Application of Metal Catalysts for High Selectivity of Glycerol Conversion to Alcohols
Converting the surplus, low quality glycerol (a byproduct from biodiesel production) to primary alcohol remains a hot topic in both the industry and research communities. Our on-going research, "Thermal Processing of Low-grade Glycerol to Alcohols for Biodiesel Production," is being actively conducted and has shown promising progress. Improving efficiency of the glycerol process becomes a logical next step. Metal-based catalysts have been proven effective in increasing the selectivity and productivity of targeted products in similar processes. In this project, our objective is to determine the applicability of metal-based catalysts and optimize the corresponding process conditions for producing primary alcohols with high selectivity from the glycerol originated from biodiesel production.
This applied research will focus on the production of monohydric alcohols such as methanol, ethanol, and propanol from glycerol. Metal-based catalysts will be studied for their activity and selectivity. A pressure reactor system will be used to identify the major process parameters and evaluate the effects of these parameters on the yield of primary alcohols.
The outcome of this project will contribute to a better understanding and improvement of the process towards a more viable technology. It will also provide great opportunities to train undergraduate and graduate students for the expanding biofuel industry.