STTR Phase II: Ultra-High Efficiency Biodiesel Manufacturing
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). This Small Business Technology Transfer Phase II project will change the paradigm that two-phase chemical reactions must use mechanical mixing to be commercially effective. The innovative Fiber Reactor (TM) offers two orders of magnitude change in efficiency for chemical and biochemical manufacturing. This project will focus on biodiesel transesterification reactions. Biodiesel plants convert fats/oils to biodiesel with multiple reactor stages and centrifuge stages. Complexity is due to poor mass transfer, poor reaction conversion, and poor phase separations due to by-product soap. Improving mass transfer and eliminating soap dispersions will reduce the cost of manufacturing biodiesel. In Phase I experiments, the Fiber Reactor was 3-100 times faster than commercial biodiesel processes with superior conversion. Advanced Materials and Processes has found an unconventional way to improve mass transfer and simultaneously solve phase separation problems in biodiesel processes. Use of a Fiber Reactor will reduce complexity, size, capital, energy consumption, and water pollution by dramatically improving mass transfer and eliminating dispersions. Phase I proved feasibility of energy savings and process intensification in biodiesel manufacturing. Phase II will use Phase I models and CHEMCAD models to design and operate a pilot reactor using the high throughput continuous
static Fiber Reactor and wash processes. Biodiesel capacity could increase 10 times by 2015 and improve U.S. energy security. Two hurdles remain - produce the triglyceride needed and match petroleum economics. A new industry and networks are being developed to supply enough algae oil. Fiber Reactors will reduce capital and operating cost for producing biodiesel by 50% and use low cost crude oils/fats. Phase I developed basic transesterification chemistry for Fiber Reactors. Phase II will develop chemistry/engineering data for scale up. Fiber technology will apply to pharmaceutical and specialty chemical manufacturing with similar benefits. This project will integrate research and education by training students in organic chemistry, fibers, materials, processes, pilot operations, fractionation, analysis, organic synthesis, and quality control. Students use wet chemistry, GPC, HPLC and LC/MS for identification/quantification of raw materials and reaction products. Texas State University graduated 46 chemistry/biochemistry majors in 2008. Enrollment in 2009 included 329 chemistry/biochemistry majors. The 37 graduate students were 35% minority and 48% women. IEIS has provided research assistantships/employment to over 100 students of whom 62% were women or minorities. This project will have a positive impact on the research capabilities of academic departments and IEIS; and help women and minorities to improve their training in industrial chemistry.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Research Institution Information:
Advanced Materials and Processes
104 Inwood Drive San Marcos, TX 78666
Number of Employees:
Texas State University- San Marcos
601 University Dr.
San Marcos,, TX 78666 5940
Nonprofit college or university