Challenges in conventional enzymatic biodiesel production

Conventional biodiesel processes in this section refers to enzymatic processes that do not use a solvent.

1. Poisoning or deactivation of solid or liquid catalyst

One of the major causes of lipase deactivation or inefficiency of the process is adherence of glycerol droplets to the amphihilic catalysts. As it accumulates, it causes the activity to decrease and, eventually, the catalyst to deactivate. Lipase deactivation due to this phenomenon occurs regardless of whether the catalyst is liquid or solid. Due to its viscosity, accumulation of glycerol hinders the reaction as well.

2. Process is too slow

The enzyme limitations given above lead to a long reaction time. Aside from lengthy reaction periods, there are also challenges in biodiesel quality consistency and process reliability, which render the conventional approach non-cost-effective for commercial application.

 

ET Process®: Enzymatic Biodiesel/ Fatty Acid Alkyl Ester Technology

The ET Process® is a proprietary biodiesel technology developed by Sunho Biodiesel Corporation. Below are the key features and advantages of the process.

Read more about our enzymatic biodiesel technology.

Features
What that means
Simultaneous transesterification (oil) and esterification (FFA)

  • No need to separate oil and fatty acid in the feedstock
  • No oil loss from pretreatment
  • Less capital investment and operational cost from pretreatment processes
Low lipase consumption

  • Catalyst does not become a burden on expenses
  • Amount required is at least 10 times less than the conventional enzymatic processes
Long lipase lifespan

  • System stability/reliability and consistent product quality

Optimized use of Inert solvent

  • Protects the catalyst so the activity remains high for an extended period
  • Easily separated from the products and recycled into the system
No washing and no wastewater

  • Small environmental footprint; No water footprint
  • No expenses from post processing of wastewater
  • No product loss
Safe to operate

  • No hazardous chemicals
Cost-effective, pure products

  • Aside from biodiesel, pure glycerin is also produced without the need for tedious purification.
Natural plant extracts

  • High value phytonutrients are easily recovered and preserved from some oils

 

ET Process® vs. the chemical approach

The simultaneous conversion feature of the ET Process® distinguishes it from the chemical approach. It has the greatest impact on cost savings because feedstock contributes the most to expenses. Consider that typical oil feedstocks are composed mostly of oil with a small percentage of acid and the cost of separating 5% or 50% of acid from a feedstock is nearly the same. In a conventional chemical approach (alkaline), which can only convert natural oil, the additional separation step is required, but removing a small percentage of acid will entail the same cost burden without any significant profit. The ET Process® does away with this step entirely, leading to less feedstock loss and lower expenses.