UPM to Become Biofuels Producer
Virent Energy Systems Receives $2-Million USDA-DOE Grant for Glycerol Conversion

Honeywell’s UOP Establishes Renewable Energy and Chemicals Unit; Synthetic Renewable Diesel Targeted for 2007

Processing routes for vegetable oils and grease. Click to enlarge.

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, has established a new business unit dedicated to introducing new technology for processing renewable energy sources in existing or new petroleum refineries worldwide.

The new unit, called Renewable Energy and Chemicals, will accelerate UOP’s already existing efforts to develop renewable energy technologies by developing profitable ways refineries can use UOP’s petroleum processing technologies to convert bio-feedstocks such as vegetable oils, greases and certain waste products, into fuel and chemicals.

UOP developed every major step change in refining technology over the past 90 years. Processing bio-derived feedstocks is the cornerstone of what will be another major step forward. We continue to invest resources as part of our overall commitment to our own sustainability goals and to improving the economics and flexibility of refinery operations worldwide.

—Carlos Cabrera, President and CEO of UOP

UOP’s development efforts have targeted the creation of transportation biofuels which can be used with the existing diesel and gasoline fuel infrastructure. In 2004, UOP received funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for a study that identified a number of opportunities for biorenewables in petroleum refineries.

Biodiesel and “Green Diesel” Properties
UOP Green Diesel
% Oxygen 11 0
Density g/ml 0.883 0.78
Sulfur content <10ppm <10ppm
Heating value
(lower) MJ/kg
38 44
% change in NOx emission +10 0 to -10
Cloud point °C -5 -5 to -30
Distillation 10-90% pt 340-355 265-320
Cetane 50 80-90

The study determined that co-processing vegetable oils with petroleum feedstocks can produce gasoline and olefins, the building blocks for producing plastics and other materials. UOP Fluid Catalytic Cracking, or FCC, technology can offer refineries this capability.

The study also showed that UOP’s technologies can be used to convert vegetable oils to high-cetane synthetic renewable diesel fuel, also called “Green Diesel.” This technology is expected to be commercially available in early 2007.

Biodiesel and “Green Diesel”
Feeds and Yields
UOP Green Diesel
% Oil or Grease 100 100
% Hydrogen 1.5-3.8
% methanol 8.7
% water, CO2 12-16
% Lt HC 2-5
% diesel 96 83-86
% glycerol 12
Operating cost $/gal .05 .025

The work identified the production of synthetic renewable diesel through hydrotreating vegetable oil and grease as one of the best options for refiners, agricultural producers, and forest products producers. (This “second-generation” biofuels approach is similar to that in the Neste Oil NExBTL process. Earlier post.) The study found that this “Green Diesel” has superior product properties, requires less capital investment to produce, and has a lower life-cycle environmental impact (LCA) than biodiesel.

The study found that Green Diesel is economically attractive under two conditions:

  1. Using a low-cost feedstock such as brown grease; or
  2. If vegetable oil feedstocks are subsidized.

Green gasoline and green olefins, which are produced by cracking vegetable oils and grease in an FCC unit, are also economically attractive, particularly if eligible for subsidies.

UOP collaborated on this project with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Lab and Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL).

Separately, UOP teamed with PNNL in 2004 to deliver technology for converting glycerol, a by-product from converting vegetable oil to biodiesel, to higher value propylene glycol.

UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals unit also plans to identify and evaluate technologies for refineries that use other renewable energy sources.



An Engineer

More proof for two of my hypotheses for the future:
1. Large scale biodiesel to be superceded by "green" diesel, due to lower operating cost and superior product quality.
2. We are going to be buying green fuel from those same evil Big Oil companies we all love to hate so much.


NExBTL has an edge vs Green diesel when it comes to pollution:

Less PM (-28%) and NOX (-18%) means meeting emission standards are easier.

An Engineer

You are comparing NExBTL to GTL, not BTL. This actually sounds pretty similar to NExBTL, except that this seems to use the existing refinery equipment, dramatically reducing implementation cost.


The chart indicates biodiesel yields: 96% diesel and 12% glycerol?? Above unity?


Fluid Catalytic Cracking for "green gasoline" is a new one to me. Given that the vast majority of new light vehicles in the US run on gasoline, there's a vast market waiting.

Rafael Seidl

gr -

the chart doesn't provide percentages but parts:

100 parts oil or grease + 8.7 parts methanol yields 96 parts FAME plus 12 parts glycerol. The .7 got lost along the way, perhaps that is a small mistake.


An Engineer,
Actually, it was NExBTL vs sulfur free diesel. This Green diesel has a 0 to -10% change in NOX emissions (vs diesel), with no data on, so far, PM.

Cheryl Ho

DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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