Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Biodiesel Production Based on Waste Cooking Oils and Heterogeneous Catalysts(ST9383-1)

United Environment and Energy LLC


Biodiesel is a renewable diesel fuel substitute made from new or used vegetable oils or animal fats. When made to standards defined by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), biodiesel can be sold in diesel transportation markets.

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Project Description

Researchers reduced the cost of biodiesel production by developing a reusable catalyst to replace the catalyst used in current commercial practice, making the process continuous, rather than batch, and focusing on less expensive waste grease feedstock. The concept was developed over two NYSERDA projects. In Stage One, the Contractor developed a catalyst that exhibits superior performance, to any heterogeneous catalysts reported in literature for converting waste cooking oils, to biodiesel yielding higher than 98% conversion at room temperature and ambient pressure in six hours. It was re-used in 20 consecutive reaction cycles with an activity decrease of only 3%. A small-scale pilot plant was constructed and 30 gallons of biodiesel were produced from used cooking oil. The biodiesel met ASTM D6751 standard in flash point, water and sediment, kinematic viscosity, sulfated ash, sulfur, copper strip corrosion, cetane number, cloud point, free glycerol, and total glycerol. The cost of the catalyst is 4.8 cents for producing one gallon of biodiesel, versus a catalyst cost of 16 cents for a conventional homogeneous alkaline catalyst. Taking into account the simple separation and purification process of this new technology, the total production cost per gallon biodiesel in the 300,000 gallon/year capacity facility is $0.95. (The estimated accuracy is +/- 15%.) This gives UEE’s biodiesel the ability to compete with petroleum-based diesel on a production cost basis.


The successful development of this technology could lead to an energy-efficient and cost-effective biodiesel production technology. This proposed process uses 55 megajoule (MJ) of energy per gallon biodiesel, as opposed to 67 MJ used in traditional biodiesel production. The production costs are projected to be $0.90 per gallon from a more typical $1.50 to $2.25.

Project Results

Work continued in this Stage Two project, where objectives included: scaling up the heterogeneous catalyst production and developing a pelletization process to manufacture it, identifying markets, and licensing the technology. Stage Two work has successfully scaled up the heterogeneous catalyst production process, built a 60,000 gallon/year continuous flow fixed-bed biodiesel production facility, tested and further improved the heterogeneous catalyst performance, determined the optimal fixed-bed reactor operating conditions, evaluated the heterogeneous catalyst at the fixed-bed facility of a major biodiesel producer, conducted an economic analysis, developed a comprehensive business plan, and reached a Technology Option Agreement with a major biodiesel company. Future stages include building and operating a 300,000 gallon/year plant. While they have not yet licensed the technology, they are in serious negotiations to do so. Stage One work included development of a reusable, heterogeneous catalyst for biodiesel production, building a pilot plant, and demonstrating production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil. Stage One success was based on the catalyst efficiency. During Stage Two, discussions were held with several well-known nationwide biodiesel manufacturers regarding technology licensing, and an options agreement was signed with one firm that performed on-site testing of the system.


United Environment and Energy LLC
111 Ridge Rd
Horseheads, NY 14845

Principle Investigator

Ben Wen

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Indigenous/Renewable Energy Resources

Technologies Types:

NYSERDA Contact Information

Judy Jarnefeld


R&D - Environment & Energy Res

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST9383-1

Last Updated: 12/1/2010