University of Manchester improve biodiesel manufacture

12 Oct 2015

The University of Manchester and The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) have collaborated as part of an InnovateUK IB Catalyst Early Stage feasibility project.

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Succinic Acid is a 4‑Carbon platform chemical that can be used for the manufacture of a range of bio-chemicals as well as bio-plastics. Currently, Succinic Acid is manufactured from fossil oil and more recently production of Bio-Succinic Acid has been demonstrated by fermentation of sugar, at commercial scale.

The project will investigate the feasibility for producing Succinic Acid from a low cost industrial waste stream, glycerol, which is a byproduct of the production of biodiesel transport fuel. Waste glycerol currently has limited market application and is commonly disposed of by converting to energy through anaerobic digestion. The project has potential to maximise the value of glycerol by converting it to higher value products suitable for the chemical industry.

The 12 month project, led by the University of Manchester, intends to scale-up the technology at CPI and investigate feasibility of a viable downstream process to meet an industry expectation for product quality. The project therefore has potential to demonstrate a route to Bio-Succinic Acid, which has a number of benefits, including product price competitiveness and vastly improving the economic proposition for UK biodiesel manufacture.

A combination of experimental methods at a range of scales, computational tools, and market analysis will be employed in order to: prove the feasibility of the downstream process, benchmark the succinic acid product against market standards and optimise the scale up of the fermentation process.

The consortium includes a third partner, Chemoxy International, who is one of Europe’s largest independent contract manufacturers with a diverse range of industries including speciality chemicals such as di-basic acids. Chemoxy will provide guidance around product specification against market value and access to the Chemical industry for sale of Bio-Succinic Acid product

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