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The Glycerin Glut: Options for the Value-Added Conversion of Crude Glycerol Resulting from Biodiesel Production


Dramatic increases in the price of crude oil, and consequently,
transportation fuels, coupled with increased environmental concerns have
resulted in rapid growth in biodiesel production, both in the United
States and worldwide. As biodiesel production increases, so does
production of the primary coproduct, glycerol. Since the existing
glycerol supply and demand market was tight, recent increases in
glycerol production from biodiesel refining has created a glut in the
glycerol market. As a result, the price of glycerol has fallen
significantly and biodiesel refiners are faced with limited options for
managing the glycerol by-product, which in the biodiesel industry, has
essentially become a waste stream. This article is a review of promising
options for both the catalytic and biological conversion of glycerol
into various value-added products, many of which are bio-based
alternatives to petroleumderived chemicals.