Glycerol as a source for fuels and chemicals by low-temperature catalytic processing

FUEL 121

Dante A. Simonetti, dasimonetti@wisc.edu1, Ricardo R. Soares, rrasoares@ufu.br2, and James A. Dumesic1. (1) Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin, 1415 Engineering Drive, Madison, WI 53706, (2) Faculdade de Engenharia Química, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Av. João Naves de Ávila 2121, Uberlândia, Brazil
We show that liquid fuels and chemicals can be produced from glycerol via a two-step process that involves the catalytic conversion of glycerol to H2 and CO combined with the subsequent Fischer-Tropsch or methanol synthesis. Gas mixtures of H2 and CO can be produced at high rates and selectivities from glycerol over platinum-based bi-metallic catalysts at temperatures (e.g., 500-620 K) that are significantly lower compared to conventional gasification of biomass. This new low-temperature catalytic process can be used to produce fuels and chemicals from waste glycerol streams currently generated as a by-product from the production of biodiesel. In addition, this two-step process serves as an energy-efficient alternative to processes used to convert starch-based materials to fuel-grade ethanol, because glycerol can be produced in high concentration (e.g., 30 wt%) by fermentation of glucose. Accordingly, this process opens new pathways to more effectively utilize renewable biomass resources to provide liquid fuels and chemical intermediates.