Investigation of reaction routes for direct conversion
of glycerol over zirconia–iron oxide catalyst
Received: 28 May 2011 / Accepted: 27 July 2011 / Published online: 13 September 2011
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011
Abstract Conversion of glycerol to useful chemicals was examined using a
zirconia–iron oxide catalyst. An aqueous glycerol solution was used as feedstock,
and the catalytic reaction was carried out in a ﬁxed-bed ﬂow reactor at 623 K under
atmospheric pressure. Useful chemicals, for example propylene, allyl alcohol,
carboxylic acids, and ketones, were obtained from the aqueous glycerol solution.
The reaction was found to involve a series of consecutive reactions, with allyl
alcohol and carboxylic acids as reaction intermediates which were converted to
propylene and ketones, respectively. Moreover, the catalyst had high and stable
activity in the reaction of a 50 wt% glycerol solution.
Keywords Biomass utilization Á Glycerol conversion Á Iron oxide catalyst Á
From the perspective of fossil fuel depletion and global warming, renewable and
alternative fuels, for example biodiesel, are becoming increasingly important [1–3].
Biodiesel is usually produced by transesteriﬁcation of triglycerides, for example
vegetable oils and animal fats, with an alcohol, for example methanol, the
stoichiometrically of which requires three moles of alcohol per mole triglyceride to
yield three moles of a fatty acid alkyl ester, i.e. biodiesel, and one mole of glycerol.
Because an aqueous solution of glycerol is generated as a major by-product,
methods for effectively utilizing the glycerol are required. Glycerol has recently
T. Yoshikawa Á T. Tago (&) Á A. Nakamura Á A. Konaka Á M. Mukaida Á T. Masuda
Research Group of Chemical Engineering, Division of Chemical Process Engineering,
Faculty of Engineering, Hokkaido University, N13W8, Kita-ku, Sapporo,
Hokkaido 060-8628, Japan
Res Chem Intermed (2011) 37:1247–1256