Detroit-based NextCAT Inc. signs an option agreement for Wayne State University biodiesel technology

DETROIT - NextCAT Inc., a Detroit-based company, announced today that it has signed an option agreement for a biodiesel technology developed at the National Biofuels Energy Lab at Wayne State University. The technology that NextCAT brings to market allows biodiesel producers to use cost-effective raw materials in their production process.

The United States has roughly 176 biodiesel plants, though 80 percent of them are sitting idle because of heavy losses from high raw material costs. Many of the estimated 23,000 jobs in this industry remain in jeopardy if raw material costs are not resolved.

"This is a big milestone for us," said Charles Salley, interim CEO of NextCAT Inc. "In February, we received our first round of outside funding from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. Now, with this option agreement on the technology, we can begin pilot-scale testing this spring to demonstrate what our products can do for biodiesel plants that saw a very tough year in 2009. With most producers in the U.S. sitting idle because feedstock prices went through the roof, we can enable them to use much cheaper feedstocks."

The NextCAT technology developed by researchers at Wayne State allows producers to use feedstocks that cost as little as 10 cents per pound. "Our catalysts can tolerate both high free fatty acid and water, and low-cost feedstocks are typified by both of these characteristics," said Simon Ng, Ph.D., chief technology officer at NextCAT, interim associate dean for research in Wayne State's College of Engineering and the technology's co-inventor. "Many producers experimented with trying to pretreat the feedstocks before they enter the stream, but unless you fix the core of the problem, the catalyst, you have a process that is far from optimal. My colleagues Dr. Shuli Yan, Dr. Steven Salley and I worked hard to make this happen."

"With funding from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and the option agreement for the technology in place, we know this is just the beginning of a very busy but exciting year as we move forward to help an industry that is in serious need of our assistance," said Salley. "This industry can help lessen our dependence on foreign oil and, at the same time, improve our environment - a win-win for all of us."

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