060096: High Yield Glycerol to Propylene Glycol Conversion Process

The increased production of biodiesel has resulted in a concomitant increased availability of glycerol, a byproduct of the production process. As a result the price of glycerol has experienced a sharp downward spiral. Challenges have confronted biodiesel producers who have pursued Glycerol conversion to the Propylene Glycol, a more desirable and higher priced chemical that is used in a wide range of industrial and consumer products. Attempts to convert Glycerol in a cost effective manner have thus far been plagued by low yield and the presence of undesirable contaminants.


This invention is a method to convert a sugar alcohol, Glycerol, to Propylene Glycol in high yield. Nickel and rhenium on activated carbon is used at a moderate temperature and pressure to selectively produce Propylene Glycol at enhanced yield. The process reduces the yield of undesirable products such as ethylene glycol, lactic acid and one-carbon molecules.


  • Improved Propylene Glycol yield: This process has been shown to convert Glycerol to Propylene Glycol at greater yield over current processes.
  • Reduced yield of undesirable products: Undesirable by-products of the Glycerol to Propylene Glycol conversion process have been greatly reduced allowing for a more cost effective means to produce a purer end product.
  • Improved reaction: The process enables reaction to occur at a moderate temperature and pressure.


The process could create Propylene Glycol for consumer products and industrial applications.

IP Protection Status

US 2008/0242898 A1 (filed Mar 28, 2008)
Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University - Test