Hydrogenation-Derived Renewable Diesel (HDRD)

Renewable diesel for ASTM D6866 testing
Hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel (HDRD) is produced by refining fats or vegetable oils in a process also known as Fatty Acids to Hydrocarbon Hydrotreatment. Diesel produced in this process is called renewable diesel to differentiate it from biodiesel, which is a product of the transesterification of animal fats and vegetable oils. Renewable diesel and biodiesel use similar feedstocks but have different processing methods and create chemically different products.

HDRD has an identical chemical structure with petroleum-based diesel since it is free of ester compounds.

Renewable diesel produced from waste animal fats has low carbon intensity and is also referred to as “advanced” renewable diesel.

HDRD vs Biodiesel

Renewable diesel has many advantages over biodiesel:

Check Mark It has a superior emission profile – reduced particulate, hydrocarbons, and carbon dioxide emissions as well as lower sulfur content.
Check Mark HDRD production does not produce glycerin as a co-product.
Check Mark HDRD has a lower production cost because it uses existing hydro-treatment process equipment in a petroleum refinery.
Check Mark Renewable diesel has a better low-temperature operability than biodiesel, thus it can be used in colder climates without gelling or clogging of fuel filters.

Companies Producing Renewable Diesel

There are only few companies who have invested to produce hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel.

ConocoPhilips produces renewable diesel from vegetable oil and crude oil. Neste’s plant in Porvoo, Finland, processes vegetable and animal fats into renewable diesel. Brazilian Petrobras uses co-processing of vegetable oils to make HDRD.

Cetane Energy LLC in Carlsbad, New Mexico, produces renewable diesel from vegetable oils and wastes. According to the company, its technology can work with a wide range of feedstocks including animal fat and algal oils. UK-based Renewable Diesel Europe is the exclusive agent in Europe for the standalone renewable diesel technology developed by Cetane Energy.

Other companies that have plans to produce renewable diesel through hydrogenation include Nippon Oil in Japan, BP in Australia, Syntroleum and Tyson Foods in the U.S., and UOP-Eni in Italy and U.S.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center