October 20, 2018

Will Glycerine replace Conventional Petrochemical Feedstocks?

The biodiesel industry has led to a glut of cheap glycerine

Growing concerns about the environment and the ever more restrictive regulations to control environmental pollution have caused researchers to search for innovative and economically viable alternative raw materials to use in the industrial and energy production sector

Fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) derived from vegetable oils and fats is considered as one such alternative renewable fuel.  FAME was initially produced for use as the intermediate feedstock for natural-based detergent (fatty alcohol) production but is increasingly used as a fuel blending component or as diesel replacement (i.e. biodiesel) since the introduction of the European Biofuels Directive in 2001.  This helped to drive biodiesel production, which in turn produced a by-product called glycerine/glycerol.

Glycerin was not always found to be compatible with its growing availability.  For every 10 kilograms of biodiesel produced, approximately 1 kilogram of a crude glycerol by-product is formed.  As global biodiesel production expands rapidly, the quantities of crude glycerin entering the supply chain has flooded the market and caused a precipitous drop in price of both refined and crude glycerin.  As a result, much of the crude glycerol by-product of biodiesel production is currently disposed of or is sold at a very minimal price. 

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