When Honeywell UOP and Eni SpA jointly developed the Ecofining process to convert non-edible vegetable oils and animal fats into fuel products such as Honeywell Green Diesel or Green Jet fuel, the fact that bio-naphtha was produced as a secondary product was initially not a prime consideration.
Naphtha, however, is a valuable petrochemical feedstock used in the production of plastics, specifically olefins that are building blocks for other chemicals and aromatics that are used to produce polyester and other packaging materials. Renewable naphtha from sustainable feeds such as used cooking oil has a 50%-80% lower greenhouse gas footprint compared to petroleum feeds, depending on the feedstock. As consumers increasingly prefer more bio-based products,
interest in renewable petrochemical feedstocks is growing fast, according to Ben Owens, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions.
As the same Ecofining technology can be adapted to produce high yields of renewable naphtha as its predominant product, Honeywell UOP has now announced that it is launching production of this ‘green’ naphtha based on the UOP Ecofining process for renewable naphtha.
"We see renewable naphtha produced from the UOP Ecofining process as a proven solution available today to help petrochemical producers reduce the carbon footprint of their products compared to using petroleum-based feeds,” said Owens.
For additional methods of decarbonisation, the UOP Ecofining process for renewable naphtha can be combined with renewable hydrogen supply and CO2 capture and sequestration through the Honeywell H2 Solutions portfolio. For example, for an Ecofining unit with renewable hydrogen and CO2 capture processing 10,000 barrels per day of sustainable oil feedstock such as used cooking oil, renewable naphtha can deliver more than 1 million metric tons of CO2 emission reductions annually compared to petroleum naphtha.
The Ecofining process was born in response to the need for need for better-quality, high performing biofuels, after the European Union’ s 2003 directive in 2003 requiring that a growing portion of all transportation fuels be produced from biological sources.
UOP and Eni, S.p.A. started a collaborative research effort in 2005 to develop a processing route to convert vegetable oils into a high quality diesel fuel or diesel blend stock fully compatible with petroleum derived diesel fuel, based on conventional hydroprocessing technology. They developed a new approach that they called Ecofining.
The process is now used in most 100%-biofeed units producing renewable diesel -- and all of the licensed renewable jet fuel production -- in the world today. UOP currently has licensed 23 Ecofining units in eleven countries around the world, processing 12 different types of renewable feedstocks.