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Novozymes Technology Converts Waste Oils to Biodiesel

Novozymes has launched what it says is the first commercially available enzymatic solution to make biodiesel from waste oils.

The Novozymes Eversa enzymatic process converts used cooking oil or other lower grade oils into biodiesel. This allows biodiesel producers to reduce their raw material costs. The resulting biodiesel is sold to the same trade specification as biodiesel created through traditional chemical processing.

Growing demand for vegetable oil in the food industry has resulted in increased prices, causing biodiesel producers to search for alternative — and more sustainable — feedstocks. Most of the oils currently used are sourced from soybeans, palm or rapeseed, and typically contain less than 0.5 percent free fatty acids (FFA). Existing biodiesel process designs have difficulty handling oils containing more than 0.5 percent FFA, meaning that waste oils with high FFAs have not been a viable feedstock option until now, Novozymes says.

Eversa can work with a broad range of fatty materials as feedstock, but initial focus has been on used cooking oil, DDGS corn oil and fatty acid distillates.

Making the change from a chemical catalyst to the enzymatic process requires retrofitting in existing plants. Biodiesel producers looking to utilize Eversa will therefore have to invest time and resources to make the switch to the enzymatic process. Novozymes’ engineering partners estimate that the resulting improved process economy indicates a payback time of three years or less, depending on the plant setup and feedstock savings potential in that region.

The enzymatic process eliminates the need for sodium methoxide, one of the most hazardous chemicals in traditional biodiesel plants. The reduction of harsh chemicals and by-products ensures safety for both personnel and the environment.

A report published earlier this year forecast the global biodiesel market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1 percent between 2013 and 2018.

 

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