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UPDATED: New Solid Catalysts Come to Market
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UPDATE: I reached out to the company making this catalyst to see of they were still on track for a November release. They advised that they would need more info about my plant, and it would not be economical unless its capacity is at least 10Mgpy!

This was a surprise, because when I reached out in September I was very specific that I was talking about a hypothetical small brewer of 100,000 gpy. I wrote back to point out this discrepancy, but have not received any further responses yet.

Bottom line is that it looks like those of us producing 30,000 gallons per day of BioDiesel will have to try it out for the rest of us. Who's gonna go first? Wink

What follows is the original post...

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I haven't seen much discussion on this board about some new solid catalyst based technologies that are now commerically available.

Benefuel sells licenses a propriatary system that claims it will output 98% technical grade glycerin.

I suspect more interesting to members of this forum will be the T300 solid catalyst by Catlin. It's apparently a trivial retrofit for existing processors, and cost-competitive with NaOH.

quote:

“Our solid catalyst makes it so much easier,” says Larry Lenhart, Catilin CEO. “It’s safe and nontoxic, and it requires less expense to run. You don’t need to do the mixtures with acids and pH balance, and you can eliminate water washing.” With fewer steps, potentially 30 percent of the equipment in a standard biodiesel plant can be eliminated, he adds.

Sams describes the T300 as a “drop-in catalyst” that can be used as a direct replacement for the commonly used sodium methoxide catalysts. “We don’t need a fixed bed because we mix in the granular powder directly with the oil,” he says. The heterogeneous catalyst remains solid, and performs much the same way as the familiar homogeneous catalysts that are liquids in solution. The catalytic activity is similar to sodium methoxide, with a residence time of 40 to 60 minutes.

The biggest difference is in catalyst removal once reaction is complete. “Typically in a plant, they splash water on the biodiesel to wash out the sodium catalyst so the biodiesel is clean,” Sams explains. “Because we have a solid catalyst, we don’t need to do that. We use a sophisticated filter to keep the catalyst in the reactor and let the products leave the reactor without any of the catalyst in it. That means people can use a dry wash, which is more economical.”

The retrofit to use the T300 solid catalyst involves the addition of a hopper and injection system to introduce the catalyst, and a filter to separate the catalyst from the biodiesel and glycerin products. Both components already exist and are off-the-shelf technologies. “The big designers have historically recommended water wash systems,” Sams tells Biodiesel Magazine. “They’ve had to use water wash because the sodium methoxide they’ve used as the catalyst has to be removed down to 5 parts per million or less in the biodiesel and the water wash does a very good job of that. Those systems are typically expensive to operate because they require a big distillation column. There’s a lot of energy required and if you get in places where water is in tight supply, it becomes a real problem,” he says.

The T300 catalyst is nontoxic, has a long life and can be easily disposed when it is spent, Sams adds. He estimates the cost of retrofitting a 30 MMgy plant to switch to the Catilin catalyst would range between $300,000 and $600,000, depending on plant configuration. Initial discussions with potential customers are showing a payback period for the capital investment of about 12 months. The T300 catalyst itself is priced competitively with sodium methoxide.


I wonder how much this stuff really costs to implement on a typical GL-1 style reactor?

Thoughts?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: FuriousGeorge,
 
Registered: March 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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They have some contact info on their website.

http://www.catilin.com/t300.html

One quote from their site:
quote:
* Recyclable in excess of 20 times
Which indicates to me that it is consumed in relatively few batches.

Anyway, it wouldn't hurt to try to contact them. Some companies will give away samples, or otherwise try to work with the "little guys". Other companies try to brush them off.
 
Location: Oregon | Registered: October 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'll give them a try tomorrow and report back for the greater good Wink
 
Registered: March 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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FG
-Ok, now you have my attention Big Grin where is this chit available from and how much, and how do I get the 150,000 to modify my plant WinkTom


" I don't know what I don't know until I know"
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Location: Manitoba Canada | Registered: March 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Biotom:
FG
-Ok, now you have my attention Big Grin where is this chit available from and how much, and how do I get the 150,000 to modify my plant WinkTom

They do their testing in the pilot plant at the BECON centre at the Iowa State University. Anyone who has been on the biodiesel workshop run by Jon van Gerpen there may recognise some of the photos on the Catilin website.
 
Location: East Yorkshire | Registered: January 14, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Biotom:
FG
-Ok, now you have my attention Big Grin where is this chit available from and how much, and how do I get the 150,000 to modify my plant WinkTom


I guess step one would be to know someone, and step two would be to produce 100,000 gal of BD per day resting only on Sundays and federal holidays. I believe that $150,000 figure was to upgrade their existing 30,000,000 GPY plant from batch to continuous flow.

When calling them you get the following options: Names Directory and Message in General Mailbox. I went with the former and heard an extension called "Catalyst Info" and left a message there. I also sent them an e-mail.

