Green diesel production from hydrotreating of soybean oil over supported bimetallic carbide catalysts

Case ID:

Currently, there are two types of hydroprocessing catalysts available for converting vegetable oils to diesel range hydrocarbons; supported noble metal catalysts (Pd or Pt) and sulfide bimetallic catalysts (usually Mo- or W-based sulfide promoted with Ni or Co).  Disadvantages arise however using these catalysts, as their limited availability and high price makes the process not economically viable.  Noble metal catalysts are also very sensitive to catalyst poisons and contaminants found in feedstock which can cause deactivation of the catalysts, leading to the necessity of removing impurities from the feedstocks.  The base metals in these hydrotreating catalysts need to be maintained in their sulfide form in order to be active at process conditions, therefore requiring a sulfurization co-feed to be added to the feedstock.  Furthermore, the products obtained using these catalysts are essentially n-paraffins, solidifying at subzero temperatures making them unsuitable for high quality diesel fuels, kerosene, and gasoline compounds.    

Wayne State University researchers have developed a novel series of catalysts for hydrotreating of fats and oils to be used for the production of biofuels, especially green diesel.  These catalysts are prepared through impregnation method followed by carburization of metal oxide precursors through temperature-programmed reaction (TPR) conducted in a reactant gas stream.  These are bimetal carbide catalysts and provide the potential to convert all kinds of oil feedstocks into green diesel fuels.  

This new technology utilizes the carbides of early transition metals which can exhibit high activity, similar to the noble metals.  These catalysts exhibit excellent activity and selectivity for hydrodeoxygenation of triglycerides and free fatty acids. The application of the technology also eliminates the need to add a sulfur compound to a biomass-derived feedstock.    


Commercial Applications:

·         Convert fresh and unrefined waste oils into green diesel

Technological Advantages:

·         Substantially reduce the production costs of biodiesel

o    Reduced production complexity

o    Lower operating costs

o    Convert unrefined or waste oils into green diesel


·High yield-

o    Approximately 95% yield of green diesel was obtained by hydroprocessing of soybean oil

o    Yield of green diesel is 80% greater than commercially available hydrocracking catalysts


·         Long Catalyst Life- nearly double the active lifetime of existing catalysts (850hrs+ vs. 450hrs with current hydroprocessing techniques)


·         Reduce the engineering and environmental problems caused by sulfurization reagents in the traditional hydroprocessing reaction.


Patent Status:

Provisional patent on file

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Nic Wetzler
Wayne State University
Huali Wang
Ka Yuen Simon Ng
Steven Salley