(583fo) Heterogeneous Catalysis of Glycerol to Propylene Glycol Over Copper Chromite

Dufreche, S., University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Sovine, S. D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Zappi, M. E., University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Bajpai, R., University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The conversion of glycerol to value-added products has received increased attention in recent years due to a combination of decreased market price, supply glut, and higher demand for possible products. A broader understanding of how hydrogenolysis catalysts perform could help convert a cheap feedstock into value-added chemicals.  A crystalline copper-chromite catalyst was used to study conversion of glycerol into propylene glycol (PG).  In collaboration with Terra Bio-Chem, a start-up company in the Gulf Coast area, research was performed on the effects of base and buffers with respect to the catalyst lifespan and production of propylene glycol.  Higher acidity environments cause a decrease in the catalyst lifespan due to deactivation. Effects on the various buffer to base ratios and flow rates showed that the addition of minimal base with organic buffers, while maintaining moderate residence time, would allow a higher production of PG and lower acid numbers. The addition of buffers allows for better process economics stemming from a reduction in catalyst replacements due to extended the lifetime.