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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Glycerin, biodiesel byproduct, makes propylene glycol

Galen Suppes, an MU chemical engineering professor and chief science officer of the MU-based Renewable Alternatives, has developed a process for converting glycerin, a byproduct of the biodiesel production process, into propylene glycol. Propylene glycol can be used as nontoxic antifreeze for automobiles. Currently, ethylene glycol is prominently used in vehicular antifreeze and is both toxic and made from petroleum. Suppes said the new propylene glycol product will meet every performance standard, is made from domestic soybeans and is nontoxic. While other research groups are involved in this topic, Suppes said his process works at a lower pressure and temperature than the other groups, and this process creates a higher yield.

Suppes said this technology can reduce the cost of biodiesel production by as much as $0.40 per gallon of biodiesel. The market for propylene glycol already is established, with a billion pounds produced a year.

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