The next few years, European markets will be swamped with glycerine, as biodiesel production from vegetable oils or animal fats accelerates. Europe aims to run cars on petrol and diesel produced at a minimum of 5.75% from biofuels by the year 2010.
The surplus of glycerin supply on the European market will not only significantly reduce its price, but is also indicative of increased efforts to recycle the stuff into biofuel. That is the conclusion of academic investigations by University Rey Juan Carlos’ research group.
The research, led by Juan Antonio Melero, points out that currently, glycerin is quite a costly energy source. But they show just how market mechanics can change this process around. Due to the sheer mandatory increase in supply, its production will soon start to exceed the current demand for the stuff. That will lead to lower prices.
At the moment, glycerin is only demanded in bulk by the pharmaceutical industry, which uses it for the synthesis of products.
The researchers, who published a research document entitled [i]Transformation of Glycerine in Biodiesel[/i], say that during 2005, a 65% increase in manufactured glycerine compared to the year before, is clear evidence of this cost reduction trend. They point out that according to numbers from the European Biodiesel Board, over three million tons of biodiesel were produced in 2005. And in In 2006, production reached five million tons, representing a 54% rise from the previous year.
The trend will continue, the researchers predict, “with a yearly production of 10 million tons of biodiesel expected by 2010; around a million ton of glycerin”. This underscores the importance of finding new applications for this by-product.
Melero and his staff have researched the transformation of glycerin into products that could partially replace diesel in a cost-competitive manner. They say that one added advantage that glycerin ethers offers is that it improves a low temperature response. This means that viscosity and contaminant emissions of the diesel are reduced.