What are some of the optimal strategies for processing (or co-processing) second- and third-generation renewable feedstocks?

First published in PTQ Catalysis 2023

Sophie Babusiaux, Hydroprocessing Technology Advisor, Axens
Lucas Vergara, Principal Technology Engineer, Axens

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Catalytic solutions to help tackle the challenges associated with co-processing sustainable feeds

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Processing and co-processing renewable feedstock is part of today’s main refineries’ strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of their activities. As defined by the European Union, second- and third-generation biofuels are produced from feedstock that does not compete directly with food and feed crops, such as wastes and agricultural residues (wheat straw, municipal waste), non-food crops (miscanthus and short rotation coppice), and algae.

The starting point strategy to integrate these feeds into a refinery is first to identify the local availability and individual feed challenges. Then, depending on the conversion/ hydroprocessing platforms available at site, look for the most suitable unit to cope with these in terms of existing hardware and impact on products. To be sure, more than 50 years of providing solutions in optimizing refinery refining schemes throughout the world delivers the repository of experience, know-how, and methodology to conduct detailed dedicated studies in a constantly evolving legislation framework.

Processing second- and third-generation biofeeds represents specific challenges to the operation, for both new units and retrofits, either in co-processing or stand-alone mode. The design shall consider robust and proven solutions. We have developed solutions over the past 30 years to prevent pressure drop, loss of activity, corrosion, and other nuances that have emerged in the processing of renewable feedstock.