FAQ

TransBiodiesel is a fast growing company that provides enzyme based catalysts to the biodiesel industry.

The company is the owner of unique patented technology for the production of biocatalysts based on recyclable immobilized lipases. These materials are used for the commercial production of fatty acid alkyl esters such as biodiesel.  Unlike chemical catalysts, biocatalysts are benign to the environment and reduce the total production costs of biodiesel fuels.

We intend to move aggressively to exploit our biodiesel and enzyme technology for the benefit of biodiesel producers, consumers, and shareholders.  TransBiodiesel’s technology offers competitive cost advantages in biodiesel production.

TransBiodiesel is uniquely positioned to provide catalytic solutions for multiple feedstocks including pure cooking oil; recycled cooking oil; fat trap (brown oil); animal fat; fish waste and chicken fat. The company’s biocatalyst enzymes can handle all of these and more……..

We are a stream-lined organization enabling us to respond rapidly to changes in the commercial environment.  TransBiodiesel serves multi-million dollar corporations alongside small companies. All receive the same high level of attention and customer service, addressing their needs and improving effectiveness.

TransBiodiesel’s managers have many years of experience in enzyme technology. This depth of professional knowledge combined with the company’s guiding principles enable us to promote our unique enzyme technology to the biodiesel industry.

We empower our employees to think independently and make decisions related to their work. TransBiodiesel believes in rewarding hard working, problem-solving, innovative employees. The company values trust and accountability. These qualities are apparent in the average length of employee tenure.

 

THE ENZYME PROCESS

What is the conversion rate of biodiesel per tonne of enzyme?

By using the TransBiodiesel technology, 3,000-5,000 tons of biodiesel can be produced per ton of enzyme, depending on the purity of the feedstock oil. In laboratory conditions/in field trials, we have even obtained a conversion rate in excess of 5,000 tons biodiesel per ton enzyme using pure oil, liquid at room temperature.

The current cost is $150-300 per kg enzyme, depending on volume. Total enzyme cost to produce 40,000 tons of biodiesel is around $2 million.

 

How much enzyme do you need to make 40,000 tonnes of biodiesel?

Based on the low figure of 3,000 tonnes biodiesel/tonne enzyme, 13.3 tonnes of enzyme are required to produce 40,000 tonnes of biodiesel.

 

How much does the enzyme cost?

The cost is $150-300 per kg enzyme depending on volume. Total enzyme cost to produce 40,000 tonnes of biodiesel is around $2 million.

 

What advantages does the enzyme have over conventional catalysts?

 

A higher purity/higher value glycerol is derived from the TransBiodiesel process compared to conventional production methods.

 

Where can the relevant production equipment be obtained?

The equipment can be sourced in most countries of the world country. Alternatively, TransBiodiesel can manufacture it in Israel and ship to the customer.


Can TransBiodiesel assist with the plans for the reactor?

 

Yes, we can assist in all relevant aspects of production planning.

 

Explain the main differences between biodiesel made using chemical and enzyme catalysis.

 

The main differences are highlighted in the table below.

 

Parameter

Enzymatic Process

Conventional Process

Reaction temperature

10-35°C

60-70°C (high energy)

Feedstock free fatty acid (FFA) content

Any purity feedstock containing  up to 100% FFA (FFA in biodiesel reduced to 0.8%)

Uses pure vegetable oil only. Makes soap with FFA! Requires pre-treatment in acidic process to remove FFA

Water in feedstock

No effect on biocatalysis at water content <5%

Destroys catalyst and produces soaps

Biodiesel yield

>98%

Typically 96%

Glycerol quality

Transparent; salt free; high quality

Blackish-brown; pH >7; low quality; contains salt

Catalyst removal

Recyclable for one year

Final product requires repeated washing to remove catalyst

Methanol recovery

No excess methanol for water content <5%

Large excess of methanol (water content prohibited) – requires stripping from final product

Waste generation

Extremely low

Significant waste generation: catalyst, saline, alkaline effluent, water

Catalyst requirement/tonne biodiesel

0.3 kg

15 kg

Cost of catalyst/kg biodiesel

$0.05-0.07

$0.09-0.11

Capital cost

Low. Roughly 50% of capex for conventional technologies – retrofit to enzymatic reactor

High

Government directives on biofuel

Can be met with any feedstock

Cannot be met with available feedstock

Tax incentives

Profitable without tax incentives

Necessary to reach profitability

Environment

Non-toxic

Toxic chemicals

Other operating costs

Very low

High

 

 

What is the process efficiency?

