PhD student University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
There is a consensus on the need to minimize our impact on the environment while at the same time meeting the ever-growing worldwide energy demand. Renewable energy from biomass is seen as a viable option. In line with this goal, our group has developed and patented a two-step thermal lipid conversion technology to produce renewable drop-in hydrocarbon that can be used as fuels and solvents. The use of low-cost feedstock is essential in improving process economics and adding value. However, they can pose other problems associated with the presence of contaminants in the form of trace metals and sulfur containing compounds, which are undesirable for fuel application. The aim of this study was the chemical characterization of brown grease and the assessment of the effect of hydrolysis on the partition of its components in the aqueous and organic phases. Locally sourced brown grease was used as feedstock. Characterization was performed using ICP-AES, ICP-MS, HPLC, etc. The brown grease was composed of free fatty acids (66±1%) and triacylglycerols (20±1%). The sulfur and solid content were 332.2±1.8 mg kg-1 and 0.25±0.07% w/w, respectively. The ash content was negligible. Metals such as Rubidium, Caesium, and Potassium, which could act as potential isomerization catalyst poisons, were not detected. Post hydrolysis, around 17% of sulfur migrated to the aqueous phase. Thus, these results indicate that brown grease is a promising and a relatively cheap lipid feedstock that can be potentially utilized in producing renewable fuels.