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Use of glycerol fraction from biodiesel plants

Development of an integrated concept for the further processing of glycerol fraction produced as a by-product in biodiesel plants, including final market product implementation in smes and hydrogen production for fuel cell systems

Biodiesel, most commonly methyl esters but also ethyl and higher alcohol esters, is generally manufactured from renewable vegetable oils or animal fats by reacting the oil or fat with methanol or other alcohol. Ester is separated from glycerol and then purified to give the final product. Glycerol is obtained as a by-product. The traditional method for using glycerol fraction is an expensive distillation method. Biodiesel fuels are attracting increasing attention as a direct replacement for diesel or as a blending component of fuels. Its use is encouraged by European governments via fiscal incentives, and through EU targets for biodiesel fuels set at 2% of the EU transport fuel market by 2005, and 5.75% by the end of 2010. One of the limitations is the high cost of producing bio-fuels, which makes them uncompetitive. However, if the huge surplus of bio-fuel production process by-products, e.g. glycerol, could be utilised in such a way as to contribute to the economic viability of biofuel industries, then bio-fuel production could meet the EU targets and associated goals. The general goal of the project is to develop cost effective methods for processing glycerol fraction from bio-diesel production for commercial quality detergents and/or fertilizers and/or energy products. The background for the project concept was an analysis of various glycerol fractions obtained from domestic and foreign biodiesel plants and positive results of preliminary research works performed with such fractions. The project includes complex activities, including: - Development of the new bases for surface-active agents. - Description of several routes for the further processing of such new bases in order to provide various value-added consumer products that offer a broad range of new environmentally friendly applications for the market, especially for SMEs. - Pilot tests and implementation of some of the new formulations. - Development of technology for processing raw glycerol into acetal-type derivatives. - Application tests on the use of glycerol formals as fuel components, acting as oxygenates and fuel improving agents. - Research and application tests on other uses of glycerol-based derivatives in transport fluids. - Research on autothermal glycerol reforming technology and catalytic (electrochemical) processing of glycerol fraction into hydrogen for fuel cell systems. - Anaerobic digestion of glycerol to convert it into digested fertiliser for use in agriculture and biogas rich enough in methane-gas for fuelling. The new solutions will make biodiesel production more economically effective through the elimination of expensive glycerol purification and the development of new processing routes for glycerol to result in valuable intermediates and final products. In order to offer complex and effective solutions for using glycerol fraction, the international consortium was formed with different types of expertise, background knowledge and experience, and includes research institutes, universities and SMEs. INSTYTUT CIESKIEJ SYNTEZY ORGANICZNEJ 'BLACHOWNIA' - Institute of Heavy Organic Synthesis (ICSO), POLAND is a coordinator. The other partners are: * WOJSKOWY OSRODEK BADAWCZO-ROZWOJOWY SUSBY MATERIARW PEDNYCH I SMAROW in Warsaw - Military R&D Centre of Petroleum Oils and Lubricants Service (WOBR SMPiS) - POLAND * LITHUANIAN ENERGY INSTITUTE (LEI) - Laboratory of Combustion Processes and Laboratory of Material Research and Tests - LITHUANIA * Uniwersytet Wroclawski - UNIVERSITY OF WROCLAW (UW) - POLAND * Uniwersytet Opole - OPOLE UNIVERSITY (UO) - POLAND. * FUNDACION TEKNIKER - SPAIN * CAILA Y PARES - SPAIN Keywords: glycerol, biodiesel, surfactants.
Acronym: 
USE-GLYSEROL
Project ID: 
3 590
Start date: 
01-11-2005
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
1 420 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Organic Substances
Market Area: 
Speciality/performance materials: producers and fabricators

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.