Process design and optimization for etherification of glycerol with isobutene

Jingjun Liu, Prodromos Daoutidis, Bolun Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Surplus glycerol from biodiesel production can be transformed to valuable fuel additives through etherification with isobutene. Our previous work has studied the kinetics and thermodynamics of this reaction. In the present work, a novel process design is proposed. An optimization problem is also formulated to minimize the cost of production of the di-tert-butyl ethers and tri-tert-butyl ether of glycerol. The resulting mixed-integer nonlinear program enables simultaneous determination of values of key decision variables including number of column trays, feed tray location of column, volume of reactor, process flowrates etc. The optimal design leads to a minimal production cost of glycerol ethers of 1.201 $/kg, which is dominated by the cost of isobutene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-335
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Engineering Science
StatePublished - Apr 22 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) (Grant No. 201406280135 ) is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Etherification
  • Glycerol ether
  • Isobutene
  • Optimization
  • Process design


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