Optimization of Biodiesel Production Using Supercriticial Alcohols

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Permafuels, Inc.
105 Sudbury Lane
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Principal Investigator


Biodiesel production using supercritical alcohols not only is fast and clean but also allows the treatment of fats and oils that are lower in quality than those used in the usual method of base catalysis. However, the supercritical method has not been considered practical because of economic and safety issues associated with the high temperatures, high pressures, and amount of excess alcohol required. This project will develop technology to overcome these objections, making the supercritical process cost-competitive with base catalysis, even for high-quality fuelstocks. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: Because the supercritical method can treat low-quality fuelstocks such as waste vegetable oil and animal fats, the innovation should lead to an increased production of biodiesel at lower cost. The nation would benefit from an increased supply of a domestic sustainable fuel, resulting in rural job production, reduced emissions of diesel pollutants and greenhouse gases, and reduced dependency on foreign oil.