Rockwood Press Release
New Biodiesel production process uses catalytically active particles
to convert industrial byproducts and algae
Rockwood’s Sachtleben unit to introduce a revolutionary process
catalyst and build commercial-scale pilot plant in Minnesota
Princeton, NJ USA (February 16, 2010) – Sachtleben, a unit of Rockwood Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ROC) and the leading producer of specialty titanium dioxide and functional additives has developed catalytically active particles that stand to revolutionize the production of biofuels using sustainable and environmentally friendly means.
Sacthleben is working with Augsburg College and biodiesel producer Ever Cat Fuels LLC, which is currently designing the first commercial-scale pilot plant incorporating this innovative fluidized-bed catalyst system at Isanti, Minnesota, near Minneapolis.
The new process is simpler, sustainable and more energy efficient, as opposed to existing biodiesel production that often relies on expensive food crops, primarily cereal grains and soy. In addition, the production of biodiesel, as practiced for many years, involves a catalytic process followed by complex removal of the dissolved catalyst and purification of the biodiesel.
The new process, developed by Prof. Arlin Gyberg from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and Dr. Clayton McNeff, cofounder of Ever Cat Fuels LLC., a biodiesel company, uses highly catalytically active particles supplied by Sachtleben. The process will also permit the conversion of inferior fats, paper-industry waste and algae oil to high-quality diesel fuel. Sachtleben CEO Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Griebler described the new catalytic particles for biodiesel production: "In view of the growing scarcity of foodstuffs in many regions of the world, this new process for production of biodiesel from fat-containing waste products, which is receiving our active support, has multiple benefits over existing processes. In addition, the use of regenerable feedstocks for production of biodiesel in the new process will decrease emissions of CO2, since only the same amount of CO2 will be liberated as was taken in during growth of the input materials."
Sachtleben's catalytically active particles play a major role in the new approach for the significantly simpler production of biodiesel. The particles are, on the one hand, sufficiently stable to withstand the extreme reaction conditions, and are, on the other hand, the factor which makes rapid and complete transesterification of the feedstocks possible at all. Up until now, the reaction time in the process took several hours, whereas the new process utilizing Sachtleben particles takes just a few seconds.
In addition, the new Sachtleben catalyst particles are also capable, unlike established process, of converting free fatty acids present, for example, in spent or rancid natural fats and oils, to biodiesel. It is therefore possible to process not only high-quality - and expensive - rapeseed, sunflower, soya or palm oil, but also waste products with a high fat content, including waste from the production of paper, and used frying oils and fats, for instance.
Recent research results obtained by Gyberg, McNeff and Yan show that even certain types of algae, characterized by a high free fatty-acid content, can be converted to biodiesel. In future, the new process will permit global conservation of important foodstuff resources, and assure long-term supplies of biodiesel. The compact nature of the new process also means that smaller, decentralized plants can be installed, for example, at agricultural locations, and can be operated cost-effectively.
Sachtleben is the largest producer of specialty titanium dioxide pigments and a leading producer of functional additives. Based in Duisburg, Germany, Sachtleben product line includes pigments for synthetic fibers, packaging inks, cosmetics and personal care products and functional additives for a range of industries.
Rockwood Holdings, Inc. is a leading global specialty chemicals and advanced materials company. Rockwood has a worldwide employee base of approximately 10,000 people and annual net sales of approximately $3.0 billion. Rockwood focuses on global niche segments of the specialty chemicals, pigments and additives and advanced materials markets. For more information on Rockwood, please visit www.rocksp.com.
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