Diamond Green Diesel starts US commercial plant with UOP, Eni technology

The UOP/Eni Ecofining process technology is now powering the largest commercial advanced biofuel facility in the US, capable of producing more than 130 million gal/year of renewable diesel, officials said on Thursday.

The Diamond Green Diesel facility in Norco, Louisiana, converts inedible oils and other waste feedstocks to produce high-quality renewable diesel, also known as Honeywell Green Diesel. Unlike biodiesel, renewable diesel produced using the UOP process is chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel and can be used as a drop-in replacement in vehicles with no modifications.

Renewable diesel produced using the Ecofining process also features up to an 80% lifecycle reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with diesel from petroleum. 

"Commercial production at the Diamond Green Diesel facility is a significant milestone for the renewable energy industry," said Veronica May, vice president and general manager for the renewable energy and chemicals business at Honeywell's UOP.  "UOP has leveraged 100 years of refining technology to make real alternative fuels, including Honeywell Green Diesel and Honeywell Green Jet Fuel, from a range of inedible biofeedstocks."

The facility, a joint venture of Darling International and Diamond Alternative Energy, a Valero subsidiary, achieved all of its performance and quality targets. 

"Both the performance of the Ecofining unit and the quality of the diesel produced has exceeded our expectations," said John Roach, senior vice president at Valero.

Fuel produced at the facility is designed to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency's Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a minimum volume of transportation fuels sold in the US to contain renewable fuel to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Diamond Green Diesel facility will produce more than 200 million ethanol-equivalent gal/year of biomass-based diesel as defined under the Renewable Fuel Standard.  

"The availability of sustainable feedstocks is a key driver for the continued growth of renewable fuels," said Randall C. Stuewe, CEO at Darling. "One of the benefits of the Ecofining process is that the technology is capable of processing a variety of feedstocks collected and manufactured by Darling to produce high-quality green diesel."

UOP and Eni jointly developed the Ecofining process, which uses hydroprocessing technology to convert non-edible natural oils and animal fats to Honeywell Green Diesel. The fuel offers improved performance over biodiesel and petroleum-based diesel, including a high cetane value of 80 compared with a cetane range of 40 to 60 found in diesel at the pump today. Diesel with high cetane can be blended with low-cetane diesel to help meet transportation requirements. 

Honeywell Green Diesel also offers high energy density and excellent performance at cold or warm temperatures, according to company officials.

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