Reusable Biodegradable Solvents from BiodieselEPA Grant Number: SV839351
Title: Reusable Biodegradable Solvents from Biodiesel
Investigators: Ott, Lisa
Institution: California State University - Chico
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Project Period: March 1, 2018 through February 29, 2020
Project Amount: $73,338
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2017)
Research Category: P3 Awards , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals
The overall goal of this project is to improve biodiesel manufacturing by designing a sustainable solution to the industry's waste glycerol problem. For every 10 gallons of biodiesel produced one gallon of the glycerol by-product is cogenerated. This glycerol is currently viewed as a problematic waste stream. Phase II of the proposed project plans to further test the use of biodiesel waste glycerol in the production of a series of deep eutectic solvents (DESs). DESs are garnering increasing interest as a renewable, recyclable non-volatile, biodegradable alternative to conventional volatile organic solvents. The bulk of the chemical research performed with Phase I sought to prepare a suite of DESs from biodiesel-waste glycerol and characterize them by measuring density and viscosity. In addition to performing the chemistry necessary to produce DESs from waste glycerol, this project evaluates the potential of using these DESs in research laboratories at CSU Chico as an alternative to purchasing solvents.
Objective 1: Measure viscosity with the microscale viscometer.
Objective 2: Investigate the utility of our DESs as reaction solvent.
Objective 3: Start using DES in the organic chemistry teaching labs.
Objective 4: Characterize glycerol cogenerated with BC biodiesel and use as a HBD.
Objective 5: Train students in research and development of a product.
Objective 6: Evaluate the potential net benefits associated with scaling up production of DES.
Objective 7: Cost- benefits analysis of DES production to evaluate reuse of DES.
In Phase II, we will build on the success of Phase I. This entails preparing a wider variety of DESs, evaluating their utility as a solvent for a number of organic reactions, determining the optimum composition of the DESs for maximum benefit in the laboratory with minimum cost, and modifying existing teaching laboratories to substitute traditional organic solvents with these DESs. In order to meet the solvent volume requirements of the teaching labs, we will modify our existing protocols to use biodiesel-waste glycerol prepared on site at Sierra Nevada Brewery. As the Chemistry student team is working to develop the DESs, the Economics student will develop a cost-benefit analysis to quantify savings for creating and using DESs within the California State University system versus purchasing solvents. We will expand the Phase I analysis by using survey methods to evaluate the nonmarket benefits of reducing the use of volatile organic solvents.
Objective 1: Measure viscosity with the microscale viscometer - In Phase II, we will measure viscosity with the now operational microscale viscometer. Because the DESs being prepared are novel, these physical properties measurements are useful for understanding and expanding the use of DESs. The viscosity measurements of Phase II coupled with the density measurements of Phase I should provide suitable results for a communication in the Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data.
Objective 2: Investigate the utility of our DESs as reaction solvent - The organic chemistry community is currently investigating DESs as reaction solvents, with one recent review calling DESs "The Organic Reaction Medium of the Century."2 Our published initial experiments with a DE prepared from waste glycerol and choline chloride indicated that this DES was a suitable solvent for a simple Fisher esterification.1 Our strategy for this objective will be to screen a wide variety of chemical reactions in our DESs, including well-established organic reactions and industrially-important organometallic reactions. Since very few organometallic reactions have been explored in DESs,2 this has the potential to be a high-impact aspect of this project. A very important component in this work is determining the optimum concentration of HBA added to the biodiesel-waste glycerol that will yield the best balance of optimum physical properties at minimal cost. This will be determined by running several reactions in parallel in a series of DESs that differ only in the weight percent HBA added.
Objective 3: Start using DES in the organic chemistry teaching labs - Under Phase II support, Chemistry Student Kelly Bums will modify an existing laboratory experiment, which currently uses an ethyl acetate solvent to substitute a DESs prepared from waste glycerol. He will need to produce a large quantity of AC biodiesel to ensure the sufficient quantity of glycerol needed to make the DESs.
Objective 4: Characterize glycerol cogenerated with BC biodiesel and use as a HBD - With Phase II funding, we will purchase a Karl-Fisher titrator to quickly determine precise water concentrations. We will also build upon the method we developed in Phase I for soap titration and methanol analysis by gas chromatography with flame ionization detection.
Objective 5: Train students in research and development of a product - The research proposed for Phase II support offers a myriad of opportunities to train students. PI Ott has recruited two chemistry students, Kelly Burns and Eric Fleischman, to work on the project for academic credit during the 2017-18 academic year. Both of these students will be working on the project full time during the summer of 2018 through CSU, Chico' s established Chemistry Summer Research Institute (CSRI). In addition to these undergraduate students, CSRI also sponsors 2-3 high school students to do half-time research through our High School Scholars (HSS) program. PI Ott has worked with three such HSS students and two of them are named as co-authors on our initial DES publication - one HS has already signed on to work on the project for the summer of 2017. PI Ott has already brought the Phase I research into the classroom, having her class of Integrated Laboratory III (Chem 483) student prepare and analyze two DES compounds using HBAs of their choice. It is anticipated that each spring semester Chem 483 student will participate in this project. In addition to training chemistry students, the student from the Economics Department will have a significant role in the Phase II project.
Objective 6: Evaluate the potential net benefits associated with scaling up production of DES - The Economics student team will build on the profitability analysis from the Phase I proposal to evaluate the potential net benefits associated with scaling up production of DES for use in all Chemistry Departments within the California State University (CSU) system. Current estimates of net benefits of DES production will be updated to reflect test results regarding the physical properties of DESs and new potential input to DES production.
Objective 7: Cost- benefits analysis of DES production to evaluate reuse of DES - In Phase II, the economics student will determine the value associated with reducing exposure to traditional volatile organic compounds. Per standard practice in the economics literature census data quantifying industry risk will be used with the EPA' s "value of a statistical life ' and with estimates of the exposed C U population to calculate nonmarket benefits of reduced exposure.6 Additionally, the student will develop and administer a survey to evaluate students' perceived risk for working with traditional solvents in the chemistry labs within the CSU system. Survey results will be used to calculate an alternative value of the benefits associated with replacing volatile organic solvents with DESs. The economics portion of the Phase II project will be also be incorporated into two classes within the Economics Department: Economics 495 (the capstone class in cost-benefit analysis) and Econ 466 (Natural Resource Economics). In both classes, students will use this project as a case study for learning how the VSL is calculated and used to monetize non-market benefits. Students will also learn statistical methods for carrying out this analysis and be exposed to the process of developing survey instruments used for nonmarket valuation.