What is Renewable Diesel?
Renewable diesel is a clean-burning alternative fuel that is made from renewable feedstocks such as vegetable oils, animal fats, and waste materials. It is also known as green diesel, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), and second-generation biofuel. Renewable diesel is chemically identical to petroleum diesel, which means it can be used in existing diesel engines without any modifications.
Renewable diesel is produced through a process called hydrotreating, which is similar to the process used to produce petroleum diesel. In this process, the feedstock is heated to high temperatures and mixed with hydrogen gas under high pressure. The mixture is then passed through a series of catalysts, breaking down the feedstock’s long-chain hydrocarbons into smaller molecules. The resulting liquid is then distilled and refined to produce renewable diesel.
Renewable diesel can be used in various applications, including transportation, power generation, and industrial processes. It can be blended with petroleum diesel in any proportion, which makes it a flexible fuel that can be used in existing diesel engines without any modifications. Renewable diesel can also be used as a drop-in replacement for petroleum diesel, which means that it can be used without any changes to infrastructure or vehicles.
One of the key benefits of renewable diesel is its compatibility with existing diesel infrastructure. Renewable diesel can be transported, stored, and distributed using the same infrastructure as petroleum diesel. This means that it can be easily integrated into existing fuel supply chains without the need for significant investment in new infrastructure.
Renewable diesel, while currently being produced in and out of the US, is dominantly being used on the West Coast due to the demand and economic benefits of the state incentives coupled with the RIN and BTC. There are some stand alone RD plants in the US but there are also refineries that are converting part of their process to RD production.
Renewable Diesel Use and Applications
Blending renewable diesel with petroleum diesel is a simple and straightforward process. The two fuels can be blended together in any proportion, depending on the desired properties of the final fuel blend. The blending process can be done at the refinery, distribution terminal, or retail fueling station.
The first step in blending renewable diesel is to ensure that both fuels meet the necessary quality specifications. Renewable and petroleum diesel have similar quality specifications, but there may be slight differences depending on the specific fuel blend and the location of the blending. The fuel supplier should provide information on the quality specifications for each fuel, and the blending process should be designed to ensure that the final blend meets these specifications.
Once the quality specifications have been verified, the two fuels can be blended together. There are several methods for blending renewable diesel and petroleum diesel that are not dissimilar to biodiesel and diesel blending including:
- In-line blending: In-line blending is the most common method for blending diesel fuels. This method pumps the two fuels through a blending system that mixes them together in the desired proportion. The blending system can be located at the refinery, distribution terminal, or retail fueling station.
- Splash blending: Splash blending is a simple method for blending small fuel volumes. In this method, the two fuels are added to the same tank and mixed together by the movement of the fuel in the tank. This method is not recommended for large fuel volumes or fuels with different densities.
- Batch blending: Batch blending is a method for blending small fuel volumes in a separate blending tank. The two fuels are added to the blending tank in the desired proportion and mixed together using a mixer or agitator. The blended fuel is then transferred to a storage tank for distribution.
The blending process should be carefully monitored to ensure the final blend meets the necessary quality specifications. The blending system should be equipped with sensors and meters to measure the flow rates and volumes of each fuel, as well as the temperature and pressure of the blend. The quality of the blend should be checked regularly using laboratory analysis.
Renewable diesel is eligible for the Blender’s Tax Credit which allows for the blender to claim a $1 credit per gallon of renewable diesel that is blended with 1% diesel. Renewable diesel is also eligible for a RIN credit as well as credits within states which have a low carbon fuel standard or clean fuels program.
Are you blending or using renewable diesel? Contact us today to determine whether you can capture the credits available to you!