 

The process can convert more than 99% of any feedstock to biodiesel. Glycerol of relatively high quality is produced (transparent, salt-free). Glycerol purity depends on FFA content - typically 80% when yellow grease is used as a feedstock.

 

Is the enzyme process ready for use now?

 

The enzyme is ready for use at any scale either batchwise or in continuous process.

 

How many process installations are operating with enzymes now?

 

Two: one batchwise (1500 liters) and the other continuous, producing 8-10 tonnes/day.


What are the process costs?

 

The enzymatic process is competitive with alkaline and acid-based processes for the production of biodiesel.


What negative reactions does the enzyme process give?

 

The enzyme should not be exposed to temperatures above 40°C.


What process conditions are required?

 

Reaction ratio (oil:methanol or oil:ethanol) of 1:3. The reaction is performed at room temperature (preferably 35°C). The biocatalyst can be run batchwise in a mechanically stirred tank reactor or in a continuous reactor using packed-bed columns. The biodiesel produced requires post-treatment in order to meet ASTM or EN specs.

 

Temperature, moisture, etc.?

 

The reaction can be carried out at any temperature as long as the oil is liquid starting at 15°C and up to 35°C. Moisture has little influence on enzyme activity. Any type of feedstock with a water content of up to 5% may be used.


What are the installation costs?

 

Capital cost for the enzymatic process is around 50% of the capital cost required for a conventional biodiesel plant of similar production capacity.

 

What water content is acceptable?

 

Our transesterification/esterification biocatalysts are tolerant towards the presence of water. Oil feedstock containing up to 5% water can be treated with our enzymes.

 

Is it preferable to remove water from the feedstock or will it separate out in the glycerol phase?

 

Water may be left in the feedstock due to the moisture tolerance of transesterification /esterification reactions. Water is best removed in the glycerol phase.

 

What % methanol is added to the feedstock?

 

The per cent of methanol added depends on the FFA of the feedstock. For feedstock of zero FFA, 12% methanol by weight is required whereas  15% FFA requires 14% methanol.

 

What is the filtration requirement for particulates prior to the reactor beds?

 

Currently, biodiesel is filtered to 2 micron. Our intention is to filter up front and avoid packing the resin beds etc. It is preferable to filter to 5 micron prior to the enzymatic reaction. This avoids blockage of the enzyme bed.

 

GLYCEROL

 

What is the price of glycerol?

 

The price of glycerol varies according to quality. Glycerol derived from our enzymatic process is in the range $100-300/tonne depending on purity/application .

 

Some high FFA oils are almost black. What will be the color of biodiesel and glycerol after the process? Is it necessary to go through a bleaching step?

 

The color will remain the same after enzymatic treatment. Hydrophilic color materials will move to the glycerol phase and hydrophobic color materials will remain in the biodiesel phase.

 

 

What quality/color glycerol is obtained?

 

The quality is very high. Only small amounts of water and methanol are present in the glycerol, which is colorless. Photos can be provided.

 

PROCESS OVERVIEW

 

What wastes are generated in biodiesel and glycerol?

 

The enzyme resin must be exchanged once every 6-12 months depending on the feedstock quality. Apart from that there are no wastes from the process. The enzyme resin may be incinerated or landfilled. The biodiesel and glycerol phases will maintain the non-fatty acid materials. Therefore, both phases should undergo physical treatment to bring them to the required specifications.

 

Is any special equipment or additional process required?

 

No. Continuous plant utilizes standard columns. Batch systems require standard stirred tank reactors.

 

What is the conversion efficiency of the enzyme catalyst in biodiesel production?

 

1 kg of biocatalyst will produce at least 3 tonnes of biodiesel,  and maybe up to 5 tons depending on oil quality.

 

Does FFA level have an effect on conversion efficiency?

 

Increasing feedstock FFA in the range 5-20% increases conversion efficiency.

 

What are the oil raw material requirements at industrial scale?

