Partners Debut Method For Purifying Glycerin | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: February 6, 2008

Partners Debut Method For Purifying Glycerin

Technique is expected to open markets for biodiesel by-product
Department: Business, Science & Technology | Collection: Sustainability

Rohm and Haas and France's Groupe Novasep have formed a global partnership to market a new technology for purifying crude glycerin made as a by-product during biodiesel production. The technology combines Rohm and Haas's expertise in specialty polymer resins and Novasep's capabilities in chromatographic separations.

Demand for refined glycerin is considered to be growing for applications such as personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverages. The purified product can be used in a wider range of applications, the partners note.

Every time vegetable oil and alcohol are reacted to form a gallon of biodiesel, roughly three-quarters of a pound of glycerin is generated. The crude glycerin generally contains high levels of residual catalyst salts as well as other impurities. According to the partners, costly distillation methods are often used for purification.

"The availability of crude glycerin has increased exponentially with the rapid growth of the biodiesel industry, and we hope this will be a welcome solution to reduce costs for biodiesel producers, glycerin refiners, and processors," says Kim Ann Mink, Rohm and Haas's vice president and global general manager for ion-exchange resins.

The National Biodiesel Board estimates that 450 million gal of biodiesel was sold in 2007. Production capacity already totals about 2.2 billion gal and is expected to grow more than 50% within about 18 months.

The partners believe their new Ambersep BD50 technology will offer a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative for purifying glycerin. For making biodiesel, Rohm and Haas also provides a polymer-based purification process and a solid-catalyst technology for fatty acid esterification.

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