I'll let everyone know when and if they get back to me.
 
Registered: March 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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FG
-thanks, my tounge is still in my cheek Big Grin guess I will have to pay my own way. I am still interested in this catylist, it was first mentioned here about 3 months ago by Graydon if I remember correctly, and this is the first post on this subject since. Tom


" I don't know what I don't know until I know"
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Location: Manitoba Canada | Registered: March 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I already had some email correspondence with them and they are only interested in big buyers right now. 1 ton supersacks are the catalyst quantity mentioned on their site flow diagrams. They would not supply samples or sell to small players. They say this should change at some unspecified point in the future.

The exact usefulness of the product is still a bit vague because some critical basic facts are missing. One is the price per kilo! The other is the catalyst loading versus residency time per liter of bio per batch. Exact lifespan, I am not sure they know how long it lasts, it may be a lot longer than the 20 times they are sure of, or that may be the limit they can rely on. They refuse to give this information out and somewhat strangely consider it propitiatory confidential data rather than basic properties you need to know to make an informed buying decision or to assess it's potential usefulness.

The reaction will not go to completion unless the byproduct is removed part way through and then reaction resumed. They suggest a two tank stirred reactor system with the catalyst floating free in the tanks to achieve this. Other methods could be used. If the residency time/loading/price ratio were not too long/large/costly this catalyst could be ideal in a continuous reaction system with electrostatic byproduct removal to drive the reaction to completion. I would try a fixed tube pumped reactor configuration first myself.

Promising to the point of being exciting but I am struck by the refusal to answer those basic questions. Makes me guess at a high price per kilo and a large loading factor to achieve a reasonable residency time. Otherwise why hide it? A good ratio would be boasted about as a selling point. Before they realized I was too small to be interesting they wanted me to sign non disclosure contracts etc before telling me the data I wanted. I would have, but that didn't happen so no harm talking here on what little I do know.

It may be that this catalyst is very cost effective over its lifetime but as it is reusable indefinitely it could still be very expensive initially to buy a loading high enough to achieve quick conversion. Just a guess but a logical one.

It does have real plus points though. The nanospheres it is made from contain both acid and base sites ie it is a heterogeneous catalyst that estrifies and transestrifies at the same time. So complete conversion of oil and ffa. No soap production at all; it is solid and cannot combine to form soaps. It operates at what we consider to be standard temps and pressures which is a big plus over some other competing catalysts.

If it ever becomes available at our scale of operations I would be very interested in testing it out. Assuming it can be cost and time effective in real terms.


mathematical elegance -- desired result achieved with minimal complication
 
Location: Manchester UK | Registered: June 03, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ant
-thanks for the up to date info, very interesting. Tom


" I don't know what I don't know until I know"
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Location: Manitoba Canada | Registered: March 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here's what they've told me:

quote:

We are working on the installation of our solid T300 catalyst in a large commercial plant. Later this year, when the plant is running, we plan to make the catalyst widely available and it can be economical in a small WVAO plant. Can you check back with me in Nov? The cost is comparable to sodium methoxide and you will have enhanced profitability due to reduced capital and operating expenses as well as higher valued glycerin.


Nothing really to see here.

EDIT: I don't understand why they compare the price to sodium methoxide. Shouldn't they compare it apples to apples with NaOH and KOH? Does this mean that it costs the same as the catalyst and the meth, but you still have to get the meth?

One exciting thing about this company is that they are using nanotech to harvest "green oil" from algae without killing it (so you don't need to grow more and it doesn't release all these nasty chemicals that algae release when they die). It's too expensive per gallon right now, but it answers the age-old question: "How do you milk an alga, Focker?"
 
Registered: March 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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They could be talking about anhydrous crystalline Sodium Methoxide/Sodium Methylate.
Running somewhere around $10 to $50/Kilo.

As noted above, they indicate that their catalyst is consumed at a rate of 20 batches usage (or approximately 5% / batch.

It sounds to me as if the processing is much more complex than using NaOH.

I guess it just amazes me how these companies try to avoid working with the "little people".

Not realizing, of course, how interconnected the small producers are. And, how one sale could lead to 100 sales... And, suddenly that one "little person" looks like a "little giant".
 
Location: Oregon | Registered: October 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by keelec:
They could be talking about anhydrous crystalline Sodium Methoxide/Sodium Methylate.
Running somewhere around $10 to $50/Kilo.

As noted above, they indicate that their catalyst is consumed at a rate of 20 batches usage (or approximately 5% / batch.

It sounds to me as if the processing is much more complex than using NaOH.

I guess it just amazes me how these companies try to avoid working with the "little people".

Not realizing, of course, how interconnected the small producers are. And, how one sale could lead to 100 sales... And, suddenly that one "little person" looks like a "little giant".

