High Value Renewable Chemical Production from CO2 and Biodiesel Plant Byproduct

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
24 f
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
United Environment & Energy Llc
111 Ridge Road, Horseheads, NY, 14845-1507
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Ben Wen
(607) 796-0830
Business Contact:
Peng Zhang
(607) 796-0830
Research Institution:

5,790 million metric tons of CO2 were emitted from fossil fuels in the U.S. in 2008. A beneficial, practical application of captured CO2 would bring significant economic and environmental benefits to CO2 generating industries. Meanwhile, biodiesel production yields around 10 weight % of byproduct glycerol. 230,000 tons of crude glycerol were produced in 2008, and 986,000 tons of glycerol are expected in 2018. With the rapid increases in crude glycerol generation from biodiesel plants, glycerol has become a waste stream and a financial and environmental liability to the biodiesel producers. To advance the production of biodiesel and realize the biodiesel economy, advanced development and commercialization of innovative technologies for the conversion of crude glycerol into value-added products is imperative. This proposed project concerns a novel and beneficial CO2 and crude glycerol application technology. In the presence of a low cost and highly active catalyst, greenhouse gas CO2 reacts with crude glycerol, a biodiesel plant waste, to produce a bio-based high value renewable industrial product glycerol carbonate. In Phase I, glycerol carbonate was successfully prepared from CO2 and glycerol under different reaction conditions and using different raw material sources, and the optimal operating conditions were determined. The technical feasibility of this technology has been successfully established. An economic analysis was conducted and demonstrated the economic viability of this technology. The overall objectives of Phase II are to bring this proven and viable CO2 based glycerol carbonate production technology from a laboratory scale to a pilot scale process, produce glycerol carbonate using crude glycerol from different biodiesel plants, and evaluate coal-fired power plant flue gas as a CO2 source for glycerol carbonate production. The success of this project will bring a one-step, environmentally friendly, cost-effective, energy-efficient, and easy to operate CO2 based renewable glycerol carbonate production technology into commercialization. This technology can be easily scaled up and will have substantial environmental, economic, and energy benefits. An efficient transformation of CO2 and crude glycerol into a high value chemical is of significant importance for resource utilization and pollution prevention. It will offset the biodiesel production cost and CO2 capture cost and play an important role in the advancement of the integrated biorefinery concept for biofuel and renewable chemical production concurrent with CO2 emissions reduction, leading to substantial cost savings and environmental benefits. The success of this technology will have significant implications for biodiesel plants, industrial sectors with CO2 emissions, and glycerol carbonate producers and users.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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