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Technip Building New Biodiesel Plant with Heterogeneous Catalyst Process

Diester Industrie, the French biodiesel pioneer, has awarded global engineering and construction firm Technip a contract for a new biodiesel unit to be built in Venette, near Compiègne, France.

The new unit, with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes/year (about 30.2 million gallons US), is based on the Axens Esterflip-H process, and will double the site’s current production. Start-up is scheduled for the third quarter of 2006.

The Esterfip-H process was developed by the French Institute of Petroleum (IFP) and commercialized by Axens. The current process uses a heterogeneous catalyst—a spinel mixed oxide of two (non-noble) metals.

The use of heterogeneous catalysts eliminates the need for catalyst recovery and washing steps—and associated waste streams—required by processes using homogeneous catalysts such as sodium hydroxide or sodium methylate.

The process uses two successive fixed-bed reactors, with glycerol separated to shift the equilibrium. Esters and glycerol are separated in a settler. Biodiesel is then recovered after the final recovery of methanol by vaporization under vacuum, and then purified to removed traces of glycerol.

Esterfip-H exhibits very high biodiesel yields and directly produces salt-free glycerol at purities exceeding 98%. The quality of the glycerol yield adds to the economics of the process.

Technip is one of the top five full-service engineering and construction services in the field of hydrocarbons and petrochemicals. In December, for example, it closed a $4-billion contract with Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited (3) the sponsors of the Qatargas 4 Project for two of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains.

Diester first contracted with Technip in 1996 for the construction of a biodiesel plant in Rouen. In 1994, Diester awarded Technip a contract to build a 160,000 t/y (about 48.3 million gallons US) plant in Sète—also based on the Axens process—which is nearing completion.

Technip is also well positioned to take advantage of Europe’s emerging focus on second-generation biofuels—those created either by gasification of biomass with subsequent processing to liquids (e.g., BTL Fischer Tropsch), or enzymatic hydrolysis. (Earlier post.)



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This new process really down the cost of the production of biodiesel?

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