Conversion of Glycerol to Gasoline Additive

Michio Ikura


Glycerol conversion, vapour phase etherification, gasoline additive


During the production of bio-diesel from triglycerides such as vegetable oil and animal fat, approximately 90 wt% of the feed is converted to methyl-esters (biodiesel) whereas 10wt becomes glycerol. An excessive supply of glycerol has been problematic; it has depressed the glycerol market. Glycerol does not boil readily. Although it boils in the diesel fuel range, it does not mix with diesel fuel. In this paper, a new process to convert relatively non-volatile glycerol to volatile oxygenates, i.e., gasoline additive, is presented. The product contains mainly ethers, esters and cyclic oxygenates of low boiling points. This was achieved by reacting glycerol with ethanol over superacid under vacuum and elevated temperature. GC/MS indicated that the products were mostly ethers and esters but some are aromatics and organic acids. ‘As produced’ liquid contained substantial water produced. The liquid was distilled after water removal by pervapourization. Distillation of the water-free product confirmed that more than 90 wt% boils in the gasoline (IBP-165°C) range.

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