The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently granted Ensyn Corporation (earlier post) Part 79 registration for its renewable diesel product, RFDiesel. This registration, pursuant to Title 40 CFR Part 79 of the Clean Air Act, is required for the sale of RFDiesel in the US.
RFDiesel, a drop-in diesel transportation fuel, is created by processing Ensyn’s renewable crude (RFO), a liquid cellulosic feedstock, with customary petroleum feedstocks in conventional petroleum refineries (RFO Coprocessing). There, Ensyn’s RFO is used as a feedstock in Fluid Catalytic Crackers (FCCs). FCC units are found in most refineries worldwide and are used to produce gasoline and diesel from vacuum gas oil (VGO). When RFO is processed alongside VGO in FCC units at VGO displacement rates up to approximately 5%, RFO performs comparably to VGO on a volumetric basis producing spec gasoline and diesel.
Ensyn is advancing its RFO Coprocessing business with UOP and an array of first-class, global industry leaders; the Part 79 registration process involved a number of these.
RFO is the output of Ensyn’s patented RTP (rapid thermal processing) technology—a processing system that uses heat to thermally crack carbon-based feedstocks such as wood biomass (cellulose, lignin) into high yields of a higher-value liquid product. Dried wood is typically converted to approximately 75% (by weight) liquid with the balance converted to combustible gases and char. Relative yields can be varied in response to customer product requirements.
The RTP pyrolysis process is based on the application of a hot “transported” bed (typically sand) that is circulating between two key vessels. Feedstocks, such as wood residues, are subjected to fast, intimate contact with the hot sand for under a few seconds, resulting in the thermal cracking of the feedstock to gases and vapors. Product vapors are rapidly quenched, or cooled, and recovered as a light liquid product.
The RTP process is actually an analog to FCC. An FCC system circulates catalyst in a closed loop between two key vessels in order to convert vacuum gas oil to gasoline. Ensyn uses a similar mechanical process, but typically circulates readily-available sand while converting wood residues to high yields of a light liquid product.
The liquid RFO feedstock was produced at one of Ensyn’s commercial facilities and shipped to Brazil. Using Petrobras proprietary FCC coprocessing technology, 400 gallons of coprocessed diesel were produced in a technical collaboration between Petrobras and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The diesel was shipped to a major international oil company in the US for initial evaluation and preparation for the Part 79 test. The final RFDiesel product was then shipped to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas where independent Part 79 testing was conducted.
Registration under Part 79 will allow us to proceed with the commercial introduction of RFO feedstocks to refiners. In parallel with this process we are expanding RFO production capacity in order to meet expected demand.—Dr. Robert Graham, CEO and Chairman of Ensyn
Ensyn and UOP have a broad technology alliance that covers the production of RFO as well as the commercialization of RFO Coprocessing. Ensyn and UOP have established a joint venture known as Envergent Technologies LLC (earlier post) that supplies Ensyn’s biomass conversion technology (RTP), with performance guarantees, to RFO projects that Ensyn and its partners are developing worldwide. In addition, Ensyn and UOP are collaborating on the commercialization of RFO Coprocessing. Under this collaboration, UOP is interfacing with refiners and facilitating a seamless integration of RFO into their refineries.
Ensyn has more than 25 years of commercial operations and has produced more than 40 million gallons of liquid fuels and chemicals from wood residues. Ensyn’s key liquid product—RFO—is a heating fuel and can be used as renewable crude in refineries for the production of ASTM-spec gasoline and diesel. Ensyn owns and operates a commercial RFO production facility in Ontario, Canada that supplies RFO for sale to heating customers in the US and Canada.
Additional RFO production capacity is under development in Aracruz, Brazil and at other locations in Canada and the US. Ensyn is executing its business plan in conjunction with key strategic relationships, including UOP, Fibria Celulose SA and Chevron Technology Ventures.