Researchers in the United Kingdom have found a way to recycle a biodiesel by-product back into a catalyst to make the green fuel. This article from Cardiff University says its scientists turned glycerol into methanol.
To achieve this, the researchers reacted glycerol with water, to provide the element hydrogen, and a magnesium oxide (MgO) catalyst. The reaction involved a simple one-step process and could be performed using mild conditions.
Using the recycled methanol, the researchers estimate up to a 10 per cent increase in biodiesel production, which they claim would be very helpful to industry at this point in time.
The work is currently in its early stages and in future studies the researchers will look to optimise the design of the catalyst and significantly increase its activity and selectivity.
Lead author of the study Professor Graham Hutchings, Director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, said: “Biodiesel manufacture is a growing part of the EU fuel pool, with statutory amounts being required to be added to diesel that is derived from fossil fuels.
“We’ve provided unprecedented chemistry that highlights the potential to manufacture biodiesel in a much more environmentally friendly, and potentially cheaper, way, by converting an undesired by-product into a valuable chemical that can be reused in the process.”