In recent years, with the rapid expansion in biodiesel production, the biodiesel industry is facing the dilemma, on the one hand, of how to meet an ever-growing biofuel demand, and on the other, manage excessive crude glycerol so that it does not pose a threat to the environment. About 10-11% (w/w) glycerol is generated as the main by-product of the biodiesel and oleochemical industry and therefore the conversion of glycerol to a value-added chemical is desirable. Several approaches to utilize crude glycerol have been investigated; however, to date, the direct utilization of glycerol has not been a viable option, because the majority of the current conversion approaches lead to low yields and/or high impurities and high energy consumption, which hampers large scale processing.
Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a new rapid, efficient and economically viable method to convert glycerol into several value-added chemicals such as allyl alcohol (AA) and allyl formate (AF) as well as their polymerized forms, which may be used as paint thinners and strippers; reactive plasticizers to improve thermoplastic processing; in the production of glycidyl ethers, esters, amines; and copolymers for the production of drying oils, and flame-resistance materials. The process is high yielding (61 % yield for AA, and 65% yield for AF) and results in high purity (98%). The reaction can be carried out using either conventional heating or under microwave conditions and it is also amenable to large scale production. It is estimated that the initial capital cost required to implement the conversion would pay for itself within a year by eliminating the need for waste removal costs and sales of a new product stream.
- Amenable to large scale production
- High purity, high yield of allyl monomers and polymers
- New product stream for a by-product waste material
The invention represents a valuable opportunity for uses ranging from laboratory-scale production (micrograms) to process scale (gram-kilogram) production.
Technology Management Group
TEC Edmonton – University of Alberta