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What is best for your business? It depends on your long-term strategy and your desire for market share

Producing diesel with a low carbon footprint is not new, and two production pathways exist, resulting in two product categories with quite disparate properties.

FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Esters) biodiesel is produced from the transesterification of vegetable oils, waste oil, animal fat, or tallow. The production is relatively simple and transforms oil into long-chain mono alkyl esters using liquid (homogenous) catalysts. FAME can be mixed with conventional diesel to decrease carbon dioxide emissions, but globally several legislative blending limits restrict the use of FAME.

Renewable diesel is produced in a catalytic hydrodeoxygenation process followed by a dewaxing step, making it possible to turn virtually any renewable feedstock into an on-spec diesel. The removal of oxygen will produce hydrocarbons molecules similar to diesel constituents, with the renewable diesel being composed of paraffin without oxygen, aromatics, or sulfur and the dewaxing step will ensure good cold flow properties.

Compared to FAME, renewable diesel has the highest cetane content, best cold flow properties, and highest market value as the properties are close to petro-diesel. Not to forget that renewable diesel can be used with no blending limits making it a profitable solution.

The difference between renewable diesel and FAME biodiesel is:
  1. The way it is produced. Renewable diesel is produced via catalytic hydroprocessing, while FAME is produced through transesterification.

  2. The flexibility you have as a refiner. With FAME, you can only produce biodiesel and glycerol. With hydroprocessing, you have a choice of producing renewable diesel, jet fuel, and naphtha – or a mix. You also have the option to tune and optimize your output and product. For example, you can specify the performance of the diesel with summer and winter modes, control the cloud point and increase yield.

  3. The cap on blending limits. Restrictive caps limit the amount of FAME blended into the diesel, but renewable diesel produced with hydroprocessing is a drop-in fuel and can be blended without restriction on the percentage. Which means you can sell more.



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