19 April 2007

ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods have formed a strategic alliance to produce and market a next generation renewable diesel fuel, which will be made in a refinery process using beef, pork and poultry fat as the feedstock.

Tyson will make capital improvements this summer in order to begin pre-processing animal fat from some of its North American rendering facilities later in the year. ConocoPhillips also will begin the necessary capital expenditures to enable it to produce the fuel in several of its refineries. The finished product will be renewable diesel fuel mixtures that meet all federal standards for ultra low sulfur diesel. Production is expected to begin in late 2007, ramping up through spring 2009 to reach as much as 175 million gallons per year of renewable diesel.

Using a thermal depolymerization technology, the animal fats will be processed with hydrocarbon feedstocks to produce high-quality diesel fuel. The addition of animal fat also improves the fuel’s ignition properties, while the processing step improves its storage stability and handling characteristics, according to Conoco.

The processing technology was developed at ConocoPhillips, and tested at the company’s Whitegate Refinery in Cork, Ireland. ConocoPhillips began commercial production of renewable diesel using soybean oil in Ireland late last year.

Renewable diesel fuel made through refinery processes, such as hydrogenation of vegetable oil and animal fat feedstocks, were recently granted the same tax credits in the United States as conventional, methyl ester-based biodiesel, and became eligible for credits under the US EPA Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations. From the technical point of view, refinery made renewable diesel—sometimes called the second generation biodiesel—is a more attractive fuel than ester-based biodiesel, due to its better properties (including no stability problems) and no need to maintain a separate set of fuel quality standards. This presents a threat for the ester-based biodiesel industry, which has been lobbying against refinery-made biofuels.

Tyson Foods, founded in 1935 with headquarters in Springdale, AR, is the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, and the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500.

Source: ConocoPhillips