Research that looks to overcome roadblocks to innovative uses for the biodiesel by-product, glycerin, has been honored. The National Biodiesel Board and the American Cleaning Institute presented their 2014 Glycerine Innovation Award at the American Oil Chemists’ Society’s annual meeting.
The 2014 honoree is Dr. Xiaofei “Philip” Ye, Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science. The ACI/NBB Glycerine Innovation Award recognizes outstanding achievement for research into new applications for glycerine, with particular emphasis on commercial viability.
Dr. Ye undertook his research in response to the rapid growth of the biodiesel industry worldwide resulting in the production of large amounts of glycerine, creating an urgent need to quickly and effectively convert crude glycerine into value-added chemical products.
While three major commodity chemicals can be derived from glycerine – acrylic acid, lactic acid, and propylene glycol, which serve as building blocks for environmentally friendly plastics and polymers, there have been “bottleneck problems” hindering the industrial production of these chemicals from glycerine. Dr. Ye’s research focuses on innovative technology development to overcome these problems, while his modeling showed economic promise for the commercial production of value-added chemicals from glycerine.