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Synthesis of High Oleate Blends and Lactate from Waste and Surplus Vegetable Oils
Phone: (213) 422-3645
Phone: (626) 590-9432
Executive Summary. This project will develop an economical process to convert vegetable oil waste and surplus to lactate salts and oleate-enriched fatty acid blends. The former is an emerging class of antimicrobial agents that is displacing chlorine, bleach, and ammonia from our food supply. The latter are used in biofuels and personal care products. We use a proprietary catalyst that selectively converts poly(unsaturated) crude vegetable oils to lactates and oleates with excellent yield. EPA sponsorship will help us develop a manufacturing process for this reaction.Technology Need. Waste and surplus oils that we will use are currently converted to low-value biofuels. Instead, we will make two products: lactate and oleate. Both address weakness in the biodiesel market and safety needs in the food and personal care industries. For biodiesel’s material flow, we make high-value lactates instead of glycerol waste, creating 10X more value than in the biofuel itself, while improving biodiesel’s low-temperature resistance (cloud point) and oxidation stability. Moreover, we supply partially hydrogenated fatty acids that contain no trans-fat to food and personal care industries; whereas the current industry is dominated by hydrogenated oils with a significant content of trans fat, which the FDA marks as a health risk. Technical Feasibility. We have demonstrated our process at laboratory scale and are now positioned to scale-up. Our reaction has unprecedented selectivity and productivity at low catalyst loading. While it works well in the lab, technical challenges remain to develop it for industrial use, as there is currently no large-scale chemical synthesis for lactates. Applications and Users. Through the NSF I-Corps program, we find that lactate sellers like Hawkins and Galactic urgently need new suppliers of lactates. The USDA has recommended sodium lactate as a natural antimicrobial for meat production, and consumers and governments are demanding food products in which lactates replace chemical disinfectants. Lactate sellers can’t fill demand with current fermentation technology. High-oleate oil blends will be adopted by chemical companies such as P&G and Dow, as a healthier alternative to the hydrogenated high trans-fat oils.Market and Customers. Our economics are driven by two markets: lactates and oleates. We find that our lactate product will support a profitable business model alone: we aim to serve 10% of a $1.5B market in 4 years with a revenue margin of >50%. We find demand for the oleate blends with a total market of $36B and servable market of $1B in the US.
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