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Comment Business & Economics

A ‘green’ process for petroleum refineries

By Chemical Engineering |

“Green” diesel fuel that can be blended with petroleum-derived diesel fuel has been produced from vegetable oil in a process developed jointly by UOP LLC (Des Plaines, Ill.; edlinks.chemengonline.com/6895-533) and Eni S.p.A. (Milan, Italy). The fuel is a “premium diesel blending component” for a refinery, with a boiling range comparable to typical diesel products and a cetane number of 80, versus about 50 for petroleum diesel, says Terry Marker, a senior engineer with UOP. Marker described the process at the Spring National Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), held in Houston April 22–27. The green diesel is produced by reacting vegetable oil (such as soybean, palm or rapeseed oil) with hydrogen to remove oxygen from the oil via decarboxylation and hydrodeoxygenation. The reactions occur simultaneously at approximately 300°C and 400–600 psi over a proprietary, fixed-bed catalyst. All the olefinic bonds are saturated, says Marker, so that the product consists only of normal paraffins, plus about 5% byproduct propane. In a second step, the paraffins are hydroisomerized to obtain isoparaffins and produce a fuel with good cold-flow properties. This step also produces a…
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