Decarbonisation Technology - November 2022

Conversion to a green refinery

Assessing the options, risks, and viability of the biofuels refinery of the future

Scott Sayles and Robert Ohmes Becht

I n order to meet the mandates of the Paris accord, as well as carbon intensity and greenhouse gas emission reductions in traditional refining processes, fossil fuel-based transportation fuels will be substituted by a combination of electric vehicles, bio-derived, and renewable fuels. Existing refining and petrochemical assets are seen as key elements in the energy transition equation, as much of the current processing and distribution infrastructure can be repurposed for this new reality. This change in the marketplace will drive traditional refiners to examine processing and configuration options to align with the new feedstock and product profiles as well as energy input options. Those entities that are able to meet the changes in this dynamic market while remaining profitable will continue as viable enterprises. This article will outline the various processing schemes, available technologies, feed and product possibilities, risk profiles, and optionality that exist to assist energy firms in their decision- making process. In addition, the impacts and

requirements on the utility and logistics systems will be addressed, as these areas not only offer further opportunities to meet sustainability targets but, if not managed properly, can also adversely affect a project’s operational viability. A series of use cases, along with real- world experience, will be used to examine various scenarios and provide key learnings to energy entities. Framing renewable fuels challenge The regulatory environment provides the economic structure for the viable conversion of fossil fuel refineries into biorefineries. The biofuels refinery of the future will initially build upon the refineries of the present, which will radically change into the refinery of the future. Existing refineries all have different unit configurations and capabilities that make conversion to a biorefinery more or less feasible. For example, a simple hydroskimming refinery will require more capital investment than a full conversion refinery to transition into a biofuels facility. In general, the


Scope 1, 2 & 3

Conversion to bi orefinery

Scope 2

Zero carbon emissions

Scope 1

The nal biofuel renery conguration is dependent on the feeds and transportation fuel s l ate. Biomass preprocessing is critical. Siting of the preprocessing system, eld or renery? Types of feeds seed oil, celluloses, pyrolysis?





Approach to zero carbon emissions

Figure 1 Roadmap to a biofuel refinery


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