A researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) has developed a process for converting glycerin, a byproduct of the biodiesel production process, into propylene glycol—a substance that 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.
Galen Suppes, an MU chemical engineering professor and chief science officer of the MU-based Renewable Alternatives, said his process works at a lower pressure and temperature than those being developed by other groups, and creates a higher yield.
Propylene glycol has a higher market price than glycerin, giving producers a larger potential revenue stream from biodiesel byproducts.
Right now, Renewable Alternatives is licensing this technology to three biodiesel plants, with a fourth one in the works. The National Science Foundation and Missouri Soybean Farmers are helping fund the research.