A Commercial Demonstration of Biorefinery of Lipids---- Coproduction of Biodiesel and 1,3-propanediol
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Exhibit/Poster Hall, lower level (Hilton Clearwater Beach)
Dehua Liu, Chemical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
Lipase-catalyzed transesterification (also esterification) from oils or fats for biodiesel production has some advantages over chemical-catalyzed transesterification, such as environmental friendship, lower energy consumption,widely suitable for low quality vegetable oils. However, the low stability of the lipase due to alcohol has been being regarded as the main hurdle to the industrialization of lipase-catalyzed biodiesel production. Tsinghua University has developed a novel process to eliminate the inhibition of methanol on lipase, thus the operational life of the lipase could be improved into more than 300 cycles from several (1-5) cycles while traditional process applied. The patented novel process was successfully demonstrated in a pilot plant (200kg/day) and commercial plant (30,000ton/year) in China. It has also been being demonstrated in a pilot-plan in Brazil. 

As a by-product, glycerol will be yielded at about 10% of biodiesel during the process of biodiesel production. More and more concerns were pay on how to utilize crude glycerol. It could be a promising way to produce 1,3-propanediol (PDO) by fermentation with crude glycerol as feedstock. PDO is a valuable monomer to synthesize polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT). PTT has excellent properties for textile fibre or plastic, and it was found to have some better properties than other polyesters such as PET, PBT. Tsinghua University has developed a novel flexible process for PDO production by fermentation from glycerol or glucose, and is was successfully demonstrated in a pilot plant. A facility with capacity of 20,000 tons/year PDO is being constructed in China.