US-based oil refiner, petrochemicals and biofuels producer Flint Hills Resources Inc., has announced the first commercial-scale use of an innovative biodiesel technology through a joint venture (JV) with process technology developer Benefuel Inc. Flint Hills Resources will begin retrofitting its Beatrice Nebraska biodiesel plant with Benefuel's ENSEL technology for a planned commencement of operations during the summer of 2015 under the JV name Duonix LLC.
Once the Duonix Beatrice plant is operational, it will produce approximately 50 million (US) gallons (≈ 189 million litres) of biodiesel each year and employ about 45 people in the local community.
We are pleased that our Beatrice, Nebraska facility will have the opportunity to bring this innovative technology to life. We look forward to demonstrating the technology’s commercial application and beginning production said Brad Razook, President of Flint Hills Resources.
According to a statement, Flint Hills Resources has worked with Benefuel since 2010 to test and validate their innovative, patented and proprietary, biodiesel technology. Benefuel’s ENSEL technology updates 75-year-old chemistry to provide an exciting new process for next-generation renewable fuel and industrial chemicals production.
Novel single-step catalytic technology
The technology is unique because it allows the use of lower cost, high free fatty acid (FFA) feedstocks such as animal tallow, unrefined oils, used vegetable oils or distillers corn oil – a co-product of ethanol manufacturing – to produce high-quality biodiesel.
This is accomplished through the use of a solid catalyst that combines esterification and transesterification into a single step, which has been a long-standing goal of the biodiesel industry. The process also ensures the final product meets or exceeds all domestic and European biodiesel standards.
Feedstock prices are a top driver in the cost associated with producing biodiesel. Benefuel’s technology allows producers to use lower-cost feedstocks to generate higher yields and improve profit margins. The use of lower-cost feedstocks also opens new markets for feedstock producers.
Benefuel’s goal has always been to improve the profitability of biodiesel by reducing the operating costs to produce it. For more than six years, we have worked to develop a product we believe will improve the profitability of biodiesel, slow resource consumption and cut waste, said Rob Tripp, Chief Executive Officer of Benefuel
Benefuel is the exclusive owner of the patented, process to use its solid catalyst to produce biodiesel and biolubricants, which was developed by the National Chemical Laboratories and is produced by Sud-Chemie (now part of Clariant).
Jointly develop biodiesel production capacity
A wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc., one of the largest private companies in the US, Flint Hills Resources is a leading refining, biofuels and chemicals company and its subsidiaries market products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol, biodiesel, olefins, polymers and intermediate chemicals, as well as base oils and asphalt.
The company operates five ethanol plants in Iowa (IA) and one in Nebraska (NE) with a combined annual capacity of 650 million gallons (≈ 2.46 billion litres). In 2011, it acquired the Beatrice biodiesel plant out of bankruptcy.
The Beatrice 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 to become a leader in the US biodiesel industry, through the construction of new facilities and/or acquisition and retrofit of existing facilities. Duonix Beatrice will be the first joint commercial venture between the companies.