Glycerol is generated in a large quantity as a byproduct in bio-diesel plants, and hence utilization of crude glycerol for value-added chemicals (such as 1,2-propanediol - an important commodity material used in the production of polyester resins and pharmaceuticals) will yield both economic and environmental benefits to bio-diesel plants.
The use of fossil fuels for energy and chemical production is not sustainable, and it leads to increased emissions of air pollutants (SO2 and NOx) and greenhouse gases. It is thus of strategic significance to explore alternatives to fossil resources for both energy and chemicals production. Among all the potential alternatives to fossil resources, biomass is promising because it is renewable and immense. Canada is blessed with 401.9 million hectares of forest, approximately 10% of the world’s total forest cover.
CENNATEK Bioanalytical Services Inc. is leading a R&D project with the goal of using Jerusalem artichoke as a feedstock for the production of ethanol, inulin and biomass pellets. The Jerusalem artichoke crop contains large amounts of carbohydrates, mainly inulin, which can be converted to sugars such as fructose. Fructose is used as a sweetener in the food industry and has several health benefits. The inulin, other extractable sugars, and cellulose can also be used to produce ethanol.