California-based biorefining company Aemetis has announced that its Universal Biofuels plant in India has achieved a major milestone in the commercial production of advanced enzymatic biodiesel by processing one million pounds of low-cost waste feedstock unsuitable for use in traditional biodiesel production facilities and achieving high biodiesel yields by utilising its advanced enzymatic biodiesel process.
The production process utilised the first shipment of low-cost waste feedstock delivered to the Universal Biofuels plant by BP Singapore (BPS) pursuant to the three-year supply agreement signed by Aemetis and BPS in May 2017.
The 50-million-gallon-capacity Universal Biofuels plant, located on the east coast of India, in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, developed the patent-pending advanced enzymatic biodiesel process technology, designed and built the advanced enzymatic biodiesel process reactors, and is now converting low-cost waste feedstock into high-quality distilled biodiesel.
According to Aemetis, production costs are lowered as the pre-treatment conversion process uses less energy and fewer chemicals, such as methanol, than traditional biodiesel production processes.
In addition to improved operating costs, the low capital cost of the Aemetis advanced enzymatic biodiesel process allows for widespread and low cost adoption throughout the biodiesel industry by converting existing biodiesel plants.
“Through our internal development of pre-treatment processing of low quality waste oil feedstocks, we were able to unlock the advanced enzymatic biodiesel technology potential for commercial viability,” said Sanjeev Gupta, managing director of Universal Biofuels.
He added: “Using enzymes in our unique process technology opens new feedstock opportunities that will increase profitability.”
According to Aemetis, typical biodiesel processes are not economic to convert high Free Fatty Acid feedstocks common in waste oils such as brown grease, low-grade used cooking oils, palm fatty acid distillate and other plant oil waste feedstocks, which are usually about 1/3 lower in cost than traditional feedstocks.
These untapped waste feedstocks also have less price volatility than other oil feedstock markets, as few alternative markets exist. Since feedstock is the primary cost in biodiesel production, Aemetis anticipates its advanced enzymatic biodiesel process technology has the potential to positively impact its profit margins.
Biodiesel shipments to BPS will use a pipeline connection from the plant to the Port of Kakinada for bulk unloading of feedstock and loading of biodiesel onto ships primarily delivering to Europe and the US.
In April 2017, Aemetis filed a patent on the proprietary pre-treatment process used by Universal Biofuels to enable the enzymatic processing of waste oil feedstock to biodiesel. The Aemetis technology solves a primary issue of enzymatic biodiesel production, which is a requirement for the feedstock to maintain a constant optimal temperature, pH and contaminant level that allows for maximum enzymatic activity.
The Aemetis biorefinery in India also produces refined glycerin for pharmaceutical and industrial customers. The Aemetis plant is the first and only India biofuels producer approved under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard for delivery of tallow and waste oil biodiesel into California.
This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Biofuels International.