At present, due to the rapid development of the global biodiesel industry, the main by-product glycerol is produced abundantly (0.1 Kg of glycerol per 1 Kg of biodiesel production), leading to its market price falling sharply. Therefore, it is imperative to develop new applications of glycerol to value-added chemicals and biofuels.
Compared with biological conversion with typical drawbacks (e.g., difficult control of production conditions, complex separation steps, and low productive efficiency), hydrothermal process carried out in subcritical water or supercritical water is an effective and attractive thermochemical method for the conversion of biomass. A variety of high value products such as acrolein, acrylic acid, lactic acid and hydrogen etc. are obtained from hydrothermal conversion of glycerol.
The work entitled “Hydrothermal conversion of glycerol to chemicals and hydrogen: review and perspective” authored by PhD Student Mr. Yunduo Long and his supervisor Prof. Zhen Fangh was published on-line in Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining-Biofpr (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bbb.1345/abstract). Based on their previous achievements, Mr. Long and Prof. Fang systematically introduced hydrothermal conversion of glycerol to chemicals and biofuel, and elucidated the reaction mechanisms under different conditions in this review paper. In addition, new ways and future perspective of hydrothermal processing of glycerol for industrial applications were discussed and proposed.