Glycerol steam reforming over Ni-Re/α-Al2O3 catalysts

Marcin CICHY*, Tadeusz BOROWIECKI – Department of Chemical Technology, Faculty of Chemistry, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland
Please cite as: CHEMIK 2016, 70, 5, 261–269

High growth of fossil fuels prices and tighten environmental requirements, which restricts emissions of the contaminants released to the atmosphere affected on increase of the share of energy possessed from renewable sources, including biomass. One of the most popular ways of processing vegetable oils is their transesterification, which leads to obtaining so called biodiesel. This process gives, beside the main product, technological waste, which is glycerol fraction. This waste contains up to 80% of glycerol and constitute average ~10 wt. % of produced esters. In the European Union, biodiesel use is projected to increase from 12.7 bln L in 2014 to its highest level of almost 14.8 bln L in 2020 and world biodiesel production is expected to grow up to ~38 bln L in 2024 (Fig. 1) [1]. This means significant increase of biodiesel production concluding in rising problems related to utilization of the glycerol waste fraction.

Beside already known applications of glycerol in pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics and tobacco industry or explosives materials, scientists began to propose new processes having their purposes in fitting up this waste (e.g. receiving such chemicals as dihydroxyacetone [2, 3], 1,3-propanediol [4-6], glycerol ethers [7, 8] and glycerol esters [9, 10]). As a result of dehydration can be obtained acrolein, which is an important chemical compound used for the production of acrylic acid [11]. Glycerol can be used as a biocomponent to engine fuels and even can be burned as a fuel. Wide information about classical and novel glycerol phase utilization processes can be found in reviews [e.g. 12, 13].

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