Production of glycerol polyalkylethers as biofuel components

Glycerol di- and triethers obtained from glycerol, a by-product in biofuels production from vegetable oils (fatty acid methyl esters), can be used not only as an additive to biofuels or diesel oils, but also to gasoline, increasing its octane number. The presence of glycerol polyalkylethers in biofuel influences effectiveness of hydrocarbon combustion, by reduction of emission of noxious substances into the atmosphere. These ethers have also a positive influence on physicochemical properties of biofuel, by reducing its viscosity and temperature of cloudiness.

Process description

Glycerol polyalkylethers are obtained in a reaction of glycerol with olefins contained in the isobutene fraction (containing ca. 60 % isobutene), performed in the presence of an acid heterogeneous catalysts, at 80–120 °C and under pressure of 10–20 · 105 Pa. The process is carried out in the fixed-bed reactor. The product contains also isobutene dimers (isooctenes), a full-value raw material to produce isooctane, which can be separated from the ethers with flash distillation.

Advantages of the technology offered

Glycerol polyalkylethers are a very valuable additive to biofuels used in self-ignition engines.

The developed technology allows to dispose of market surplus of glycerol, derived from transesterification of triglycerides contained in vegetable oils.

In the Institute of Biofuels and Renewable Energy there were performed physicochemical investigation of the biofuel (from industrial process of rape oil transesterification) modified with tert-butyl glycerol ethers. A significant reduction in cold filter plugging point, viscosity reduction and increased cetane number was recognized.


The glycerol ethers production proceeds in a column reactor with a catalyst bed, operating under pressure 10–20 · 105 Pa. Products can be separated by distillation in high-performance rectification columns.

The state of technology

The laboratory studies has been finished. The catalyst has been selected and the conditions to carry out the process have been established.


Patent No P-200 500 (2004) „Method to produce glycerin polyalkylethers”.

Patent No P-206 797 (2006) „Method to produce biofuel for self-ignition engines”.

Type of expected cooperation

Cooperation in research on a bigger scale and establishment of foundations to build a 1/4-technical installation. Assistance in the range of application research.


phone: + 48 22 568 20 21

Gliperol – a new biofuel

Product used directly as a biofuel or as a biocomponent for diesel fuel.

A brief description of the process

Gliperol is obtained in a cross-transesterification reaction between triacylglycerols of vegetable oils or fats and low-molecular-weight esters, e.g. methyl acetate, at temperature £ 110 °C, under normal pressure, except for the solvent recovery stage, which is performed under reduced pressure. It is a single-stage process, without the necessity to drain the glycerin fraction as a by-product.

Advantages of the technology offered

In the classical method to obtain fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), i.e. transesterification of triacylglycerols with methyl alcohol, the glycerin fraction emerges as a by-product, which must be purified and disposed of. In the proposed technology as a biofuel component is used glycerin in the form of ester derivative.

Production cost of the new biofuel is 30–35 % less than the cost to produce FAME and usage of glycerin as a biofuel component decreases ecological threat related to its purification and processing.

During Gliperol combustion in an engine the amount of greenhouse gases (CO2, CO) and HC created is smaller than from combustion of petrochemical fuel or classical fatty acid methyl esters (FAME).


The synthesis is performed in typical apparatus made of acid-resistant steel, employed to obtain fatty acid methyl esters using the classical method (with minor additions).

Advancement of proceedings

There have been developed foundations of the technology to obtain the new biofuel – Gliperol and initial application research has been performed.


Pat. PL 197 375 (2007) „Biofuel for self-ignition engines and the method to obtain biofuel for self-ignition engines”.

Pat. PL 205 836 (2008) „Method to obtain biofuel for self-ignition engines”.

Patent application No EP-1 580 255 A1 (2004) „A biofuel for compression-ignition engines and a method for preparing the biofuel”.

pat. PL 206 668 (2010) „New biofuel components and the method to obtain new biofuel components”.

pat. PL 217 587 (2011) „Biofuel component, method to obtain it and its application”.

Market competitiveness

No similar technology on the market. FAME production costs are so high, that their production without financial donations is unprofitable. The technology proposed allows to reduce the cost to obtain biofuel by 30–35 % compared to the cost of the classical FAME production method and to evade problems concerning disposing of the glycerin fraction.

Type of expected cooperation

Cooperation in development of the technology, taking into account the scale, ramifications concerning constituents and capabilities of the contracting party.


phone + 48 22 568 28 48,

fax + 48 22 568 26 33