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Economic and technological study of glycerol conversion in products with higher added value and electricity using fuel cell systems and additional chemical processes


The mandatory incorporation (law 11.097 / 2005) of biodiesel to diesel derived from petroleum in ever greater proportions has resulted in the production of large amounts of glycerol, which is a byproduct of the process. This large supply of glycerol has decreased it market value and, according to projections, the value will continue decreasing due to increases in production (as a byproduct). Thus, the development of products from glycerol is a research opportunity with high potential for industrial application, since the economic viability is quite favored by the cost of this raw material. The study of catalysts for glycerol oxidation has been done using techniques such as cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry, both at room temperature, and by means of polarization curves in fuel cells, which are usually done at 80°C. Under these conditions, some products have been obtained as a function of the catalysts used. However, the variation of process parameters such as potential, temperature, residence time, pressure and pH can resulte in the formation of different products from the same catalyst, which has not been evaluated in bench experiments. It is also unusual that scientific publications present studies related with the economic feasibility of production and commercialization of these products, being necessary to obtain such information. Depending on the results obtained in PIPE 1, in PIPE 2 may be evaluated other catalysts with alloys, support materials modification, and core-shell structures, if convenient. Thus, in this project it is intended to study the products formed during the electrochemical oxidation of glycerol in a fuel cell according with process variables used and verify the economic feasibility of their scale production. In PIPE 1 is intended to evaluate, using the same catalyst, if the modification of process variables modifies the products obtained or simply influence the conversion rate of glycerol in the same product. For this study catalysts Pt/C, Pd/C and PtRu/C will be used in the preparation of MEAs to be used in the glycerol oxidation in PEMFC to identify the products formed at specific potential, temperatures and residence time. After that the cost to scale production will be estimated and the economic viability of each product in the market will be evaluated. Eventually changes in pH and further chemical reactions may be studied to convert the products obtained in other more viable economically. Besides the low cost raw material, the use of fuel cell as a chemical reactor has the advantage of generate electricity while the reaction occurs which increases the process economic viability. In PIPE 1, due to the short time to get the answers on the effect of process variables in the formed product, is intended to use catalysts commercially purchased. X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, cyclic voltammetry, cronoamperometrias are among the techniques that can be used to characterize the acquired catalysts. The experiments of glycerol oxidation in fuel cell shall be made according with the proposed parameters variation and the products obtained through each condition will be determined by infrared spectroscopy. (AU)

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