 

The waste oil needs to be free of solids and liquid at 35°C. For complete enzymatic process water content should be below 2%. Reduction of FFA, free solids and free water is required. Solids will plug/contaminate the biocatalyst and water inhibits the reaction.

 

Feedstock oil needs to be filtered down to 1-5 microns (preferably 1 micron). Note, particle size is not the relevant measure for determination of solids content. For example, 10% solids by volume may be particles below 1 micron.  Solids may plug the reactor screen. If solids pass through screen they will go out with glycerol.  Filtering of waste oils and grease is often problematic due to filter plugging. We therefore recommend centrifugation.

 

Is there any soap formation using the enzyme-based catalyst. Are there any other by-products in addition to the glycerol?

 

There is no soap formation but there is a water formation.

 

Are there any special requirements for biodiesel purification after transesterification, esterification and settling steps?

 

Only if excess methanol or water are present.

 

Are there any Cold Soak requirements?

 

The enzymatic process does not take care of Cold Soak.  Cold Soak is a function of crystal (sterols) formation and is dependent on characteristics of the feedstock.  Animal oil is worse than soy oil. There are several post-treatments to improve Cold Soak.

 

Is there the possibility of utilizing regular ion-exchange columns for the transesterification step instead of CSTR?

 

It is possible but not economical.

 

What issues of concern are there when using fat as a feedstock?

Animal fat contains high levels of free fatty acid (FFA). The conventional chemical process utilizes sodium methylate (NaOCH3) or sodium hydroxide/methanol as catalysts. Using these catalysts FFA is converted to the sodium salt of fatty acids (commonly referred to as "soap"). By contrast, TransBiodiesel’s enzymatic process is natural, non-chemical and does form soap. The enzyme converts both the oil (triglycerdides) and FFA to biodiesel.

 

 

 

 

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS ON BIODIESEL

 

What is biodiesel?

 

Biodiesel is a natural, renewable, domestic alternative fuel for diesel engines.  It comprises monoalkylesters (long chain esters) derived from natural feedstock such as animal fat, vegetable or animal oils. Vegetable oil is converted to biodiesel by a chemical (waste intensive) or enzymatic (environmentally-friendly) process called trans- esterification. Biodiesel can be used pure or blended with diesel. Biodiesel blends are usually denoted by BXX, where “XX” indicates the percentage by volume of biodiesel in the blend.

 

Does biodiesel differ from petroleum diesel?

 

Biodiesel has similar characteristics to fossil-based diesel. It can be used as a fuel for almost any diesel engine.  Biodiesel is classified as a "carbon positive" fuel. This means that biodiesel use does not increase the net amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Biodiesel therefore differs from fossil-based petroleum diesel fuel, which releases fossilized carbon into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Biodiesel contains zero sulphur (the main cause of acid rain). Biodiesel exhaust gases contain far fewer carcinogens and dangerous particulates than petroleum diesel exhausts, making biodiesel better for public health.

 

Sources of Feedstock

 

The feedstock for biodiesel is 100% natural.  It is a derivative of natural animal fat, vegetable or animal oils, waste cooking oil etc.  Recently non-edible Jatropha oil was used as a source of feedstock.  A lot of work is currently being done to produce oil from algae though a commercial product is probably at least a decade away.  Cooking oil is the main ingredient in the production of biodiesel. However the prices of such edible oil keeps going up due to demand for biodiesel.  It therefore makes sense to use waste animal fat as a good, inexpensive source. However, fat has a significant disadvantage: in the conventional process, due to the high level of free fatty acid, it makes soaps instead of biodiesel.

 

Cooked versus Pure Virgin Oil

 

Virgin vegetable oil is probably the best feedstock for biodiesel since it is pure and does not form soaps or other impurities. However, such oil is expensive.  Consumer advocates tend to recommend recycled cooking oil, the waste vegetable oil (WVO) generated by restaurants.  WVO is a better candidate for biodiesel production since it is much cheaper and, if used for fuel, saves the environment from waste and contamination.

 

A wide variety of vegetable oils may be used including soybean, sunflower, canola, corn and peanut. Of these oils, soy, sunflower and canola are the best, followed by corn and peanut. Least desirable are coconut, palm and hydrogenated oils due to their tendency solidify at room temperatures and may require pre-heating to liquefy.