1,3-Propanediol from Crude Glycerol
As a result of the rapid increase in biodiesel production, there is excess supply of crude glycerol, a byproduct of the transesterification process. Prices are depressed and expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, making it a very good time to enter the glycerol market. The proposed design is for 1,3-propanediol from crude glycerol. The plant has a capacity of 100 MM lb/year and will be located in Southeast Asia. It has an estimated IRR of 16.76% and an NPV of $46,963,200. The process begins with an aerobic fermentation section, consisting of lab scale fermenters, seven seed fermenters, and 14 production fermenters. Klebsiella pneumoniae, a genetically engineered, PDO producing microbe is used. In order to produce polymer grade PDO, a separation section is needed following fermentation. Separation operations include filtration, ion exchange, evaporation, hydrogenation, and distillation. The final product is 99.98% pure, by mass.