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Should Traditional Petrochemical Feedstocks be Replaced by Glycerin?

The biodiesel pattern has prompted an excess of modest glycerin. Growing environmental issues and increasingly stringent environmental pollution control legislation have led researchers to look for creative and commercially viable alternative raw materials to be used in the industrial and energy production sectors.

One of these alternative renewable fuels is known to be fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) obtained from vegetable oils and fats. FAME was originally developed for use as an intermediate feedstock for the production of natural detergent (fatty alcohol) but has been increasingly used since the implementation of the European Biofuels Directive in 2001 as a fuel blending component or as a diesel substitute (i.e. biodiesel). This accelerated the production of biodiesel because in turn a by-product named glycerine/glycerol was made.

Glycerin is an inexpensive substitute raw material, but some traditional synthetic pathways are now successful. As glycerin prices fell and petrochemical commodity prices grew in line with crude oil prices during the 2000-2010 period, attempts were undertaken to try to leverage on and use cheap glycerine as an alternative for petrochemical feedstock. Estimates of selected products that can be generated through glycerine and synthetic routes are in the following points i.e. crude oil or gas.

Propylene Glycol

The price of propylene glycol from glycerine is projected to be as high as $700 per ton compared to the standard manufactured process carried from propylene oxide. The course is additional business, with plants as extensive as 100,000 tons each year (ADM in the U.S.) as yet working. In this manner despite the fact that no doubt the glycerine course is winning regarding the creation cost, the fact of the matter is a long way from this with the majority of the propylene glycol created on the planet being from the engineered course.

The explanation is that there is an enormous limit with regards to the creation of propylene oxide as a co-item which incorporates the PO/TBA (propylene oxide/ter-butyl liquor) course and the POSM (Propylene oxide styrene monomer) courses. Both engineered courses produce TBA and styrene co-items individually.

TBA is commonly incorporated into an MTBE plant for fuel oxygenate while styrene is normally incorporated into polystyrene plants which is a high-volume product plastic.

In this way for these engineered course plants, there are as of now some cost reserve funds that will be caught inside the edifices creating two unique items that are not completely reflected in the money cost that appeared above (PO cost in this computation depends on market esteem). As propylene oxide is a perilous item to move, engineered course makers that have propylene oxide as a co-item will in general use it on location and convert it into other higher-worth synthetics, for example, propylene glycol.

1,3-Propanediol and Crude Acrylic Acid

The production of 1,3-Propanediol (1,3-PDO) on the other hand, obviously reflects the money-related focal points of the glycerine paths over the nonexclusive produced route. Shell worked the last known ethylene oxide-based manufactured course however left the PDO business totally during the 2000s.

Today 1,3-PDO is delivered solely from bio-based crude materials, for example, corn syrup and glycerine because of the greater expenses associated with the engineered course.

A similar rationale applies to the creation of unrefined acrylic acid whereby the synthetic route presently has a lower creation cost than that by means of the glycerine course, with all business creation of acrylic acid being produced using propylene oxidation.


After all, for epichlorohydrin, both glycerine and processed paths are on average as far as production costs are concerned. Moreover, the upside of being less earth-pollutive for the glycerine route has made it especially appealing in locales where there are exacting ecological guidelines.

In China, for instance, there is right now a huge interest in glycerine for the creation of epichlorohydrin as the public authority started its cross-country cleaning exertion and closing down dirtying plants that are either old or utilizing innovation that utilizes unsafe synthetic substances (the compound course for epichlorohydrin utilizes chlorine as one of its key crude materials).

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