Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Improved Heterogeneous Catalyst for the Transesterification of Triglycerides to Biodiesel

EPA Contract Number: EPD10035
Title: Improved Heterogeneous Catalyst for the Transesterification of Triglycerides to Biodiesel
Investigators: Giletto, Anthony
Small Business: Lynntech Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2010 through August 31, 2010
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Emission Reductions and Biofuels , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


There is a finite amount of fossil fuels, which will only last a few more decades. Therefore, it is imperative to develop renewable sources of energy. An area that has recently attracted a lot of attention is the conversion of renewable oils to biodiesel, primarily through the methanolysis of triglycerides. The use of an immobilized lipase as a heterogeneous biocatalyst to transform oils into biodiesel is a very promising approach with many advantages over competing methods. Immobilized lipases, however, catalyze the transesterification reaction at a slower rate than homogeneous catalysis and are sensitive to high concentrations of methanol. Both of these characteristics have limited their industrial implementation.

This Phase I SBIR project involves the preparation of a heterogeneous, lipase-based transesterification catalyst that is rapid and stable in the presence of high concentrations of methanol. In Phase I, the catalyst will be prepared and characterized, and its performance to catalyze the transesterification reaction in the presence of an industrially relevant concentration of methanol will be compared to the most promising commercially available biocatalyst. The Phase II research will include the further optimization of the biocatalyst to improve methanol tolerance, catalytic rate, and reusability. In addition, the synthesis and use of the biocatalyst will be scaled up in collaboration with an industrial partner.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, fossil fuels, biofuels, vehicle emissions, renewable energy, biodiesel, heterogeneous biocatalyst, methanol, catalyst, triglycerides, transesterification, lipase-based transesterification,