Use of the Glycerin By-product from Biodiesel Production for Power Generation

[+] Author and Article Information
Derek Pickett

University of Kansas, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 3138 Learned Hall, 1530 W. 15th St, Lawrence, KS 66045, United States

Chris Depcik

ASME Member, University of Kansas, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 3144C Learned Hall, 1530 W. 15th St, Lawrence, KS 66045, United States

Susan M. Stagg-Williams

University of Kansas, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, 4142 Learned Hall, 1530 W. 15th St, Lawrence, KS 66045, United States

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039819 History: Received April 28, 2017; Revised March 19, 2018


Climate change is driving the world to investigate alternative sources of fuel. In order to address any potential economic shortfalls to biodiesel, one can look to its by-product, glycerin, as a potential revenue source. At the University of Kansas, a novel system converts glycerin over a nickel-alumina catalyst into a hydrogen-rich gas (syngas) that is sent to an engine-generator system in one continuous flow process. This effort describes the hardware employed in this system, and demonstrates the production of power from the reforming of glycerin. Comparison of the peak combustion pressure and combustion timing produced between the syngas generated from glycerin and propane combustion shows virtually no performance differences between the two fuels. However, emissions vary significantly due to a variance in air-to-fuel ratios between the two fuels that will require a system re-optimization when running glycerin. This system has the potential to reduce power requirements at biodiesel production facilities by utilizing glycerin on-site in a low-cost manner and an energy balance is presented investigating this possibility.

Copyright (c) 2018 by ASME
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