Solid Zn-base Catalysts for Simultaneous Transesterification and Esterification

Case ID:


WSU researchers have developed a series of novel heterogeneous catalysts for simultaneous transesterifrication and esterifrication of fats and oils that can be used in the production of biodiesel. These catalysts are solids, a mixture of zinc oxide and other metal oxides species which provide the potential to convert all kinds of oil feedstocks into biodiesel, including high quality oil feedstock whose FFA content is lower than 0.5% and lower quality oil feedstocks with FFA in the range of 0.5-100%. This technology can utilize crude oils, waste cooking oil, and rendered animal fats that are less expensive as compared to food grade vegetable oils. Furthermore, heterogeneous base catalysts are les corrosive, easily separated from biodiesel products, and generate no waste water. The use of these catalysts can significantly reduce the cost of producing biodiesel.


Currently, most of the commercial biodiesel produced in the United States comes from the transesterifrication of food grade vegetable oils with methanol using alkalis as catalysts.  With this conventional homogeneous method, free fatty acid (FFA) content in oils must be lower than 0.5% and have water content lower than 0.06%.  Thus, the high cost of food grade vegetable oils leads to high production costs of biodiesel.  Additionally, the use of homogeneous catalysts often leads to many engineering problems such as equipment corrosion and environmental problems involving the disposal of waste catalysts and contaminated wash water.   

Commercial Applications:

·         Simultaneous transesterifrication and esterifrication of fats and oils that can be used for biodiesel

·         The ability to convert crude oils into biodiesel

Competitive Advantages:

·        The use of these series of catalysts can greatly reduce the production cost of biodiesel

·         These highly active catalysts are easily separated and recovered from biodiesel products, low corrosive, and minimize the environmental problems associated with homogeneous catalytic methods


Patent Status:

Patent Pending

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Tech Transfer Staff
Wayne State University
Shuli Yan
Ka Yuen Simon Ng
Steven Salley