New biorefinery tech produces high-purity glycerin for personal care formulations

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Petroleum

New biorefinery tech produces high-purity glycerin for personal care formulations
SBI BioEnergy, a biofuels company out of Edmonton, Alberta, is about to start converting waste oils and fats into alternative fuels. And as with petroleum based fuel production, the byproducts will be available ingredients for cosmetics manufacturers.

The biorefinery construction project is funded by Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, a government backed research agency. AI Bio has, over the last three years, provided SBI BioEnergy with $1.4m.

“Public investment helped move this innovation along to the stage where SBI has shown it can produce these unique, drop-in and replacement fuels derived from non-food Alberta farm products, and do so at a larger scale,”​ says Steve Price, CEO of AI Bio, in a statement to the press.

The support doesn’t end there. Alberta Innovates Technology Futures has given $460,000 to SBI BioEnergy. And, just last week the Alberta government announced a $10m contribution from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) that will help SBI continue this work.

Any day now

The company’s catalytic-processing form of alternative fuel technology apparently “creates no emissions, generates no waste and costs less than other alternative fuel technologies,”​ according to the statement.

In the coming weeks SBI BioEnergy will move into the new Edmonton Research Park facility and begin commissioning the plant. By the end of the year, production should be underway. An onsite demo refinery will generate 10m liters of fuel annually, and full-scale production will amount to 240m liters annually. That level of production is expected by 2018.


The refining technology is proprietary. The company describes it as a continuous (rather than batch) process that uses a catalyst instead of hydrogen. “It uses no water or chemicals and generates no waste,” ​according to the press statement.

The company uses plant oils and waste fats to make its fuel. “Feedstocks include off-grade canola oil, waste cooking oil, animal fat from rendering plants and ‘tall oil,’ a natural byproduct from wood pulp operations. SBI can also use other non-food oilseeds (such as camelina and carinata mustard) from crops grown on marginal land unsuited for food production.”


As the energy industry changes and new technologies like this one from SBI BioEnegry come online, other industries that benefit from the secondary products of production will change as well.

For instance, more manufacturers will likely choose to source glycerin ingredients used in personal care formulations from alternative fuel producers.  

And, SBI BioEnergy is already thinking in that direction: “In addition to renewable fuels, the SBI technology produces a co-stream of high-purity glycerine, a value-added chemical that can be sold for the manufacture of food products, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.”

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