Producing renewable liquid products from different lipid feedstocks (TIA)

The refining landscape is shifting dramatically, and refiners are looking to adapt. This process often involves revamps or retrofits of existing assets.

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Article Summary

The RISE (Revamps Integrated Solutions Entreprise) approach leverages Axens process, catalyst, and heater expertise early on in a client’s project development process, with an integrated and holistic approach.This case study is based on producing renewable liquid products from different lipid feedstocks.

Context: existing hydroparand

Avensrocessing assets were used across multiple units, including a hydrocracker. The revamp was extremely important to the client as there were large financial incentives for supplying renewable products to the market as soon as possible. Additionally, the client needed the flexibility to respond to future changes in the market. These changes could impact the availability of feedstock and prices for products. Speed to market and flexibility were key for this client.

Technical aspects: as illustrated in Figure 1, every aspect of the unit was impacted when processing lipids.

Study: All these impacts were addressed using the Axens RISE approach:
● Analysing the major process circuits to suggest new metallurgy requirements, or operating conditions to minimise corrosion and fouling concerns
● Altering the heat integration scheme to manage high exotherms
● Tailoring the catalyst formulation to meet cloud points while maximising renewable diesel yield
● Evaluating the refinery hydrogen plant in tandem with the hydroprocessing assets to align feed rates with the available hydrogen.

A holistic approach that leveraged Axens technology and SMR heater expertise was needed for defining the available hydrogen supply since byproducts from the units, such as light ends and naphtha, were processed into hydrogen or otherwise removed at the hydrogen plant. Additionally, the hydrogen available would set the lipid feed and renewable product rates.

In the end, the hydrogen available did reset the feed and product rates at the units versus initial project assumptions.
The analysis also accounted for CO2 across the process to help define the Carbon Intensity scores of the products.
These insights were critical to confirming the project economics and developing a realistic project schedule that maximised the reuse of existing assets.

Key takeaways: By utilising Axens RISE approach, we were able to:
● Achieve the client’s multi-year cycle length target
● Maximise the diesel yield while meeting the cloud points specs
● Minimise units modifications to fit the project schedule for capturing market incentives
● Align the lipid feed rate and the available hydrogen production to maximise reuse of the existing assets
● Evaluate energy efficiency options for reducing the Carbon Intensity of the process.

These results confirmed that the business case was achievable and could be guaranteed, which was fundamental for securing project financing.

This short case study originally appeared in PTQ's Technology In Action Feature - Q2 2022 Issue.

For more information: clara.garand@axens.net

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