by Sean Brady and Kawai Tam
Coauthors: Gregory Leung, Christopher Salam
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
University of California, Riverside
Biodiesel is a popular and advanced alternative fuel. From 2nd generation feedstock, it is carbon neutral, has emissions 85% below gasoline over-all, it is biodegradable, non-toxic and is signiﬁcantly cheaper to manufacture than its petroleum equivalent. However, for every 10 gallons of biodiesel produced, roughly 1 gallon of glycerin is created as a byproduct. Although glycerin does have its industrial uses, current biodiesel production has already exceeded market demand, leaving large amounts of practically worthless glycerin in the manufacturers’ hands, leading to increased disposal costs.
We show that by combining waste glycerin with waste biomass (tree trimmings, corn husks, wheat chafe, etc.), we are able to produce pellets which can be easily and inexpensively manufactured, are suitable for existing combustion energy plants and are a superior alternative to coal. We ultimately found a way to absorb two waste streams, thereby enabling biodiesel production, by creating a product which could reduce the coal dependence in the world.