NextCAT Inc. secures license agreement for advanced biofuel technology from Wayne State University

The license agreement will allow NextCAT to commercialize a class of catalysts that enable biodiesel producers to use cost-effective raw materials such as waste vegetable oil, animal fats and residual corn oil, and convert them into biodiesel. This technology offers a unique process solution for an industry that has been mostly idled in the United States since 2008, when rising feedstock prices rendered the production of biodiesel uneconomical. With a cost savings of at least $1 per gallon over traditional diesel fuel, the NextCAT solution greatly changes the economics of a biodiesel plant.

NextCAT recently secured seed funding from Automation Alley to begin the design, build and installation of a reactor at an idle biodiesel plant in Michigan. With this investment, along with other investments and grant funding, including awards from the National Science Foundation, NextCAT has received more than $800,000 to bring this technology to market.  

In addition to the cost and energy savings associated with biodiesel fuel, there are several advantages that make it a smart choice to manufacture and use. Biodiesel is nontoxic and biodegradable and therefore is environmentally safe. Advanced biofuels, in general, are produced domestically, thus lessening dependence on foreign oil. Also, producing advanced biofuels can stimulate the local economy through job creation in farming, transportation and production.

“The science team of Dr. Steven Salley, associate professor of chemical engineering, College of Engineering; Dr. Shuli Yan, research director at NextCAT; and I are excited to see our technology progressing toward usage by the biodiesel producers, and we look forward to a successful production demonstration later this year,” said Simon Ng, Ph.D., chief technology officer at NextCAT, interim associate dean for research in Wayne State’s College of Engineering and the technology’s co-inventor.

 “The NextCAT technology offers an exciting alternative to the current biodiesel fuel production process,” said Hilary Ratner, Ph.D., vice president for research at Wayne State University. “With this license agreement in place, NextCAT can now take the technology to the next level and ultimately make a major impact on our environment as well as our economy.”

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