Biodiesel becomes even more eco-friendly with recycled reactants

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Cardiff University has devised a system which exploits waste produced by biofuel production.

100% eco-friendly. This is the innovative solution devised by researchers of Cardiff University, who found a way to increase the biodiesel production using waste generated by the production process. The results of the research were published by Nature Chemistry.

Using simple catalysts, the scientists were able to recycle an unwanted by-product, which occurs when biodiesel is made of vegetable oils, and convert it into an ingredient to produce even more biofuel.

The academic world believes that this new process will produce significant environmental benefits by improving the production of biodiesel in a sustainable manner, without the addition of fossil fuels, and with lower costs.

Currently, the biofuel is produced by combining fats and oils with methanol, which typically comes from fossil fuels. Waste from this process is raw glycerol, which is formed on a large scale and contains many impurities that lead to higher costs when refined for other uses.

In their study, the researchers developed a system to transform raw glycerol into methanol, which could be used as a reagent to obtain other biodiesel.

To achieve this result, scientists made glycerol react with water and a catalyst of magnesium oxide.

With recycled methanol, the researchers estimate an increase of up to 10 percent in the production of biofuel.

“The production of biodiesel is growing in the European fuel market – explained Graham Hutchings, author of the study and director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute – We tried a chemical process that highlights the potential of getting more biofuel in a more sustainable way and with lower costs”.

“The research could revolutionize the way we consider waste – adds Stuart Taylor, another author of the study – and significantly improve the quality of life by reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels and encouraging the efficient use of resources”.

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