- Biodiesel Project
Flint Hills Resources (FHR) and Benefuel® entered into a 50/50 joint venture to execute the retrofit of an existing biodiesel plant. Benefuel® is a technology development company based in Dallas, Texas. Its technology centers offer a novel catalyst that is reported to be capable of converting both fatty acids and free fatty acids to fatty acid methyl esters — otherwise known as biodiesel. FHR serves as the managing partner of this joint venture — Duonix Beatrice LP (Duonix).
Our team provided phase III, front-end planning (FEP-3) for this retrofit project. Project objectives included:
- Retrofit Beatrice biodiesel plant from Axens catalyst technology to Benefuel® catalysts technology for oil conversion
- Produce B100 containing ≤0.1% total monoglycerides (TMG) with ≤500 ppm saturated monoglycerides (SMG)
- Refit plant designed for operating rate of 50,000,000 gallons per year (100 gpm or 145,750 gpd)
- Incorporate fabrication aspects that are aligned with FHR reliability expectations for the renewables business unit
- Evaluate usability of existing equipment and ancillary systems
Our FEP-3 efforts successfully met these objectives and established the project scope and cost to a level suitable for full funding appropriation.
The project definition was developed through the FHR phased procedures, which generally follow the Construction Industry Institute FEP best practices approach. Phase 1 (FEP-1) and phase II (FEP-2) efforts were completed and reported previously. Following completion of Phase II, Duonix elected to continue through the Phase III definition stage with our team.
The plant was originally erected with the intention of producing 50,000,000 gallons per year of B100 biodiesel from soybean oil feedstock using Axens conversion technology. A significant amount of plant construction was completed, however, the plant was not completed and product was never produced. Documentation of the original construction completion was not found to be comprehensive. Therefore, activities to inspect and clean the existing installed systems and infrastructure of the plant were incorporated into the project scope. Duonix retained responsibility for these inspection activities. We assisted in the development of the scope of work.
The process technology at the core of this project was identified and vetted by FHR’s Innovations group. Extensive laboratory and pilot testing was performed with their Benefuel® partner. Our team conducted additional process simulation related to the implementation of the Benefuel® technology into the existing plant configuration under the direct guidance of a senior FHR Innovations process engineer. Process design requirements for the Benefuel® technology were found to be different from those required for the original Axens technology. Extensive equipment and ancillary system adjustments were identified and preliminary costs were estimated.