September 23, 2013

First steps towards achieving better and cheaper biodiesel

Is there any connection between wine and biodiesel? The answer is yes, however surprising it may seem. Acetals are chemical compounds found in many wines, like port, for example, which give it a unique, sweet smell. However if acetals are blended with biodiesel, they improve its properties. The SUPREN research group of the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Environment of the Faculty of Engineering in Bilbao (UPV/EHU) is working on a project that is seeking to encourage the use of this rare fuel. The idea is to produce acetals more easily and more cheaply. The starting point is the alcohol obtained from sugar-rich plants, or glycerol, a bi-product of biodiesel which is also a kind of alcohol. The aim is to come up with an industrial process to obtain the supplements that will improve the biodiesel we will eventually be putting into our vehicles.