Benefuel, Flint Hill Resources to develop US biodiesel projects

By Benefuel Inc. | May 23, 2013

Benefuel Inc. has completed agreements with Flint Hills Resources Renewables LLC to develop biodiesel refineries in the U.S. using Benefuel’s patented ENSEL refining technology, which can improve profitability while also reducing resource consumption and waste.

Benefuel and FHR have an exclusive agreement to develop and operate U.S.-based biodiesel projects. The joint venture, named Duonix LLC, is actively developing the first project, which is a retrofit of the 50 MMgy facility in Beatrice, Neb., acquired by FHR out of bankruptcy and has since been transferred to Duonix. The Beatrice plant will continue to be operated by FHR.

“After significant validation of the Benefuel technology, we are looking forward to demonstrating its commercial application and the competitive advantage we expect it will offer,” said Jeremy Bezdek, managing director of innovation at FHR. “We are excited to partner with Benefuel to bring this next-generation biofuels technology to market.”

Itochu Corp., one of Japan’s largest conglomerates and a current Benefuel shareholder, has invested in the Beatrice project as a strategic partner of Benefuel and as result of its own extensive technology validation efforts. In addition to the Beatrice Project, Benefuel and Itochu intend to develop international opportunities with a focus on Asia.

“As a result of our year-long demonstration experiment in Japan with our partner company, we are confident of the enormous advantage of the ENSEL technology over conventional biodiesel production methods,” said Yasushi Kiyobayashi, deputy general manager of the corporate development department at Itochu Corp. “The Beatrice project will be an important cornerstone for the biofuel industry in the U.S. but also in other countries. We are excited to explore the immense business opportunities in Asia with Benefuel.”

“Benefuel’s goal is to reduce the operating cost of producing biodiesel and ultimately compete on par with petroleum diesel,” said Benefuel CEO Rob Tripp. “After working on this for six years, it is tremendously rewarding to receive the committed collaboration of two world-class corporations.”

Biodiesel process economics are largely driven by feedstock costs, which are 75 to 90 percent of total processing costs. Benefuel’s advantage of being able to generate high yields from low-cost feedstocks will provide consistently higher margins for the refiner.

This process also establishes market opportunities for certain feedstock producers wishing to integrate deeper into the supply chain. Ultimately, it may help reduce costs across the biofuels industry.

Benefuel’s ENSEL process enables the use of cheaper, high free fatty acid (FFA) feedstocks, such as distillers corn oil from ethanol refining, waste vegetable oils, animal fats and unrefined oils, without the usual processing penalty. This is achieved through ENSEL’s solid acid catalyst reactor, which combines esterification and transesterification into a single process step—a long-standing challenge for the biodiesel and oleochemical industries. The improved processing technology ensures that the final FAME stream meets both ASTM and EN biodiesel standards.

ENSEL has been validated independently by FHR and Itochu at two separate 1 ton per day demonstration facilities. Benefuel is the exclusive, worldwide license-holder of the patented, intellectual property and catalyst, which was developed by National Chemical Laboratories and is produced by Süd-Chemie (now part of Clariant).

Benefuel Inc. is based in Irving, Texas, and is a biodiesel process technology and production company with exclusive, patented global rights to next-generation technology for manufacturing biodiesel and biolubricants.

Flint Hills Resources LLC, through its subsidiaries, is a leading refining, biofuels and chemicals company. Its subsidiaries market products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol, biodiesel, olefins, polymers and intermediate chemicals, as well as base oils and asphalt. Flint Hills Resources operates ethanol plants in Fairbank, Iowa Falls, Menlo and Shell Rock, Iowa, and Fairmont, Neb. The plants have a combined annual capacity of 550 million gallons of ethanol. Flint Hills Resources is a leading producer of transportation fuels in the Upper Midwest and is the largest purchaser of ethanol in Minnesota. Since the mid-90s, it has utilized ethanol and other biofuels in its fuel distribution system. The company has also made equity investments in bioenergy companies, and operates a biodiesel plant near Fort Worth, Texas. The refining business operates refineries in Alaska (North Pole), Minnesota (Rosemount) and Texas (Corpus Christi), with a combined crude oil processing capacity of nearly 670,000 barrels per day. The petrochemical business includes production facilities in Illinois, Michigan and Texas. The asphalt business produces and markets product in the Midwest and Alaska. A subsidiary owns an interest in a lubricants base oil facility in Louisiana.

Itochu Corp., with approximately 130 bases in 66 countries and 360 subsidiaries/associated companies, is one of the leading sogo shosha, engaged in domestic trading, import/export, and overseas trading of various products such as textile, machinery, metals, minerals, energy, chemical, food, information and communication technology, realty, general products, insurance, logistics services, construction, and finance, as well as business investment in Japan and overseas.


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