Detroit-based NextCat Inc. said Tuesday that it had received $250,000 from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund.

NextCat is commercializing biodiesel catalyst technology developed at the National Biofuels Energy Lab at Wayne State University that will allow biodiesel producers to use cost-effective raw materials.

Founded in 2009, NextCat is commercializing a class of catalysts that enable producers to use a wide variety of inexpensive feedstocks such as waste vegetable oil, animal fats and residual corn oil, and convert them into biodiesel.

NextCat offers a unique solution for an industry that has been mostly idled in the United States since 2008 when rising feedstock prices and the price drop of petroleum diesel made the production of biodiesel uneconomical.

With a cost savings of at least $1 per gallon, NextCat greatly changes the economics of a biodiesel plant.

“We have a technology that has been proven in the lab by the science team at Wayne State University’s National Biofuels Energy Lab,” said Charles Salley, CEO of NextCat Inc. “This seed funding from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund allows us to begin to design, build and install a reactor in an idle biodiesel plant in Michigan. This investment of $250,000 in NextCat from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund brings the total amount of funding to date to $525,000.”

Simon Ng, chief technology officer at NextCat and interim associate dean for research in Wayne State’s College of Engineering, is the technology’s co-inventor.

NextCat is located at TechTown, the Wayne State University research and technology park in Detroit. It was founded in 2009 by Ng, Steven Salley, Shuli Yan and Charles Salley.

NextCat offers a class of heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel production that allow biodiesel producers to use less refined and less expensive feedstocks in their production process.

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