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Making A Green Solution Greener

University of Leicester team develop way of purifying biodiesel made from vegetable oils

A group of Chemists from the University of Leicester have developed a way of purifying biodiesel made from vegetable oils, which is cheap, simple and low in toxicity.

The team, led by Professor Andrew Abbott is able to remove glycerol, the main by-product of vegetable oil-based biodiesel, using ionic liquids made in part by vitamin B4 (choline chloride).

If left in biodiesel, glycerol (a syrupy sugar alcohol) would damage engines but this technique simply washes it out of the fuel. The ionic liquid developed by Professor Abbott uses a complex of choline chloride with glycerol to extract more glycerol out of the biodiesel.

The Leicester process is greener than traditional processes and effectively provides a sustainable methodology for the purification of biodiesel without the production of significant waste.

Professor Abbott commented: “We hope that further research will optimise the ionic liquid recycling and recovery of the glycerol. We are hoping to collaborate with a biodiesel producer to test this technology further.”

Notes to Editors: For more information on this please contact Professor Andrew Abbott, Department of Chemistry, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 2087, email

Ather Mirza
Press and Communications
Marketing Office
University of Leicester
University Road
tel: 0116 252 3335
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- A member of the 1994 Group of universities that share a commitment to research excellence, high quality teaching and an outstanding student experience.

Ranked joint top for two consecutive years for the quality of teaching and overall satisfaction amongst full-time students at English universities

Ranked as a Top 20 university by The Times Good University Guide and The Guardian University League Table

One of just 19 UK universities to feature in world’s top 200- Shanghai Jiao Tong International Index, 2005 and 2006.

Short listed Higher Education Institution of the Year - THES awards 2005 and 2006

Students’ Union of the Year award 2005, short listed 2006

Founded in 1921, the University of Leicester has 19,000 students from 136 countries. Teaching in 18 subject areas has been graded Excellent by the Quality Assurance Agency- including 14 successive scores - a consistent run of success matched by just one other UK University. Leicester is world renowned for the invention of DNA Fingerprinting by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and houses Europe's biggest academic Space Research Centre. 90% of staff are actively engaged in high quality research and 13 subject areas have been awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level. The University's research grant income places it among the top 20 UK research universities. The University employs over 3,000 people, has an annual turnover of £173m, covers an estate of 94 hectares and is engaged in a £300m investment programme- among the biggest of any UK university.

Ather Mirza | University of Leicester
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