QUARTERBACK for LIFE - Crude glycerine water used on-site as a feedstock in an anaerobic digestion reactor to produce the renewable fuel biogas

LIFE13 ENV/UK/000401

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Contact details:

Contact person: Ron van 't Hof
Tel: 31182542391
Fax: 31182542250
Email: Ron.van.t.hof@croda.com

Project description:


The production of oleochemicals creates crude glycerine as a by-product, which is a solution of around 85% glycerine and 15% water plus contaminants. Pure glycerine has over 1 500 known end uses, for instance, in cosmetics, toiletries, personal care, drugs, and food products. However, the processing necessary to make this pure form is intensive, consumes high amounts of energy, and uses aggressive chemicals such as phosphoric acid and caustic soda that are recovered as waste or potentially discharged into surface water. Other waste streams, such as salts and non-reusable residues including heavy metals, are ultimately dumped in old salt mines. In addition, applications of pure glycerine only require small amounts, so demand greatly exceeds crude glycerine availability. Therefore, alternative uses of low-value crude glycerine are desirable to avoid it becoming a waste product.


The QUARTERBACK for LIFE project’s main objective is to mitigate the environmental consequences of the production of crude glycerine in the oleochemical industry. The aim is to demonstrate, in the first full-scale application of its kind, both the technical and economic feasibility of operating an integrated process in which crude glycerine is used as the only feedstock for an anaerobic digestion process in order to produce biogas for local use. This innovative process will enable oleochemical producers to meet part of their energy consumption with a carbon-neutral biofuel that enables a 25% (12 000 tonnes CO2/year) reduction in the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The project aims to deliver the following economic and environmental benefits:

  • Concentration of glycerine water for the refining process is avoided, resulting in energy savings from water evaporation and cooling processes;
  • Overall conversion efficiency of the plant’s combined heat and power unit improved, generating further energy savings;
  • Substantial water savings made by reduced steam consumption and cooling water;
  • Electricity usage reduced for effluent treatment by improving aeration and mixing;
  • Reduction of facility water intake and salt discharge to surface waters;
  • Reduction in demand for boiler feed water treatment and process cleaning chemicals;
  • Improving quality of life in the local area by reducing facility noise and odour emissions; and
  • Avoidance of road and waterway transport movements by reduced chemical use and off-site crude glycerine refining.
  • Expected results:

  • Design, construction and optimisation of an integrated demonstration process with glycerine water used as a feedstock in an anaerobic digestion reactor to produce biogas;
  • Discontinuation of glycerine water evaporation resulting in a six per cent reduction of steam (15 000 t/year) and three per cent reduction in electricity use (1 200 MWh/year);
  • Biogas production enables the generation of nine per cent of the facility’s electricity needs by self-produced and sustainable biogas (2 500 000 mn3/year of natural gas equivalents);
  • The installation of an engine heat recovery and hot water distribution system to replace process steam heating, resulting in 10% increased energy efficiency and 15% reduced steam consumption;
  • Reduced chemical demand for boiler feed water treatment and process cleaning; and
  • Termination of deep groundwater extraction for cooling resulting in water usage of plant reduced by 20% (500 000 t/year) and discharge to the river of dissolved salts contained in the groundwater decreased by 325 t/year.



Environmental issues addressed:


Energy - Efficiency
Energy - Savings
Energy - Supply
Environmental management - Cleaner technologies
Industry-Production - Chemicals
Waste - Industrial waste
Waste - Waste use
Water - Water saving
Climate change Mitigation - Renewable energies


greenhouse gas‚  energy supply‚  biomass energy‚  renewable energy‚  water saving‚  energy saving‚  industrial waste‚  waste use‚  emission reduction

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Croda Europe Ltd
Type of organisation International enterprise
Description Croda is a global manufacturer of speciality chemicals and oleochemical products, the latter produced mainly from natural vegetable oils or fats, which it sells to virtually every type of industry. The Croda group’s activities can be broadly classified into three sectors: consumer care, performance technologies and industrial chemicals. In addition, it has an enterprise technology function for integrating new technologies, such as fermentation and biofuels, into its operations.
Partners Croda NL(Croda Nederland B.V.), Netherlands MVO(MVO, de ketenorganisatie voor oliën en vetten), Netherlands


Project reference LIFE13 ENV/UK/000401
Duration 01-JUN-2014 to 30-JUN -2017
Total budget 11,179,407.00 €
EU contribution 1,996,370.00 €
Project location Zuid-Holland(Nederland)


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