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Glycerol Management: Challenges and Opportunities for Biodiesel Producers and Refiners

Rathore V., Newalkar B., Badoni R.P.


During the last few years, concerns with availability and cost of conventional liquid fuels increased considerably. Considering the present scenario, bio-components are playing an important role in transportation fuels. One such bio-based fuel that is being widely commercialized is biodiesel. With the commercial production of biodiesel a glut of glycerol is going to be created as a byproduct; it will cause market prices to plummet which imbalance the economic viability of biodiesel process. This situation warrants finding novel ways where no glycerol is produced or expedites alternative uses for glycerol derivatives where economics support the overall biofuel program. The present study explores the novel ways for glycerol free production of biofuel/biodiesel by replacing methanol with dimethyl carbonate; hydroprocessing of vegetable oil; production of glycerol derivatives viz. glycerol ethers and propanediol or conversion into high value product like hydrogen. Also, efforts have been
made where minimal process modification is required in existing setup to handle vegetable oil (VO) and generated crude glycerol in conventional process requires no or minimal treatments. Thus, biodiesel producers can adopt the discussed technologies and refiners also valorize the low-cost glycerol to fulfill their energy requirement and expand their liquid fuel pool in near future.
Keywords: Biodiesel, glycerol, glycerol ethers, propanediol, hydrogen

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