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Galp Energia Licenses UOP/Eni Ecofining Hydroprocessing Technology for Renewable Diesel Production

The UOP/Eni Ecofining process supports the possible co-production of propane, naphtha, and high quality jet fuel. Click to enlarge.

Portugal’s largest refiner, Galp Energia, will use the UOP/Eni Ecofining catalytic hydroprocessing technology to produce renewable diesel fuel from vegetable oils.

Galp Energia is the second European refiner to license the Ecofining technology, which produces a direct hydrocarbon substitute for diesel fuel featuring a high cetane value of approximately 80. Eni S.p.A, which co-developed the technology with UOP, is in the process of installing an Ecofining unit at its facility in Livorno, Italy. (Earlier post.)

The Galp Energia facility, to be located in Sines, Portugal, will process 6,500 barrels per day of vegetable oils to supply European refineries with the high-cetane renewable diesel fuel. Compared to diesel found at the pump today, which ranges from 40 to 60 cetane, the Ecofining renewable diesel offers value as a blending stock for fuel producers and blenders seeking to enhance existing diesel fuels and expand the diesel pool.

The Ecofining process was designed to seamlessly integrate into existing infrastructure to reduce capital costs and simplify adoption. And in addition, the properties of the green diesel product eliminate the need for changes to automobile power trains, fuel pumps and fuel distribution networks.

—Jennifer Holmgren, director of UOP’s Renewable Energy & Chemicals business uni

The Ecofining process, like other hydroprocessing technologies being developed to produce renewable fuels, requires hydrogen and works well on triglycerides and high free fatty acid (FFA) feeds (vegetable oils and greases). The process is very feed-flexible.

UOP and Eni have so far tested the process with soybean oil; canola oil; palm oil; jatropha; used cooking oils; and tallow. Feeds for future testing include algae oil; tall oil; and yellow grease.

Ecofining uses a discrete unit in the refinery for the production of the renewable diesel, rather than pre-treating the vegetable oil feed an co-processing it in an existing reactor as some other approaches do. Co-processing vegetable oils can carry a significant cost, UOP and Eni argue. Reactor design changes may be necessary to accommodate the additional heat release; the recycle hydrogen system may need to be revamped to account for CO, CO2 and H2O production; a pre-treatment reactor is required to remove Na, Ca, P and other metals in the vegetable oil feedstock; and cold flow property issues may limit the volume of vegetable oil that can be processed.

The Ecofining approach of relying on a unit optimally designed to process biologically derived feedstocks is more cost-effective, the companies assert.

Biodiesel and UOP/Eni Ecofining “Green Diesel” Properties
Property Petroleum
UOP Green Diesel
% Oxygen 0 11 0
Specific Gravity g/ml 0.84 0.88 0.78
Sulfur content, ppm <10 <1 <1
Heating value MJ/kg 43 38 44
Cloud Point, °C -5 -5 to +15 -10 to +5
Distillation, °C 205-350 340-355 265-320
Cetane 40 50-65 70-90

The Ecofining technology is the first commercial product from UOP’s Renewables Energy & Chemicals business unit. Launched in late 2006, the unit is focused on developing and commercializing technology to produce transportation fuels and chemicals from biofeedstocks ranging from vegetable oils to second generation cellulosic waste feedstocks like corn stover or wood chips.

UOP is also currently developing technology for the production of renewable Jet Propellant-8 (JP-8) jet fuel from vegetable and algal oils backed by $6.7 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). (Earlier post.)

Galp Energia, is a leading Portuguese producer and distributor of refined products in Portugal. The Sines refinery is the largest in the country producing 225,000 barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) for distribution in Spain, Portugal and Africa.

UOP LLC is a leading international supplier and licensor of process technology, catalysts, adsorbents, process plants, and consulting services to the petroleum refining, petrochemical, and gas processing industries. UOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc. and is part of Honeywell’s Specialty Materials strategic business group.




If the hydrogen is 'recycled' how come it isn't shown as a closed loop in the diagram? Otherwise the good numbers might need to be adjusted for an external energy input from fossil fuels.


I hope this helps to achieve the 10% of Biofuels incorporation in 2010 from the 5% we have now in Portugal for each liter of Diesel.

Paul F. Dietz

If the hydrogen is 'recycled' how come it isn't shown as a closed loop in the diagram?

Um, it is. Hydrogen not consumed in the reactor is recycled; this loop is clearly shown (going through the reactor, separator, and acid gas removal unit). Hydrogen that is consumed is replaced with 'make-up hydrogen'. I presume this hydrogen comes from natural gas, although any source would work.


I'm not sure what the reaction is here, but if this is the conversion of fatty acid into diesel, then 3 mols of hydrogen will be used for every one mol of diesel produced.

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