Blue Sun First to Commercialize Enzymatic Biodiesel Process at Scale

Blue Sun Energy, a transportation fuel technology commercialization company, has implemented its enzymatic biodiesel processing technology at its 30 million gallon per year biodiesel production facility in St. Joseph, Missouri, making it the most advanced in the world.

Blue Sun says it has fully commercialized the enzymatic process technology and the St. Joseph plant is operating at full scale, which will give it a clear competitive advantage in the biodiesel market. The process at the St. Joe refinery produces high-quality biodiesel, which is further improved by the state-of-the-art distillation system installed last year at the refinery.

This new process utilizes Novozymes' Callera Trans L® enzyme — the first implementation in the world of enzymatic transesterification at significant commercial scale. Blue Sun says the process is more efficient in methanol recovery and use, further reducing costs. In co‑products, the value of glycerin produced is much higher than in standard biodiesel operations — 20 to 30 cents per pound versus less than 10 cents per pound traditionally.

"The process developed by Blue Sun for enzymatic transesterification improves the bottom line through lower costs and higher revenue," said Sean Lafferty, Vice President of Technology & New Business. "Blue Sun can use essentially any feedstock without limit to free-fatty-acid content. This reduces pre-treatment requirements and costs significantly. Blue Sun's feedstock advantage alone can yield a savings of 10 cents per pound of feedstock, or 75 to 80 cents lower cost per gallon of finished biodiesel."

Blue Sun was the first company to establish a high-quality biodiesel specification, and in 2004 introduced the most advanced biodiesel under the brand Fusion™. The company specializes in identifying promising technologies in renewable fuels and taking them to commercial reality.

Biodiesel has become an attractive alternative fuel for the airline industry. Last year, the USDA extended for five years its agreement to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing and other partners to help develop a viable biofuel for the aviation industry. The program focuses on future goals — such as designating personnel, evaluating current and potential feedstock types and systems, developing multiple feedstock supply chains, developing state and local public-private teams, communicating results and issuing periodic reports.

In March, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said it will begin operating weekly transatlantic flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and Amsterdam’s Schiphol using a biofuel mixture consisting of 25 percent cooking oil and 75 percent jet fuel. And in 2012, British Airways agreed to purchase $500 million worth of sustainable jet fuel as part of its GreenSky London Initiative. The program was created by the airline in partnership with Solena Group, a U.S.-based biofuel manufacturer, to annually convert approximately 500,000 tons of landfill waste into 50,000 tons of low-carbon jet fuel, 50,000 tons of biodiesel, bionaptha and renewable energy.


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