Presentation of the awards will take place October 15th in Vancouver, B.C., at the 62nd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference (www.csche2012.ca/).
In late March, the American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., bestowed its fourth annual Award for Affordable Green Chemistry on William J. Kruper of the Dow Chemical Co. He received the 2012 honor for developing a process to convert glycerin to epichlorohydrin, an intermediate in the production of epoxy resins.
As biodiesel production has increased, so, too, has output of byproduct glycerin, creating an incentive for finding new ways to use the material. Kruper, a corporate fellow at Dow, saw the potential for making epichlorohydrin from gylcerin rather than propylene, the conventional feedstock.
The process involves two steps: reacting glycerin with hydrogen chloride gas at elevated temperature and pressure using a carboxylic acid catalyst, and then converting the resulting mixture of dichlorohydrins to epichlorohydrin with a base.
"It turned out to be about the best process on the planet for making epichlorohydrin," notes Kruper. The solventless method produces less wastewater than the propylene-based route, allowing smaller vessels and reducing capital cost, says Dow.
The company has operated a pilot plant in Germany (see: "Renewable Feedstocks are in the Bag") and reportedly plans to commercialize the technology at its Shanghai site.
Let's hope these awards get the visibility they deserve.
MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can e-mail him at Mrosenzweig@putman.net
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