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New R&D initiative to reduce transport sector CO2 footprint
Eni and BASF have signed a strategic agreement on a joint R&D initiative to reduce the CO2 footprint of the transportation sector.
The companies are developing a new technology to produce advanced bio-propanol from glycerin, a by-product from the production of industrial biodiesel (FAME, fatty acid methyl esters), that Eni will purchase from European producers.
The new process involves applying a high-pressure hydrogenation reaction over a BASF catalyst, ensuring that the bio-propanol is produced with a high yield and purity while minimising by-products. The bio-propanol is claimed to potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65–75% compared to fossil fuels. It can be easily added as a drop-in biofuel component to gasoline, offering better physicochemical properties compared to bioethanol and a very high-octane number, report the companies.
More than half of the world’s glycerin production originates as a by-product of the biodiesel industry – every tonne of biodiesel produces approximately 10% glycerin. Due to increasing biodiesel production, the world’s glycerin production has risen from 200,000 t/y in 2003 to approximately 5,000,000 t/y in 2020. Being a vegetable residue, glycerin is classified as an advanced bio-feedstock, according to the European RED II directive (Renewable Energy Directive, Annex IX part A).