Asian Invasion

How Benefuel aims to produce biodiesel more efficiently, cheaper in Asia
By Bryan Sims | April 21, 2011

Tokyo, Japan-based international commodities trading firm Itochu Corp. is on a quest to produce biodiesel cost-effectively and efficiently in Asia using a new biofunctional solid catalyst developed by Chicago-based Benefuel Inc. Consequently, Itochu invested a 4 percent stake in Benefuel to help achieve this objective.

While he couldn’t disclose the specific type of catalyst, Benefuel CEO Robert Tripp tells Biodiesel Magazine that the company’s patent-pending bifunctional solid catalyst is capable of converting virtually any fat, oil and fatty acids to biodiesel simultaneously with no effluent during downstream polishing and separating. With Itochu’s small stake in Benefuel, Tripp expects Benefuel’s catalyst to make an impression in the Asian biodiesel industry.

“Our technology is applicable to the worldwide biodiesel market and Itochu is a very large commodities house,” Tripp says. “We’re really looking forward to working with Itochu to grow our business in Asia as well as in other parts of the world and have their assistance where and when they can provide it.”

Demonstration experiments have been conducted using Benefuel’s bifunctional solid catalyst by Itochu jointly with Daiki Axis Co. Ltd., a leading biodiesel producer in Japan. Itochu aims to develop operations using Benefuel’s bifunctional solid catalyst in Asian markets by 2012.

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