Biodiesel byproduct rejuvenated into plastic feedstock

A sustainable method to synthesise platform chemical lactic acid from waste glycerol, a byproduct of biodiesel production, has emerged from research in Switzerland.

Collaboration between the advanced catalysis engineering and the safety and environmental technology groups at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, headed by Javier Pérez-Ramírez and Konrad Hungerbuehler, respectively, gave way to the new cascade process.

Glycerol is first oxidised to give dihydroxyacetone through an established enzymatic process. Dihydroxyacetone is then isomerised over a tin-containing zeolite catalyst, which was designed by ETH Zurich team, to give lactic acid.»