Application of Glycerol by-product of Biodiesel Palm Oil as Potential Base Drilling Fluid

Document Type: Original Article


Department of Petroleum Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia


Glycerol is by-product of transeterfication process of vegetable oil to produce biodiesel. The
production of glycerol increases as the number of biodiesel industries grows. The increment
of glycerol is not proportional with its application in industries which cause a drop in crude
glycerol price and problem to environment. Overcome this condition, an initial experiment of
glycerol characterization as a potential base drilling fluid was performed.
This research covered the formulation of glycerol and quality assessment of glycerol, both
crude and purified glycerol, by comparing the characteristic glycerol with former oil base
fluids. The characterization of glycerol compound was conducted by Nuclear Magnetic
Resonance (NMR) spectrometry, and fluid testing which cover the testing of specific gravity,
flash point, pour and cloud point also kinematic viscosity.
The fluid testing result showed that purified glycerol has better physical characterization than
the crude glycerol. In addition, purified glycerol characteristic is very supportive to be
applicable in drilling fluid system, considering its high flash point value. Instead of physical
characteristic, application of glycerol as base drilling fluid gives lower toxic content
compared with other base fluid, such as diesel.