Renewable Diesel and Jet-Fuel Production from Fats and Oils
Hydroprocessing of fats and oils for the production of renewable diesel fuel is a commercial technology with more than 800 million gallons per year of announced capacity. Both co-processing with petroleum feeds and dedicated process technologies to produce a 100% renewable fuel are available with the latter providing flexibility to control diesel product properties and produce renewable aviation fuel.
Similar in composition to Fischer-Tropsch derived fuels, hydrotreated renewable diesel (HRD) and jet (HRJ) are fully deoxygenated, paraffin-rich hydrocarbon liquids that can either be used neat or blended in any proportion with existing petroleum fuels. Complete deoxygenation of fats and oils is critical to ensuring the production of transportation fuels that are chemically identical to components already found in current petroleum hydrocarbon fuels, with high thermal stability and maximum specific energy. The extent to which this straight chain paraffinic product is isomerized and hydrocracked depends on site-specific targets for fuel quality such as type of fuel, viscosity, cloud point, and cetane number. On-going certification efforts, engine tests and fleet testing continue to document the many benefits of these fuels including high specific energy content, good blending properties, and lower emissions.
Life cycle assessments of both HRD and HRJ from a variety of feedstock sources have been completed. When produced from waste streams or sustainable energy crops, HRD and HRJ exhibit a much smaller carbon footprint than their petroleum-derived counterparts. Expanded cultivation of new “non-food” sources of fat and oil feedstock is needed to enable significant market growth.