Issue: Aug 2013


GULF COUNTRIES STRIVE FOR PETROLEUM REPLACEMENT



by Bob Brooks

Recent announcement that an advanced method of making renewable diesel fuel has been licensed by UOP/ENI to the Mazdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, which has staked its future on benefiting primarily GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Quatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen). Mazdar’s Clearly stated objective is to achieve clean energy and deal with the climate change problem. There is no mistaking its long term target of replacing petroleum. Masdar is affiliated with MIT.

With Mazdar’s target in place, while this does not translate directly into change-over to the UOP/ENI system for making diesel fuel, it ads support to the stated claims and outlook for the new fuel’s GHG emissions reduction of up to 80%, cost equal to current fuel without subsidies and high diesel cetane value of 80(compared with current pump diesel’s 40 to 60 cetane).

As for feed stock material, a Honeywell/UOP report lists animal fat but of greater importance is vegetable oil(extracted from a broad spectrum of organic materials via the UOP/ENSYN “rapid thermal processing technology now operating at 7 plants in the U.S. and Canada”. UOP renewable jet fuel is being commercialized under a contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) for the U.S. military.

Further confidence in the UOP/ENI technology stems from its announced licensing to China and India plus Emerald Biofuels LLC which is re-fitting a U.S refinery for planned 500 million/gal/yr. in a few years after start up. A major plus for the UOP/ENI Diesel product is ability to retro-fit existing refineries at much less cost than would be needed for entirely new facilities.

In the news earlier are reports that UOP and ENI will each begin production of the new fuel next year for ramp up to over 1 billion/gal/yr. Also, UOP expects clearance this year for production of JetA fuel for civil aircraft for which air lines are pressed by regulators to cut GHG emissions. This, however, will take time for all the approvals needed. The total aircraft fuel market is reported to be 60 billion gal/yr

Among the core business questions now being asked is whether significant supply of the new clean fuel will come from off-shore now that Masdar’s objectives coincide with long sought technology and economics.

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