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Aston University’s HYDROGAS project has produced hydrogen from glycerol and is testing the potential for transforming glycerol into biopropane

by | Sep 29, 2023

After extensive research, the HYDROGAS project, based at Aston University, has had a breakthrough, and has discovered that glycerol can produce the hydrogen which is required to convert glycerol into biopropane.

HYDROGAS has been provided with support from the Marie Sklodowska- Curie Actions, the EU’s programme for doctoral and postdoctoral training. The original aim of this project was to experiment with glycerol as a raw material, to see if hydrogen gas and biopropane could be produced from glycerol.

The interest in glycerol is derived from glycerol being an organic compound. Glycerol has been used in health and beauty products for years, as it is mostly found in fats and oils, which are easily available. One form of glycerol, crude glycerol from biodiesel production plants is cheap and abundant, therefore instead of letting it go to waste, researchers are interested in exploring its potential for the production of biopropane, which can be generated through reacting hydrogen with glycerol. The issue delaying projects focusing on reacting glycerol and hydrogen to convert glycerol to propane is that normally hydrogen from external sources is extremely expensive. However, the breakthrough with HYDROGAS in which the researchers have discovered that they can produce the hydrogen needed for this reaction from the glycerol itself, means that further research and experiments can be done into looking at generating larger amounts of biopropane, as issues of hydrogen availability are no longer a problem.

The Aston University Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute, was led by Dr. Jude Onwudili who said, “Our approach was to use part of the glycerol itself, to produce the hydrogen gas required for biopropane production, avoiding the need for it to be added from expensive external sources.”

Now that the project has achieved its first goal, plans to continue onto its next steps have been made. These involve more research, following the aim to generate high yields of biopropane. The project also expects to be supported with more investments from the University and also has plans to expand this project through creating a research programme which will focus on expanding the projects market. This expansion will come in the form of experimenting on glycerol and other biomass-derived feedstock and transforming them into sustainable fuels constituting of gases and liquids.

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