Breakthrough in Biodiesel: Duonix Beatrice Reaches Commercial-Scale, with Signature Advances in Cost-Reduction, Feedstock Flexibility
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) The most important technological advance in biodiesel in recent years has reached commercial-scale in Eastern Nebraska, with the startup of the Duonix Beatrice biodiesel plant, which is and the first commercial-scale application of Benefuel’s innovative ENSEL technology. ENSEL technology is capable of converting a range of lower cost feedstocks such as recycled cooking oil and distillers corn oil into high-quality biodiesel.
The technology story
ENSEL is a one-stepper that does esterification and transesterification in one step, and it uses a solid catalyst. No soap formation, improved process efficiency, and expanded feedstock optinos in the high free fatty acid range. Only REG has been bringing forth anything like this in terms of technical advance that opens up feedstock options — and look how fast REG has been growing.
Partners in the new plant are Flint Hills Resources and Benefuel.
Once fully operational, the Duonix Beatrice plant will produce approximately 50 million gallons of biodiesel annually. The plant has already made commercial sales of product that meets or exceeds ASTM specifications for biodiesel.
“I think that everyone is probably pretty familiar with our philosophical position, that we would continue to support the elimination of biodiesel tax cedit and RFS2,” Bezdek (Jeremy Bezdek, vice president of Flint Hills Resources Biofuels and Ingredients) told The Digest. “Now, clearly those exist and we’ll play in those markets so long as they continue to exist. For example, we will ship to California, where the LCFS is in place and there’s a further advantage. But we would not have got far here within FHR if we had we needed to rely on those supports.”
“We believe that this technology can stack up against petroleum diesel.“ Bezdek said, “whether there’s a subsidy, mandate or not. I don’t believe all biodiesel technologies would survive without mandates and subsidies, but we see this working even in a no mandate environment.”
Even in a low price environment?
“Clearly we would do better with higher price crude, but we see value today,” Bezdek noted. “For sure, it is much less of an opportunity at the moment, but we’re still positive. And when I was in an Innovation role with the company, we did a pretty deep dive on techs in this space, and this technology stood out for us as having an advantage over all the others. … ”
Overall, it’s been a six-year journey. 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 from the companies. READ MORE