Step-Out Process to Upgrade Clycerol to Bio-Diesel
Department of Energy
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Small Business Information
99 Dorsa Avenue, Livingston, NJ, 07039
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThe production of biodiesel around the world is increasing at an astonishing pace. In the U.S., total annual production capacity is expected to be almost 2 billion gallons by the end of 2008. At this production rate, over 660,000 metric tons of glycerol will be produced as a by-product each year ¿ over 2.5 times the current U.S. glycerol production capacity ¿ creating a glycerol glut with few outlets. This project aims to develop technology for converting the excess glycerol byproduct from biodiesel production into glycerol tert-butyl ethers, an oxygenated additive for diesel fuel. Phase I demonstrated that this reaction can be conducted in a fixed-bed reactor using a highly active and selective heterogeneous catalyst. The catalyst was proven stable for 50 hours of continuous operation. Limitations on the reaction rate were identified, and methods to overcome these limitations were demonstrated. Phase II seeks to develop reactor configurations and process designs that can be integrated seamlessly into existing yet idle units for the production of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), taking full advantage of the similarity between glycerol etherification and MTBE process chemistry. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: This technology eliminates the primary waste stream from the production of biodiesel and converts it into a valuable commodity, an additive for diesel fuel. It simultaneously improves the economics and profitability of conventional biodiesel by adding value to a waste stream, allows refiners to meet renewable fuel standards in diesel, and offers MTBE producers the opportunity to utilize existing plants with low capital investments.
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