As they are dealing with commercial proessors and not homebrewers using NaOH. It is likely that their statement about the price being comparable to sodium methoxide is a direct comparison to the commercially available 25 to 32% sodium methylate solutions that are used by the same commercial processing plants.

The easiest way for prospective customers to evaluate the thing is to be able to compare apples for apples as FuriousGeorge mentions and actually this is what they are doing. They are aiming at the large user at present not the small guy.

Regarding their "avoiding the small guy" at this stage I can understand them dealing with large commercial organisations. At the end of the day they are probably working with a plant that has some capital behind it (and is likely paying them a reasonable amount for this product) as well as some design and engineering input and the ability to test what they are doing before they push this product too much on the open market. The other reason I can see is that when you deal with one or maybe only a few large processing companies, you only have one or two points of contact and you typically deal at similar levels, ie engineer to engineer, salesman to buyer etc. The problem when you try to sell an unproven product to the small guy is that you have to spend a fortune in time and therfore money dealing with all of the enquiries that come in for what could be only a few dollars worth of income. Typically less than the time taken answering all of the questions.
 
Location: East Yorkshire | Registered: January 14, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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I can't begrudge them for the business plan. Unlike many emerging technologies, this one has some thing to offer the little guy, at least according to their sales rep.

It seems like they are still gathering data, which we will all be clamoring for before we buy any of this stuff anyway.
 
Registered: March 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Biotom, you do remember the Dr. Van Gerpen name don't you.. think AE..same guy I think

If he was offering a class I would seriously think about taking it..

I would love to pick his brain during and after class...


I would like to know more about this T300 calaysist...and why just the comparasion to sodium methylate? most homebrewers don't use this..maybe it it just geared to commerical!!too bad..there is a large market of homebrewers..

-dkenny


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Location: RTP, North Carolina | Registered: December 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dave
-yes from ISU. I agree he,s the guy to talk to. why don't you email him, see if he is interested swaping emails I tried to get Dr Newkirk to log on , but haven't heard back. He does spend a lot of time on the road. I'll try to contact him again when the winter rolls in, won't be long Eek Tom


" I don't know what I don't know until I know"
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Location: Manitoba Canada | Registered: March 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by dkenny:
Biotom, you do remember the Dr. Van Gerpen name don't you.. think AE..same guy I think

If he was offering a class I would seriously think about taking it..

I would love to pick his brain during and after class...

Jon has been running a biodiesel workshop twice per year for the last few years, not sure if they still are but one was in Idaho and the other was at the same plant where the catalyst we are discussing has been "researched". I don't think Jon van Gerpen has anything to do with Catalin as a company though,he is still a professor at Idaho university I beleive.

quote:
I would like to know more about this T300 calaysist...and why just the comparasion to sodium methylate? most homebrewers don't use this..maybe it it just geared to commerical!!too bad..there is a large market of homebrewers..

-dkenny
I agree there is a potentially big homebrew market but the commercial one is much much bigger and commercial companies typically use sodium methylate rather than NaOH. Once they have it developed and working OK at a bigger scale then they are likely to bring it to the general market but I doubt that will happen until they have made some money from commercial customers.
 
Location: East Yorkshire | Registered: January 14, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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i took the ISU course a couple of years ago, and it was excellent - everything you wanted to know about biodiesel and a whole lot more. Jon van Gerpen is a bit of a biodiesel guru..he's been involved in this stuff for quite some time, and i believe advises the US govt on biodiesel matters.

I remember that they advocated sodium methalate over sodium methoxide for several reasons. It tends to reduce soap formation, and removes the need to mix the lye and methanol yourself...altho the reaction still requires adding methanol.I have never looked into the availability and price versus methoxide.

cheers

richard
 
Registered: June 28, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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it'll be interesting to see if this moves forward, we've had solid re-usable catalysts popping up now and then over the years and they all sound great and I've even chased up some myself,
http://biodiesel.infopop.cc/ev...=252109616#252109616
but we are still using NaOH/KOH due to it being cheapest.


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Location: S.E. England | Registered: September 05, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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I have found that solid base catalyst (transesterification) don't perform nearly as well as the traditional catalysts mentioned above.

To clarify one point, methylate is prefered to methoxide because the byproduct of methylate reacting with FFA is methanol, whereas the byproduct of methoxide reacting with FFA is water. That water can then react to form more FFA and/or soap.

Back to catalysts.

There are some solid acid catalysts (esterification) that are in the R&D stages that seem to be cost competitive with Sulfuric Acid, especially when you consider the disposal associated with the acid/water/methanol product.

I can't give out details, the products are still in the R&D phases and we actually had to sign a pretty extensive non-disclosure to receive early samples.
 
Location: CO, CA, KS, or FL | Registered: January 17, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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bump

See update in OP
 
Registered: March 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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