Wayne State University

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

DETROIT—April 1, 2010. 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.”


NextCAT is a startup company located at TechTown, the Wayne State University research and technology park in Detroit. It was founded in 2009 by inventors Dr. Simon Ng, Dr. Steven Salley, Dr, Shuli Yan and Interim CEO Charles Salley. NextCAT offers a class of heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel production that allow biodiesel producers to use less refined and cheaper feedstocks in their production process. For more information, visit http://nextcatinc.com/

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.

Media Contacts:
Julie O’Connor, Wayne State University, ag2712@wayne.edu or (313) 577-8845
Derrin Leppek, NextCAT Inc., media@nextcatinc.com or (586) 491-4102