Researchers find new uses for glycerin

By Erin Voegele | September 16, 2008
For every ton of biodiesel that is produced, approximately 200 pounds of glycerin are created as a byproduct. As global biodiesel production rises, a glycerin surplus is being created that is often incinerated as waste. The overabundance is expected to increase as the United States and European Union step up production in order to meet biofuels mandates.

Recently, Wales-based Cardiff University and Florida Syngas LLC released information on their respective technologies designed to make use of this waste glycerin, giving biodiesel producers the potential for additional revenue streams.

Florida Syngas' technology is designed to convert glycerin into power. According to Chief Operating Officer John Sessa, the process involves creating plasma from the waste glycerin. The plasma isn't combusted but put through a process that creates partial oxidation. A catalyst is then added, and synthesis gas is produced, which fuels a micro-turbine engine to create electricity.

The technology, trademarked GlidArc, has been proven effective in the lab. The company's next step is to secure funding for a pilot-scale project. In August, Florida Syngas received a $3,000 award through the Florida Phase Zero program to help cover the cost of creating a Phase 1 proposal for the USDA's Small Business Innovation Research Program.

Albin Czernichowski, who holds a master's degree in chemistry and a doctorate in plasma technology, created the process.

It's estimated that only 5 percent of the energy created will be needed to perpetuate the process. According to a company presentation, the system will have a 20-minute "dwell
time" until the process becomes self-sufficient, after which it will be 90 percent energy efficient.

"There is a glut of glycerin on the market today, and it will only grow exponentially as the biodiesel industry matures," said Lawrence Bell, vice president of marketing for Florida Syngas. The process could allow biodiesel producers to create electricity to power their facilities and allow them to sell excess power to the grid. According to Bell, the technology could be especially useful in developing countries, where biodiesel facilities could be established in areas lacking reliable electrical supplies.

In Europe, researchers at Cardiff University are leading a $3.7 million project investigating the use of glycerin in creating value-added chemicals. The project builds on a previous study that identified a viable specialty chemical that can be derived from glycerin. The four-year project began in April and is being funded by both industrial partners and the Technology Strategy Board, a business-led executive, nondepartmental public body established by the government.

According to Graham Hutchings, professor of physical chemistry at Cardiff University, most aspects of the research are confidential, including the specific chemical that will be derived from glycerin. However, he said that high-tonnage uses of the chemical are being targeted.
Array ( [REDIRECT_REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [HTTP_USER_AGENT] => CCBot/2.0 ( [HTTP_ACCEPT] => text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 [HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE] => en-US,en;q=0.5 [HTTP_IF_MODIFIED_SINCE] => Mon, 19 Aug 2019 02:17:15 EDT [HTTP_HOST] => [HTTP_CONNECTION] => Keep-Alive [HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING] => gzip [PATH] => /sbin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/usr/bin [SERVER_SIGNATURE] =>
Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) Server at Port 80
[SERVER_SOFTWARE] => Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) [SERVER_NAME] => [SERVER_ADDR] => [SERVER_PORT] => 80 [REMOTE_ADDR] => [DOCUMENT_ROOT] => /datadrive/websites/ [SERVER_ADMIN] => [SCRIPT_FILENAME] => /datadrive/websites/ [REMOTE_PORT] => 38048 [REDIRECT_QUERY_STRING] => url=articles/2745/researchers-find-new-uses-for-glycerin [REDIRECT_URL] => /app/webroot/articles/2745/researchers-find-new-uses-for-glycerin [GATEWAY_INTERFACE] => CGI/1.1 [SERVER_PROTOCOL] => HTTP/1.1 [REQUEST_METHOD] => GET [QUERY_STRING] => url=articles/2745/researchers-find-new-uses-for-glycerin [REQUEST_URI] => /articles/2745/researchers-find-new-uses-for-glycerin [SCRIPT_NAME] => /app/webroot/index.php [PHP_SELF] => /app/webroot/index.php [REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT] => 1575878527.592 [REQUEST_TIME] => 1575878527 )