Biodiesel Byproduct to Help Grow Feed Supplement

John Davis

With margins for biodiesel production getting tighter and tighter, it’s more important than ever to get every dollar you can out of refining the green fuel. That’s why some researchers are looking for a new use for one of the byproducts of biodiesel.

This story from says the Ohio State University Department of Animal Science has received a $38,733 one-year grant from the Ohio Soybean Council to use crude glycerol to grow yeast to serve as feed supplement for dairy cattle:

“The idea behind the project is to take what is considered a waste product and turn it into a value-added agricultural commodity,” said Zhongtang Yu, a microbiologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and principal investigator of the project.

Approximately 1.1 million tons of crude glycerol is produced annually from production of biodiesel, mainly soy-based. The crude glycerol has little market value because of its impurities. In some cases, the glycerol is refined and used in a variety of skin care and cosmetic products. However, with biodiesel production increasing, finding a market for glycerol is becoming increasingly difficult. Yu speculated that the byproduct could be used as a food substitute for yeast microbes.

“Crude glycerol is unrefined, yet microbes like yeast don’t care about the impurities,” said Yu. “We wanted to see if we could use the glycerol as feed to grow yeast and then use that yeast in dairy cattle diets.”

Yu says the biggest challenge will be finding a yeast that will grow in glycerol.