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Eni to Build Renewable Diesel Facilities Using UOP’s Ecofining Biomass Hydrogenation Technology

Eni S.p.A. will build a production facility using UOP’s “Ecofining” technology to produce diesel fuel from the catalytic hydroprocessing of vegetable oils.

The facility, to be located in Livorno, Italy, will process 6,500 barrels per day of vegetable oils to supply European refineries with a high-cetane renewable diesel fuel. It will be the first facility to use the Ecofining technology developed jointly by UOP and Eni.

UOP has already completed the basic design for the first unit, which is expected to come online in 2009. Eni, a leading European oil company with operations in 70 countries and 2006 revenues of more than €86 billion (US$116 billion)  also plans to install several additional Ecofining units at its other wholly-owned and affiliate refineries throughout Europe.

This facility will both provide significant value to Eni’s refining operations by producing an ultra-high-quality diesel and fulfilling the proposed European target to grow the renewable energy supply to 12 percent by 2010.

—Paolo Scaroni, Eni CEO

UOP announced its efforts to develop commercially viable solutions for renewable energy in refineries with the creation of its Renewable Energy & Chemicals business unit in late 2006. The Ecofining process for green diesel is its first renewable technology offering. (Earlier post.)

Biodiesel and UOP/Eni “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 Ecofining process uses catalytic hydroprocessing technology to convert vegetable oils to a renewable diesel fuel. The product, a direct substitute for diesel fuel, features a high cetane value of approximately 80.

UOP 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. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc. and is part of Honeywell’s Specialty Materials strategic business group.



P Schager

This is important, but only because the vehicle manufacturers have been so resistant to acting responsibly on opening the door wide to the use of the existing vegetable-oil diesel product, biodiesel. Now nobody can get in the way of vegetable oil being able to displace oil for as much as you can make.

I hope they leave at least a couple percent of the vegetable oil unconverted or make it biodiesel, because the high lubricity of that makes for a superior product. I think they lose that with this process (despite what they say about how carmakers prefer their green diesel).

This process should make a good jet fuel too.

If we get algae or something going in a big way for feedstock, we can not only use it as a direct substitute for crude this way, but if there is a refinery shortage causing those "unconscionably" high prices, it could also be dealt with by setting people up with fuel heaters in their diesels so you can just bypass the refinery.


The Chemistry for this "Green Diesel" seem to be like this:
O2CC18H37 (Fatty Acid) + 3 H2 -> C19H40 + 2 H2O

It good in that the product is chemically indistinguishable from diesel main component but is bad in that it needs hydrogen made from who knows (hydrgon from water is ok, but from natural gas would be bad) also the process does not free fatty acids from glycerol that has to be done before hand.


What's so great about this? It seems to be another FOOD -> FUEL system! While it is possible to run this type of plant on waste edible oils, I see no indication that this is what they will be doing. While waste oils are cheaper, they can be a pain to collect, especially 6,500 bbl/d.

And please note, the only thing standing in the way of biodiesel (FAME) is its own properties: look at the helpful table in the article. The tendency to gel in winter also does not help.

Ben, note that whether the hydrogen comes from water, natural gas or the fairy godmother is irrelevant - only where the ENERGY came from to make the hydrogen. Hint: it's not solar.


Food is over-rated or maybe you did notice the obesity epidemic. Making deep fried and greasy foods expensive might actually do alot of people a favor.

Actually they need to run it on waste grease because that the only source of free-ed fatty acids.

Hydrogen its self is a problem unless you get it from renewables or as a biofuel product (many fermentation pathways produce hydrogen.

Jeffery Isabell

It is always great to see so many of these companies being so socially responsible. I was on the Social Venture Network’s website today and came across this contest for socially responsible business leaders: It looks like a great way to reward new businesses for working toward the greater good.

Alex Kovnat

What the hydrogenation process amounts to, is using hydrogen to split fatty acid chains off from the triglyceride backbone instead of using methanol.

Methanol is largely made from natural gas, so if you reform natural gas (or, for that matter methane from any other source, such as landfill gas or manure-gas) to hydrogen, the competition between "BioDiesel" and hydrogenated fats is merely competition between two ways of using natural gas to process fats into Diesel fuel.

While high-cetane straight-chain hydrocarbons obtained from hydrogenation of fatty acid triglycerides certainly have merit, I think fatty acid methyl esters have merit too because of their lubricity.

Either way, given how much waste fats there are out there, I like the idea of converting them to fuel instead of just letting them decay. Even if we use natural gas (a fossil fuel, I'll admit), we are still reducing the carbon footprint of the world's Diesel engines.

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