Refining Bio-Oil alongside Petroleum

Project Overview
Positive Impact: Lowering biofuel costs through refinery integration.
PNNL and collaborators are working to establish a bio-oil refining process that uses existing petroleum refinery infrastructure. Expertise on refinery integration is brought to the project by W.R. Grace and Tesoro
Locations: Washington, Maryland, Tennessee, New Mexico
Partners: W.R. Grace, Tesoro, VTT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos Laboratory, Aston University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
EERE Investment: $3.5 million
Clean Energy Sector: Sustainable transportationPDF

W.R. Grace, a leading provider of refining technologies, and PNNL are co-leading an effort to accelerate the development of technologies that enable the processing of bio-oils in petroleum refineries. The ability to leverage existing petroleum-refining infrastructure to produce “drop-in” biofuels (biofuels that can substitute readily for gasoline, conventional diesel fuel, and jet fuel) brings significant potential for reducing the cost of biofuels. The goal of the project is to establish co-processing “biogenic refinery feedstocks” with the appropriate fossil-based petroleum stream, implemented using existing infrastructure. The team is complemented with Tesoro for refinery operation, Aston University and VTT for pyrolysis technologies, materials compatibility is led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory completes the team for biogenic carbon stream analysis.

Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) is the “heart” of the refinery. It is one of the most flexible processes readily adjusting to feed quality. W. R. Grace is a pioneer of FCC development, and W. R. Grace’s Davison Circulating Riser Reactor is the leading technology for pilot-scale research. In the research, it will optimize the catalyst(s) and conditions for co-processing fast pyrolysis oil, (raw and stabilized) with vacuum gas oils to obtain high-quality data to demonstrate control of product selectivity without impairing production rate or final output of the petroleum refinery operation. Co-processing in the 110 FCC domestic units in operation today could account for 8 billion gallons of biobased fuel content in fuels having a direct impact on the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 renewable fuel standards.

The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) works with a broad spectrum of industrial, academic, agricultural, and nonprofit partners across the United States to develop and deploy commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower from renewable biomass resources in America to reduce our dependence on imported oil.

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