ETH Zurich develops PLA using glycerol

In Switzerland, researchers from ETH Zurich say they’ve developed a cheaper and cleaner way to produce PLA using glycerol. This waste substance is becoming more and more abundant, with 3 megatons in 2014 expected to increase to over 4 megatons by 2020. Because of its impurity, glycerol is not suitable for the chemical or pharmaceutical industry. The new procedure reduces the overall CO2 emission by 20 percent compared to fermentation: per kilogram of lactic acid produced, 6 kilograms of CO2 are emitted with the new method compared to 7.5 kilograms with the conventional technology. Also, by lowering the overall cost of the process, the researchers calculated a 17-fold increase in potential profits.

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