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The Linde Group Develops Process to Produce Hydrogen from Glycerine; Demonstration Plant Due in Mid-2010

The Linde Group has developed a new process for the production of hydrogen from biogenic raw materials. Hydromotive GmbH, a subsidiary of The Linde Group, will build a demonstration plant from mid-2009 at its chemical site in Leuna, Germany, which will produce hydrogen from glycerol (also called glycerine). Glycerol is a by-product of biodiesel production.

The plant, which will reprocess, pyrolyze and reform raw glycerine and will come on stream in mid-2010, will produce a hydrogen-rich gas, which will be fed into the existing Leuna II hydrogen plant for the purification and liquefaction of the hydrogen. The liquefied hydrogen produced there will initially be used in German centers such as Berlin and Hamburg where hydrogen is being employed as a fuel.

Glycerol is the backbone of triglycerides, and is a 10% by-product of the transesterification of fatty acids that produces biodiesel. There is now an excess of crude glycerol on the market as a result of biodiesel production.

Glycerol (C3H5(OH)3) has high hydrogen content and is suited for the production of hydrogen. The potential benefit of biomass (per hectare) is exploited to an even greater extent by the conversion of glycerine into hydrogen for the production of fuel.

Researchers have investigated a number of different pathways for the production of hydrogen from glycerol, including:

  • Low-temperature pyrolysis (400 to 600 °C) to produce liquid products;

  • High-temperature pyrolysis (>750 °C) to produce gaseous products;

  • Steam gasification to produce syngas (CO and H2);

  • Aqueous-phase reforming.

Promising opportunities for the sustainable cost-effective production of hydrogen are presented by the use of biogenic raw materials. With this innovative patented process, we have taken yet another step towards low-emission energy supply using hydrogen.

—Dr Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG

As the world’s largest manufacturer of hydrogen plants, Linde has access to the full range of technology required for the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier—from production to filling. Linde’s hydrogen filling technology is available in more than in 15 countries.




"Steam gasification to produce syngas (CO and H2)"

That is the idea, from there they can go several directions. Even if they just make H2 from the products of bio diesel manufacturing and use that H2 to crack petrochemicals, it would save natural gas.


Though it's better to use biomass instead of fossils to produce syngass, it's still a small sin to use a pure chemical (glycerin) to produce syngas. Syngas can be made out of any carbon waste (manure, municipal waste, old shoes, any biomass, ...).


I agree, but what are you going to do with the excess glycerine? You could make antifreeze out of it, but that might not take up all that you have after lots of bio diesel. Waste not...want not.


1. glycerine -> epichlorhydrin -> epoxy resins
2. use epoxy resins for rotor blades for wind turbines.
3. use the wind turbines to produce H2

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