Glycerol, also known as glycerol, molecular formula C3H5 (OH) 3, is a viscous liquid with sweet taste, so it is called glycerol; it can be mixed with water at any ratio, has strong hygroscopicity, and is an important basic organic raw material. In 1779, Swedish chemist Scheele accidentally obtained glycerol from the reaction of olive oil with lead monoxide, which was the first drink to know the existence of glycerol.
At first, glycerol was used only as a skin moisturizer. By 1846, Sobrero reacted glycerol with nitric acid to produce nitroglycerin. Twenty years later, Nobel made nitroglycerin and diatomite into safe explosives, which made nitroglycerin successfully used in the production of Dana explosive. Now, glycerol has been widely used in medicine, cosmetics, alkyd resin, tobacco, food, beverage, polyurethane, celluloid, explosives, textile printing and dyeing, etc. There are about 1700 applications.
Due to the increasing consumption of non-renewable energy such as petroleum, it is the duty of chemical workers to find clean renewable energy. Glycerol, which originates from nature, is non-toxic and harmless, and is an ideal chemical raw material. Therefore, how to develop glycerol well and find its new use has become a research hot spot. This paper reviews the production methods of glycerol, hoping to be helpful to chemical workers who are devoting themselves to developing new uses of glycerol.
Glycerol is widely found in nature in the form of glycerides. Therefore, for a long time, most glycerol is obtained as a by-product in the process of soap production from saponification of oil and fatty acid production from hydrolysis of oil. It was not until 1858 that glycerol could be made from fermentation. During World War I, Germany was the first to create glycerol from sugar beet due to glycerol deficiency. Since 1948, the method of synthesizing glycerol from propylene has been applied in industry. The output has been increasing year by year, and the development trend is fast. At present, according to the source of glycerol, the industrial production methods of glycerol can be divided into three categories: natural glycerol production, fermented glycerol production and synthetic glycerol production. The raw materials of the first 2 methods are renewable.