New trends on crude glycerol purification: A review

Taha Attarbachi, Martin D. Kingsley, Vincenzo Spallina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing effort of the global community to reduce dependency on fossil fuels led to an increase in the production of biodiesel and therefore the oversupply of crude glycerol. Different steps are necessary to ensure this oversupply of highly impure, waste-based crude glycerol (approximately 680,000 tonnes by 2024) can be made suitable for applications. This review paper aims to give an overview of the recent developments of the global glycerol market and discusses advanced crude glycerol purification technologies (as compared to physio-chemical treatments). The market overview involves information on the relevance of the global glycerol market and the different grades of glycerol which are produced. Additionally, different application areas for glycerol are detailed; including current industrial solutions, challenges, and outlooks. The second part reports newly proposed crude glycerol purification technologies from industry and recent research since 2014, their advantages and disadvantages, and feasibility in terms of industrial implementation at scale. The results of this review suggest that pressure-, thermally- and electrochemically-driven membrane-based separation technologies could solve the issue of expensive large scale vacuum distillation columns lowering capital and operating expenditures reaching > 99 % of glycerol purity. However, the increase of lower quality glycerol generated resulting from 2nd generation bio-diesel plants presents challenges due to the increasing ash and matter organic non-glycerol (MONG) impurities (due to the use of waste-based feedstocks in biodiesel production). As result, hybrid solutions may be needed since advanced purification technologies cannot be used as stand-alone solutions but need to be accompanied by a proper pre-treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127485
Early online date31 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2023


  • Biodiesel
  • Crude glycerol
  • Glycerol market
  • Pre-treatment
  • Purification


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