Duonix LLC, a joint venture (JV) between US-based oil refiner, petrochemicals and biofuels producer Flint Hills Resources Inc. and biodiesel process technology developer Benefuel Inc., has announced the startup of the Duonix Beatrice biodiesel plant in Nebraska (NE), the first successful commercial-scale application of Benefuel’s innovative ENSEL technology. Once fully operational, the Duonix Beatrice plant will produce around 50 million (US) gallons (≈ 189 million litres) of biodiesel annually.
Benefuel’s innovative ENSEL technology is capable of converting a range of lower cost feedstocks such as used cooking oil (UCO) and distillers corn oil into high-quality biodiesel. Once fully operational, the Duonix Beatrice plant will produce approximately 50 million gallons (≈ 189 million litres) of biodiesel annually. The plant has already made commercial sales of the product that meets or exceeds ASTM specifications for biodiesel.
The ENSEL technology uses a solid catalyst that combines esterification of high free fatty acid feedstocks and transesterification of triglycerides into a single step, which eliminates waste, improves process efficiency and expands feedstock options. The product is further enhanced by an upgraded, backend distillation process that removes additional impurities which, when used on high free fatty acid feedstocks such as distillers corn oil, produces a higher quality biodiesel with superior cold weather performance.
The start of production at Duonix Beatrice is a major milestone and a significant step toward demonstrating the commercial viability of the ENSEL technology. The key question has been whether the technology can be scaled up and applied to a large production facility, so we’re very pleased to be able to say that production at Duonix Beatrice is now underway and the results are very encouraging. We believe this provides us with a strong base to grow additional production within the United States and worldwide, said Rob Tripp, Chief Executive Officer of Benefuel.
As an alternative energy source, biodiesel can be used in most diesel engines, especially newer ones. In addition to producing biodiesel, Duonix Beatrice is expected to produce a variety of co-products such as glycerin, which can be used as a food additive and as a compound found in a number of medical, pharmaceutical and personal care products.
The ENSEL technology has the potential to greatly improve both the cost competitiveness of biodiesel and its viability as a very clean diesel fuel blend component that can be used in almost any climate. Duonix Beatrice has been a tremendous proving ground for the ENSEL technology and it establishes a platform for developing other valued coproducts that we believe will find success in the marketplace said Jeremy Bezdek, Vice President of Flint Hills Resources Biofuels and Ingredients.
Since 2010, Flint Hills Resources and Benefuel have worked together to test and validate the ENSEL technology for commercial-scale production. Flint Hills Resources acquired the Beatrice biodiesel plant in 2011. The plant was originally built in 2008 but was not finished and never operated.
In May 2013, Benefuel announced a joint venture with Flint Hills Resources, known as Duonix, LLC, to develop domestic biodiesel production capabilities. The Duonix joint venture was formed to leverage Benefuel’s leading ENSEL biodiesel refining technology with Flint Hills Resources operating experience and establish itself as a low-cost producer in the industry. Duonix Beatrice is the first joint commercial venture between the companies.