoluble double metal salt). The feedstock oil can be triglycerides or mixtures of fatty acids and glycerides.

We can use less expensive unrefined oils in a truly continuous process, and generate no waste water. Furthermore, our process can make biodiesel with either methanol or ethanol. ENSEL can also manufacture premium biolubricants by running the reaction with higher alcohols such as octanol.

Adding all the advantages, we expect that ENSEL will reduce the total cost of making biodiesel by 20-25% over current practices. This competitive edge will be especially welcome if the bioenergy industry experiences any turbulence due to rising feedstock prices, increased utility rates, or unexpected swings in supply and demand.

—William Summers

The ENSEL catalyst can be separated easily by centrifugation or by filtration and reused or further compounded into a solid suitable for fixed bed reactors. Conventional base catalysts incur additional expenses for catalyst separation.

The catalyst is efficient—only a small amount (1 wt% of oil) is needed to carry out the reaction, for which conditions of temperature and pressure are only moderate (25 atm, 175° C, compared to ~60 atm, 180°C–220° C for some established catlaysts). Unlike the conventional base catalysts, the NCL-India catalyst is unaffected by the presence of water or free fatty acids in oil or fat feedstock. Hence, according to NCL, there are no limitations on the quality of oil that can be used.

The ENSEL process yields a diesel oil (products conform to ATMS 6751 and EN14214), from sources such as vegetable oil or animal fat, which can be either fresh oil or used oil or mixtures. Another feature of this process is the wide choice of alcohols which have been demonstrated to be effective, including methanol, ethanol, propanol, butanol, pentanol or their mixtures. The product hydrocarbon fuels comprise fatty acid esters in the range of C9– C23.

The ENSEL technology also provides a profitable solution to the glycerin glut now faced by the biodiesel industry. The glycerin recovered from the transesterification reaction is etherified with methanol, ethanol or butanol using another proprietary heterogeneous catalyst. The end products, primarily di- and tri-ethers of glycerin, are oxygenates for diesel fuels.

New Century intends to build and to operate a 1-ton per day ENSEL pilot plant in India to evaluate different feedstocks from all over the world, to generate scale-up data and to optimize catalyst performance. The pilot plant is being engineered and designed by Unitel Technologies, and will be operated under the technical supervision of NCL-India scientists. Dr. Paul Ratnasamy, former Director of NCL-India, an expert in industrial catalysis and Government of India’s Ramanujan Scholar, has agreed to serve on the New Century Board of Directors.

New Century is actively seeking the participation of strategic partners in North America and elsewhere.

November 10, 2006 in Biodiesel, India | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

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Anytime you can reduce the purity requirements of a feedstock you shave off significant process cost. Lower pressures and simplified catalyst recycling are also good news. Perhaps the most valuable feature is the secondary process that turns glycerol into ethers that can be used as oxygenates.

Don't be surprised if emerging economies near the equator (e.g. India, Malaysia) take the lead in biodiesel technology, much as Brazil has already done for ethanol. They pay the same world market prices for their oil we do and, they have both the land and the sunshine to produce a lot of feedstock cheaply and domestically. They also have a large pool of poorly educated labor in rural areas.

Spot price for lard, tallow, and other greases are lower vs soybean oil.

In this article they have mentioned propanol, pentanol, and octanol. I know that these have long carbon chains-- therefore can anyone explain them in further detail (BTU content, etc.) and why they are not more prevalent than methanol or ethanol (outside of production costs)?

The longer chain alcohols are less reactive than methanol or ethanol in the standard base-catalysed transesterification reaction. Somehow this process overcomes that obstacle.
I would presume that BTU/L will increase with the higher M.W. alcohols. The question would be, where would we find renewable and cheap sources for these alcohols?

Why would National Chemical Laboratory partner with someone who
does not even have home page and using gmail account. Who him self is
looking for partners, seems really strange.

Vin -

details of the longer-chained alcohols are readily available on wikipedia and elsewhere. In general, the longer the molecular chain, the greater the gravimetric energy density. As a rough-and-ready rule of thumb, this is a linear function of the number of H-C bonds in a hydrocarbon molecule, divided by the molecule's total weight. Any oxygen present implies partial combustion and does not contribute to usable energy density.

Long-chained single-valued alcohols are tricky to produce because you either have a very slow reaction or, you also get higher-valued alcohols (R-COH), aldehydes (R-CHO) and organic acids (R-COOH) as by-products. By contrast, methanol and ethanol are easily produced with high yields from e.g. wood and sugars, respectively.

Anon -

http://official-energy-news.com/2006_11_01_official-energy-news_archive.html

CONTACT: Dr. William Summers of New Century Lubricants, +1-515-277-6408,
willsummers1@gmail.com

So he does have a gmail account, though that's still doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. I guess "partnering" really means NCL-India hired him as a consultant.

Maybe this is an extra account. He may not want his main account for all the world to see/spam.

Maybe this is an extra account. He may not want his main account for all the world to see/spam.

Rafael, Vin ,
Longer chains usually also mean higher gel/freezing temps.

You can see how this process overcomes the lower reactivity of higher alcohols:  it operates at 175°C!

In a proper press release, the president of a company is never the contact.
always has proper email address. and also contact info of its partner.
This guy sounds like some professor starting his own company because
he saw this in India. If you look at the client list of NCL-India,
http://www.ncl-india.org/achievements/clients.jsp?id=1&se=cl&mid=6, you can
see that they can do better than this guy.

It sounds like "anon" has a personal problem with Summers, or some sort of professional rivalry. Those posts are inappropriate in this forum.

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