Reusable Biodegradable Solvents from Biodiesel

EPA Grant Number: SU836761
Title: Reusable Biodegradable Solvents from Biodiesel
Investigators: Ott, Lisa
Current Investigators: Ott, Lisa , Stone, Janine , Bayham, Jude
Institution: California State University - Chico
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017 (Extended to January 31, 2018)
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Chemical Safety


Develop a process for transforming waste glycerol from biodiesel synthesis into a deep eutectic solvent. These solvents can be prepared inexpensively from simple components and have great potential to help biodiesel manufacturers decrease their waste streams significantly and could increase revenues.


Our objective is to develop a process for utilizing glycerol waste from biodiesel production to generate a useful, value-added product for biodiesel manufacturers. A current technical challenge for biodiesel manufacturers is the disposal of their glycerol waste stream because of the glycerol’s impurities, pH, and viscosity. We will develop a process for transforming waste glycerol from biodiesel synthesis into deep eutectic solvents (DESs). DESs are an exciting class of non-volatile, reusable, biodegradable solvents. By using waste glycerol from biodiesel synthesis as a component in DESs, we aim to help the biodiesel industry find a solution to a production challenge that would help biodiesel manufacturers decrease their waste streams significantly. Additionally, we will show how production and marketing of deep eutectic solvents can increase the profitability of biodiesel producers, especially for small-scale producers for whom waste glycerol creates significant disposal costs and where economies of scale may be difficult to achieve.


Undergraduate chemistry, economics, and agriculture students from Chico State will develop new reusable, non-volatile (green) solvents and evaluate their usefulness as a value-added product for biodiesel manufacturers. This project is part of CSU, Chico’s Center for Water and the Environment that helps facilitate collaborative research of modern day problems related to water, environment, and energy. This project will facilitate undergraduate students working in close collaboration with a small, local biodiesel manufacturing company (Springboard Biodiesel) committed to providing “closed-loop local” biodiesel fuel to the Northern California community.

Expected Results:

The expected project outcomes are (1) the development of a series of deep eutectic solvents prepared from waste glycerol and (2) an evaluation of the how the potential to market deep eutectic solvents as a biodiesel coproduct may increase revenues of biodiesel producers and potentially create an incentive for new biodiesel manufacturers to enter the industry. Initially, the experimental solvent prototypes will be used and tested within the Chico State’s teaching and research labs as “green” reaction solvents, and shared with our industry partner Springboard Biodiesel. Ultimately, we hope to begin commercialization through Springboard’s established retail arm.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

waste recycling, biodegradable, resource recovery, reuse, renewable feedstocks, biodiesel, waste to value-added product;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2017 Progress Report
  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Reusable Biodegradable Solvents from Biodiesel  | 2018 Progress Report  | 2019 Progress Report  | 2020 Progress Report