This article in Biodiesel Magazine was cut and pasted from a longer story covering other companies’ news (click here for original) and published December 28, 2018. By Ron Kotrba, Senior Editor.
In January 2018, Raj Mosali, co-founder and CEO of Jatrodiesel, reorganized his company and rechristened it Jatro Renewables Inc. to better fulfill his vision and adapt to the changing biofuels business model. “My vision is to be a full-service provider, not just a process technology provider,” Mosali says. “Due to our 15-plus years of experience in the biodiesel area, apart from our core competency in biodiesel and supercritical processes, we gained valuable expertise in other areas such as operations, feedstock procurement, product sales, process scaling and more.” Mosali says he would like to leverage this expertise in other related areas, including renewable diesel, higher-efficiency extractions and more. He highlights Jatro Renewables’ robust R&D and partnerships, and says he is working on commercializing newer technologies to be unveiled soon. “The biodiesel industry is fairly mature but also changing,” he says. “The demand is slowly climbing, but also the need for better and higher-efficiency extraction procedures is going up, which will eventually lead into relooking at alternative feedstocks or alternative ways to produce biofuels. We want to be at the forefront of this.”
Mosali is no stranger to being at the forefront of alternative technologies. In 2013, Patriot Renewable Fuels contracted Jatrodiesel to build a first-of-its-kind supercritical biodiesel plant scaled at 5 MMgy co-located with its 125 MMgy ethanol plant in Annawan, Illinois. Since then, CHS Inc. bought the complex and commissioned the plant in late 2015. The startup was a milestone but did not come without its problems.
“There were a few unanticipated and hard technical issues that we had to overcome,” Mosali says. “The relatively easier fixes were in the supercritical process itself. Working closely with CHS and Green Tech Solutions, our Japanese partner who owns the original patents on supercritical biodiesel, and tapping their expertise was helpful. CHS’s support and contribution to the effort have been priceless and went beyond a traditional vendor-customer relationship. I would term this as a success for both Jatro Renewables and CHS.” CHS is now operating the plant 24/7 in Annawan, Illinois.
Jatro Renewables’ supercritical technology is a single-stage, continuous process that puts no limit on free fatty acids. It cuts the cost of traditional biodiesel refining by 25 percent, Mosali says, in part by eliminating the need for catalysts. Complete conversion takes place in minutes with minimal yield loss, and water has no adverse effect on the process. Mosali says it is operationally efficient and less error-prone. “Operations are easier,” he says, adding that running a supercritical plant is relatively hands-off compared to even the most automated conventional plant.
The market is looking for high-quality, efficiently produced biodiesel, Mosali says. “Also, the market’s looking for competitively priced product,” he says. “Due to economics, producers have to constantly look for the cheapest feedstock and keep producing high-quality biodiesel efficiently. Biodiesel is now a true commodity in terms of pricing and availability, and technology has to adapt to that.” He adds that the two biggest factors allowing supercritical producers to ride the waves of market uncertainty are the ability to process any feedstock and the lowest per-gallon operational costs. “The lowest-cost operator who is highly efficient will survive,” Mosali says. “Our supercritical technology offers that to the customer.”