Italian oil and gas company Eni has partnered with German chemical and biotech giant BASF to produce bio-propanol from glycerine, the companies announced on 29 July.

The aim of the joint R&D project was to develop a new technology to produce advanced bio-propanol from glycerine, a by-product of biodiesel production, the companies said.

Using a catalytic hydro-treatment process to convert the glycerine, the new technology produced bio-propanol with a high yield and purity while minimising by-products, according to the statement.

Propanol obtained via this method could be added as a drop-in bio-fuel component to gasoline, the companies said.

“This collaboration … is consistent with Eni’s strategy for the development of “advanced generation” biofuels supply chains from feedstocks that do not compete with food supply chains,” Eni’s head of research & technological innovation Luisa Lavagnini said.

More than half of the world’s glycerine production originates as a by-product of the biodiesel industry with every tonne of biodiesel producing approximately 10% glycerine, according to the report.

Global glycerine production increased from 200,000 tonnes/year in 2003 to approximately 5M tonnes/year in 2020 due to increasing biodiesel production, the companies said.

Glycerine is classified as an advanced bio-feedstock due to it being a vegetable residue, according to the European RED II directive (Renewable Energy Directive, Annex IX part A).