Detroit-based NextCAT Inc. said Tuesday that it has received a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant the National Science Foundation.The will be matched by a $25,000 grant from the State of Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund.
The grant aims to commercialize a biodiesel catalyst technology developed at the National Biofuels Energy Lab at Wayne State University that will allow biodiesel producers to use cheaper raw materials in production.
The United States has roughly 176 biodiesel plants, but 80 percent of them are sitting idle because of high raw material costs. Many of the estimated 23,000 jobs in this industry will remain in jeopardy unless producers can install new process technology to process available lower cost feedstocks.
“This is an important milestone for us,” said Charles Salley, CEO of NextCAT Inc. “We are currently commercializing another high-performance catalyst that we are preparing to put into pilot scale testing in the next 90 days. The support of the NSF of the research for our next catalyst is important to our mission of enabling the next generation of biodiesel production.”
The NextCAT technology funded by the grant will allow producers to use feedstocks that cost as little as 10 cents per pound.
“Feedstocks such as brown grease have very high levels of free fatty acids and cannot be economically processed with current technology,” said Steven Salley, COO of NextCAT, associate professor of chemical engineering at Wayne State’s College of Engineering and the technology’s co-inventor. “Our technology will help enable many biodiesel producers to process these inexpensive feedstocks cost-effectively. My colleagues Dr. Simon Ng, Dr. Manhoe Kim, Dr. Shuli Yan and I have put a lot of effort into the preliminary research that went into this technology and we are all very pleased that the funding from both the National Science Foundation and the Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund will allow us to accelerate our research and get this technology out to the biodiesel producers that really need it.”
NextCAT is a startup company located at TechTown, the Wayne State University research and technology park in Detroit. It was founded in 2009 by inventors Ng, Kim, Yan and CEO Charles Salley. NextCAT offers a class of heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel production that allow biodiesel producers to use less refined and less expensive feedstocks in their production process.
Source: WWJ Newsradio 950