Glycerine could enter engine anti-freeze market – US suppliers

19 May 2010 20:36  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--One potential new use for glycerine could be in the engine anti-freeze market, US suppliers said on Wednesday.

An industry consultant had said on Tuesday that glycerine would need to have new uses given growing supply to help lift prices from current historical lows.

Supply of glycerine, a by-product of biodiesel, had been growing with the advent of biodiesel production in Europe, the US, South America and Southeast Asia, creating strong downward pressure on prices.

To potentially counter excess supply, US glycerine suppliers said they believed ASTM, the group responsible for setting industrial standards, was close to approving the use of refined glycerine in the engine anti-freeze market.

Acceptance into that market would boost demand considerably, glycerine sources said.

But the extra sales might not result in higher glycerine prices if the biodiesel industry shakes off its current slumber and floods the market with more crude glycerine if a renewable fuel mandate begins as scheduled in July, a producer said.

"By wintertime we could see more glycerine in new markets," a producer said. "It will keep glycerine prices stable as the biodiesel ramp-up brings new crude supply."

Glycerine prices had declined by 67% from 15 years ago, mostly because of biodiesel, said Darol Brown, US head of consulting firm HBI, at the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) annual meeting on Tuesday.

Among the potential new uses of glycerine suggested by researchers at the AOCS meeting included the production of hydrogen from glycerol, developed by Auburn University in Alabama.

Glycerine could also be fermented to produce 1,2 propanediol, succinic acid and lactic acid, according to researchers at Houston-based Rice University.

US consumer goods producer Procter & Gamble, meanwhile, noted that a catalytic conversion of glycerine could be done to produce amino alcohol 2-amino-1-propanol (2AP).

In addition, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology indicated that a development of microbial production of glyceric acid from crude glycerine could be pursued, with the acid to be used as a functional modifier for polylactic acid plastics.

Global refined glycerine production was expected to grow 11.9% in 2010 to 2.44m tonnes, Brown said.

Additional reporting by Doris de Guzman and Ben DuBose

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By: Ben Lefebvre
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