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Renewable Energy Group collaborates with Iowa State University on hydrotreater pilot plant for renewable diesel

Biofuels producer Renewable Energy Group joined Iowa State University (ISU) at the BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF) to mark the start of a new hydrotreater pilot plant. This project is the result of a three-year collaboration between REG and the ISU Bioeconomy Institute.

REG converts waste and byproduct fats and oils into biodiesel and renewable diesel. The ISU BCRF is an integrated research and demonstration facility dedicated to biomass production and processing. This hydrotreater pilot plant will utilize the expertise of both organizations to better understand how various biomass feedstocks can play a role in the production of renewable fuels with a specific focus on renewable diesel.

Renewable diesel is produced through a catalytic process utilizing heat, pressure and hydrogen—hydrotreating—to convert feedstocks into a hydrocarbon fuel that is chemically similar to traditional diesel. Research at this new hydrotreater pilot plant will support REG’s Geismar, Louisiana renewable diesel plant by helping to evaluate new low-carbon feedstocks and optimize production of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

REG’s Geismar, Louisiana renewable diesel production facility was the first renewable diesel production facility located in the US and currently produces 90 million gallons of renewable diesel each year as well as other renewable fuels. By 2023, the facility will have the capacity to produce 340 million gallons of renewable diesel through an improvement and expansion project that was announced by REG in 2020.

Through the work being done with the hydrotreater pilot plant, REG will continue to build on feedstock abundance for the growing renewable diesel and biodiesel industries.

The pilot plant is a multi-reactor state-of-the-art research and development unit designed by REG’s engineering teams to accelerate the development of new feedstocks and processes. The system is fully automated and configured to run safely and reliably for weeks at a time.


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