30 June 2008 23:53 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Chemical engineers at Rice University in Houston have developed a way to turn crude glycerine into more valuable organic acids, the school said on Monday.
The engineers developed a fermentation process that uses E. coli and other bacteria to turn crude glycerine into succinates and other organic acids, the university said in a statement.
Succinates are used to make non-corrosive airport de-icers, nontoxic solvents, drugs and food additives. Most are made from non-renewable fossil fuels, said lead researcher Ramon Gonzalez.
“Biodiesel producers used to sell their leftover glycerine, but the rapid increase in biodiesel production has left them paying to get rid of it. The new metabolic pathways we have uncovered pave the way for the development of new technologies for converting this waste product into high-value chemicals,” Gonzalez said.
Technology derived from the research has been licensed to Houston-based start-up Glycos Biotechnologies, which helped fund the project. The company plants to open its first demonstration facility within the next year, according to the university.
Most biodiesel refineries sell their crude glycerine on the open market, where buyers refine it and use it in manufacturing thousands of products, including soap. Some newer biodiesel plants can refine their own glycerine.
Crude glycerine was assessed at 10-20 cents/lb on Wednesday, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.
For more information on glycerine and biodiesel, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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