Bioenergy and energy from wasteProject Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Laboratory
This report details the findings on a viable demonstration refinery plant for the production of Renewable Diesel and Renewable crudes.
Australia is heavily dependent on diesel for its economic activities (Australia consumes ~ 24GL of diesel a year). Diesel is a fundamental community necessity – for long and short haul transport (truck, train and shipping), mining, crop production, defence, and tourism. A cessation of the supply of diesel to Australia would be extremely damaging to our economy and strategic interests.
Australia has access to significant waste carbon in the form of Municipal Solid Waste, Commercial and Industrial waste, agriculture and forestry waste and multiple other waste feed stocks. This available carbon can be used to make renewable fuels. It is a scientific fact that Australia generates enough waste to satisfy the majority of its diesel needs if that waste was converted into renewable fuel.
Just having access to carbon and a market to buy diesel isn’t enough for a renewable fuel industry to begin – other economics drivers must be right. One of the pivotal economic factors is the refining of renewable fuels. To date no major refining renewable fuel plant exists in Australia.
A viable demonstration refinery plant for the production of Renewable Diesel and Renewable crudes is detailed in this report. The refinery design is based on extensive research and development, and several years of experience through the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Laboratory co-funded by ARENA and the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant co-funded by the Queensland Government.
It has been found that different renewable feeds generate different renewable crudes. It was further found that these crudes can be divided into three major categories; Light Gas Oil, Cracked Gas Oil and Biological Gas Oil. These three crudes have different properties and and have slightly different refining needs.
The designed refinery is specifically targeted to deal with these variations and the problems that are unique to renewable feeds. The main differentiating feature of this refinery to fossil fuel plants is the use of large buffering capacities and a recirculation of product back to feed. This allows any major changes in the oil, and the variation between the crudes themselves, to be normalised in the large buffer. This design allows a larger background of liquid for hydrogen to dissolve into. The availability of hydrogen in renewable fuel hydrotreating is of high importance.