The World of Catalyst: Albemarle and Catlin Companies

Albemarle Sales Representative, Dr. Jennifer Nieweg, recently gave a presentation regarding the startup of her own company and her career path in various roles within Albemarle. Albemarle, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a chemical manufacturing enterprise with operating plants across the world.

After Dr. Nieweg completed graduate school in 2007, she started a company called Catilin which was funded by MDV (Mohr Davidow Ventures), a venture capitalist firm. Catilin focused on solid transesterification catalyst and the surrounding application technology to produce biodiesel. Catilin was acquired by Albemarle in 2011, after which Jennifer held various roles in R&D/ pilot scale demonstration and management, customer technical service, business development, and sales. The transesterification catalyst developed at Catilin (T300 catalyst) was demonstrated in the conversion of vegetable oils, animal fats, and other greases to biodiesel. After being acquired by Albemarle, the research and development team performed over 1600 reactions on “a variety of feeds, including corn, and algal oils…” After initial activity demonstrations, Albemarle began looking at process improvements. “Existing plants can be retrofitted with our catalyst systems.” In order to upgrade the plants, producers can use existing reactors and hardware. To implement the technology, these refiners will need to add a catalyst hopper and a catalyst isolation system.

Nonetheless, the T300 catalyst provides numerous advantages to biodiesel producers. These include:
· Higher Value glycerin (>95% purity)
· Safer handling
· Lower operating expenses for existing plants
· Lower capital expenditures for new plants
· Catalyst recyclability

The T300 technology provides an economic advantage due to the ability to process less refined feeds, all while producing a higher quality glycerin. The technology can result in overall increased margins of up to 70 cents per gallon of biodiesel. Albermale’s focus on catalyst can be concluded as their “heterogeneous catalysts have an important role to play in improving first generation routes and in developing second generation routes to more sustainable biofuels.”

In addition to producing the T300 catalyst, Albemarle is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of complex chemicals and services. Albemarle’s Catalyst Solutions and Performance Chemicals divisions provide innovative chemistry solutions to customers in over 100 countries around the world. Albemarle’s Performance Chemicals division produces fire safety solutions, specialty chemicals, and other fine chemistry services. Specialty chemicals include bromine derivatives, and mercury control; fire safety solutions specializes in flame retardant products; Albemarle’s fine chemistry services include agricultural, pharmaceutical, and custom applications. Other than the T300, Albermarle’s Catalyst Solutions are boundless. Albemarle manufactures catalysts for refinery applications, industrial chemicals, and the production of clean fuels, polymers, and electronic materials.

Finally, Dr. Nieweg has a few tips for students when job searching. She says that it is advantageous to apply for jobs early, and she recommends networking, as it is critical in the job search and workplace. She believes it is beneficial to have a LinkedIn account to learn of new opportunities and expand professional network. So, for those who are interested for careers in Performance Chemicals and Catalyst Solutions, Albemarle is the perfect fit.

1Albemarle. Albemarle- Catilin and GoBio T300.: Albemarle, 2011. Print.
2Albemarle. Improving the Production of FAME.: Albemarle, 2011. Print.

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