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PhD ceremony Mr. J.G. van Bennekom: Glycerol reforming and methanol synthesis for the production of renewable methanol

When:Fr 15-03-2013 at 16:15

PhD ceremony: Mr. J.G. van Bennekom, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Glycerol reforming and methanol synthesis for the production of renewable methanol

Promotor(s): prof. H.J. Heeres

Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Biodiesel production has grown exponentially in the beginning of the 21th century. During production about 10 kg of glycerol is formed for every 100 kg of biodiesel, which led to an increased glycerol supply. An option is the production of green methanol from glycerol, which can be reused in the biodiesel production process.

In this research study, glycerol is gasified in supercritical water to a gas containing H2, CO, CO2, CH4, and higher hydrocarbons (C2H4, C2H6, C3H6 en C3H8). The gas composition is a function of the process conditions and the presence of a catalyst. Catalysts were used in the gasification process to improve the quality of the gas for methanol synthesis. In gasification in supercritical water, a gas becomes available at high pressure (> 221 bar) and can directly be converted to methanol.

In the first methanol synthesis experiments the formation of a liquid was observed at high pressure and low temperature (200 oC). This has positive consequences for methanol synthesis as more methanol can be produced, which was confirmed by an extensive experimental program. Finally, the conversion of glycerol to methanol was demonstrated by the integration of the two processes, resulting in the production of 0.61 kg methanol from 1 kg glycerol.

The work performed has been of great value in quantifying the potential for the conversion of glycerol to methanol. It identifies key phenomena, experimental results, and conclusions which may provide a firm basis, or simply inspiration for others who are drawn to this field of investigation.