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International Journal of Chemical Reactor Engineering

Ed. by de Lasa, Hugo / Xu, Charles Chunbao

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Volume 14, Issue 6

Thermodynamic Analysis of Ethanol Synthesis from Glycerol by Two-Step Reactor Sequence

Erick A. Mendoza-Chávez
  • Facultad de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
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/ Nancy E. Rodríguez-Olalde
  • Facultad de Ingeniería y Tecnología de la Madera, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
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/ Rafael Maya-Yescas
  • Facultad de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
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/ Jesús Campos-García
  • Instituto de Investigaciones Químico-Biológicas. Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Ciudad Universitaria, 58030, Morelia, Michoacán, México
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/ Jaime Saucedo-Luna
  • Facultad de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
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/ Agustín J. Castro-Montoya
  • Corresponding author
  • Facultad de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
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Published Online: 2016-11-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijcre-2015-0168


  • Glycerol was dry-reformed to syngas and sequentially utilized for ethanol synthesis

  • Adding CO2 to the glycerol dry reforming reactor was advantageous for ethanol synthesis

  • Maximum yield was 1 mole ethanol per mole glycerol at CO2/glycerol ratio≥2

  • ethanol synthesis from syngas was dependent on the temperature and CO2/glycerol ratio

  • Wasted glycerol from biodiesel-manufacturing is suitable for syngas/ethanol production


Conversion of biomass-derived syngas to ethanol has recently received significant attention because of strong demands for alternative and renewable energy sources; therefore glycerol has been suggested as promising raw material for obtaining ethanol in two consecutive steps. In this work, a thermodynamic study of glycerol dry reforming to produce syngas and subsequent ethanol production, as two-step process, was evaluated by means of the method of Gibbs free energy minimization. The effect of parameters such as reaction temperature, CO2/glycerol ratio (CGR), and pressure (P) on system performance was investigated. Reactions were simulated between 700–1,500 K and CGR range of 0–5, at 1 atm pressure. Calculations were performed with Aspen Plus 8.4, using Peng–Robinson thermodynamic method for properties estimation. Optimum conditions for syngas and ethanol production were determined, in order to prevent carbon deposition and methane formation. At temperatures above 900 K and CGR<1, between 3 and 7 mole of H2/mole of glycerol can be generated. Results indicated that the addition of CO2 to the glycerol dry reforming reactor favored syngas and ethanol synthesis. The maximum yield obtained was 1 mole of ethanol per mole of glycerol at CGR≥2. Simulations indicate that temperature and CGR are essential factors for determining the process efficiency of the production of ethanol from syngas. These results suggest that glycerol wasted from biodiesel manufacturing should be useful as efficient raw material for syngas and ethanol production.

Keywords: biofuels; biomass; glycerol dry reforming; ethanol; syngas; thermodynamics


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-11-04

Published in Print: 2016-12-01

Funding Source: Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología

Award identifier / Grant number: 266629

Award identifier / Grant number: 266583

This study was funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT), EAM-C and NEM-O thank grants 266629 and 266583 (CONACyT), respectively for postgraduate studies.

Citation Information: International Journal of Chemical Reactor Engineering, Volume 14, Issue 6, Pages 1169–1176, ISSN (Online) 1542-6580, ISSN (Print) 2194-5748, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijcre-2015-0168.

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