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Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 13–27 | Cite as

Effect of impurities in biodiesel-derived waste glycerol on the performance and feasibility of biotechnological processes

  • Afroditi Chatzifragkou
  • Seraphim PapanikolaouEmail author
Mini-Review

Abstract

The rapid development of biodiesel production technology has led to the generation of tremendous quantities of glycerol wastes, as the main by-product of the process. Stoichiometrically, it has been calculated that for every 100 kg of biodiesel, 10 kg of glycerol are produced. Based on the technology imposed by various biodiesel plants, glycerol wastes may contain numerous kinds of impurities such as methanol, salts, soaps, heavy metals, and residual fatty acids. This fact often renders biodiesel-derived glycerol unprofitable for further purification. Therefore, the utilization of crude glycerol though biotechnological means represents a promising alternative for the effective management of this industrial waste. This review summarizes the effect of various impurities–contaminants that are found in biodiesel-derived crude glycerol upon its conversion by microbial strains in biotechnological processes. Insights are given concerning the technologies that are currently applied in biodiesel production, with emphasis to the impurities that are added in the composition of crude glycerol, through each step of the production process. Moreover, extensive discussion is made in relation with the impact of the nature of impurities upon the performances of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms, during crude glycerol bioconversions into a variety of high added-value metabolic products. Finally, aspects concerning ways of crude glycerol treatment for the removal of inhibitory contaminants as reported in the literature are given and comprehensively discussed.

Keywords

Crude glycerol Biodiesel Impurities Biotechnological conversions Fermentations 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was financially supported by: (1) the State Scholarship Foundation (Athens, Greece) and DAAD (project IKYDA “Development of a novel bioconversion process involving a defined microbial community”); (2) the EU (FP7 Program “Propanergy—Integrated bioconversion of glycerine into value-added products and biogas at pilot plant scale”, grant number: 212671); and (3) the project entitled “Bio-refinery development utilizing residues from biodiesel production processes for the production of biodegradable polymers and value-added products” (Acronym “BIOREF”, project number: 715-12/11/2009) funded by GSRT (Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Biotechnology, Department of Food Science and TechnologyAgricultural University of AthensAthensGreece

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