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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 petroleum-derived chemicals. © 2007 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 26: 338–348, 2007