Opportunities for Co-Processing Biomass Derived Intermediates in a Petroleum Refinery | AIChE

Opportunities for Co-Processing Biomass Derived Intermediates in a Petroleum Refinery


Conference Presentation

Conference Type

AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety

Presentation Date

April 27, 2015


30 minutes

Skill Level




As the biofuels industry broadens to include advanced liquid hydrocarbon fuels, understanding commercialization opportunities and leveraging existing infrastructure to reduce costs will become critical for the nationwide deployment. From the bio-intermediates producer’s perspective, use of existing infrastructure may reduce investment costs. From a refiner’s perspective, there is  available refining capacity that could be utilized for upgrading bio-intermediates. However there are numerous challenges associated with refinery integration, such as the uncertainties associated with the technical risks. Additionally, there are no clear economic incentives as Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits are not yet allowed under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for co-processing. Per the 2014 EIA Annual Energy Outlook Report, the transition of the fuel pool to a higher diesel and lower gasoline demand has a large impact on petroleum refinery operations. Specifically FCC utilization is expected to decrease from 67% in 2012 to 55% by 2040 due to lower gasoline demand. This allows for the opportunity to supplement this processing availability by using biomass derived intermediates, particularly if diesel fuel is the primary target from these biomass products. Alternatively, hydrocracking demand is expected to grow with capacity being increased by 30% from 2012 to 2040. With increasing hydrocracking capacity, biomass intermediates could potentially supplement the petroleum feedstock for these units. A study of biomass availability around US refineries, and a preliminary assessment of the impact of co-refining were presented previously. As a continuation of that work, the team leveraged existing experimental data, and modeling expertise to develop first of kind Aspen models for co-processing bio-derived intermediates in a petroleum hydrocracker and fluidized catalytic cracking unit to assist with this assessment. Sensitivity analysis, both with and without the addition of a bio-oil intermediate feed was used to qualitatively and quantitatively address co-processing impacts.  The preliminary impact of refinery integration of biomass derived intermediates will be presented. 


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