In the United States (US), renewable diesel developer UrbanX Renewables Group Inc., (UrbanX Group) of Long Beach, California (CA), has announced that it has executed its front-end engineering design (FEED) contract, an essential step for building the state’s first facility producing ultra-low carbon renewable diesel, a fuel essentially indistinguishable from the petroleum product it is replacing.
In February 2015, Urban X Group was awarded US$5 million by the California Energy Commission (CEC) through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) to construct a biorefinery in Southgate capable of producing at least 75 million (US) gallons (≈ 283.8 million litres) of renewable diesel fuel annually.
The company will produce renewable diesel from vegetable oil, fats, and used cooking oils (UCO) through a proprietary process. Its fuel performs better than traditional diesel and can be used without engine or infrastructure modifications.
This is the right fuel at the right time. Its benefits to the environment and its reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are important climate change advantages, as well as larger ecological gains. For example, renewable diesel cuts lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions up to 85 percent, said Bruce Melgar, President UrbanX Group.
Additionally, renewable diesel lowers tailpipe emissions such as particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), total hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
UrbanX has a long history in sustainable technology, from the harvesting of greases from wastewater streams to the production of biofuels. The facility will be in the Bakersfield area and will refine 5 300 barrels per day, generating over 75 million gallons per year of renewable diesel. But it can also yield a prime sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Melgar said that today’s stiff environmental challenges require exceptional responses, such as the high-quality transportation fuel UrbanX will produce from the integrated waste-based feedstock.
It has taken a breakthrough technology and a seasoned team to get to this point, Melgar added, citing Chevron Lummus Global’s patented Biofuels Isoconversion process which produces the cleaner fuel from waste feedstock, in joint development with Applied Research Associates (ARA).
UrbanX holds a license for this innovative technology. UrbanX’s distinctive methodology first produces a renewable crude and then refines it into renewable diesel, standing apart from other renewable fuel products.
Melgar refers to Dr Addison Stark, the company’s chief technical officer and vice president of research and development, who maintains the patented process used mimics mother nature. Petroleum is accepted to be the transformed remains of long-dead organisms created over time with heat and pressure.
Instead of requiring millions of years to form the crude, we do it in about four hours. Our process is feedstock flexible and can even refine clean fuel from the bottom of the barrel materials, Bruce Melgar said
Also partnering with UrbanX is Total-Western, Paramount, a long-standing industrial contractor who will assist with the construction of the manufacturing plant. Joining the project is Hyundai Engineering Co., Ltd., making its first entry into the US plant market with its Front-End Engineering Design contract.
Another key player is IQA Solutions of Long Beach, especially skilled in the refining and petrochemical fields, to provide engineering and design services. Local employment and economic benefits from supply-side activities for Kern County will also occur, Melgar noted, pointing to the available skilled workforce in the area, a major reason why UrbanX selected the area for its facility.
The company will disclose the exact plant location at a later date.