Former Kansas Abengoa ethanol plant to produce renewable diesel, Seaboard Energy, Neste, Phillips 66, Alto Ingredients, Haldor Topsoe, renewable diesel news

May 16, 2021 |

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glinda

We are only halfway through May 2021 and the renewable diesel news coming in is astounding. It’s like Glinda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz is flying all over waving her wand turning facilities into renewable diesel producers. Ok, so maybe it’s not magic, but Seaboard Energy, formerly known as High Plains Bioenergy, is building a renewable diesel plant in Hugoton, Kansas at the former Abengoa ethanol plant site that was purchased in February 2019. Using Haldor Topsoe’s HydroFlex tech, the plan is to make 6,500 barrels-per-day and is scheduled for operation by the end of this year. But they aren’t the only one.

In today’s Digest, a trip to Kansas and the story behind the Seaboard Energy ethanol to renewable diesel project, news from key renewable diesel players like Phillips 66, Neste, Diamond Green Diesel, CVR, Alto Ingredients, and others, the magical future of renewable diesel, and more – no magic wand needed.

Seaboard’s Ethanol to Renewable Diesel Conversion

Like Dorothy, let’s go back to Kansas and start with Seaboard Energy, formerly known as High Plains Bioenergy, and the news that they are building a renewable diesel plant in Hugoton, Kansas. The facility is being built at the former Abengoa ethanol plant site that was purchased in February 2019. Since that time, Seaboard Energy has recommissioned portions of the idle assets while simultaneously building the greenfield renewable diesel production facilities.

On the 800-acre site, Seaboard Energy is developing a greenfield fat and oil pre-treatment plant, hydrogen plant and renewable diesel plant. The site is also being used to blend and ship biodiesel from Seaboard Energy’s other biodiesel plants located in Guymon, Okla., and St. Joseph, Mo.

The target completion date for the project is Dec. 31, 2021. Once construction is complete, the plant will have the capacity to produce 85 million gallons of renewable diesel annually along with the 8.5 million gallons of renewable naphtha. The renewable fuels will be primarily derived from local animal fats and vegetable oils.

Key Project Players

Others involved include Fagen Inc., is the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractor for the project. Fagen has been collaborating with Ford, Bacon & Davis, LLC.; Crown Iron Works, Chemex Modular and ENGlobal on the execution of facility’s expansion. Multiple area contractors have also assisted with the construction of the facility.

Seaboard Energy currently owns and operates two biodiesel plants with a combined annual production capacity of 75 million gallons. Seaboard Energy also produces and delivers pipeline quality renewable natural gas, as well as compressed natural gas.

The Tech

As for the technology behind the project, Seaboard chose Haldor Topsoe’s HydroFlex technology to produce the renewable diesel from tallow and soybean oil. Topsoe will also provide H2bridge hydrogen technology based on the modular Haldor Topsoe Convection Reformer (HTCR) technology. Topsoe is the licensor and supplier of basic engineering, proprietary equipment, catalyst, and technical services for the renewable fuels complex.

“We chose Topsoe after a very thorough investigation into the technologies available in the market. Topsoe’s solution does not only promise the highest yield; it was also the least complicated and most efficient to implement. The fact that Topsoe can deliver the integrated hydrogen unit along with the hydroprocessing unit was important for us as well. Finally, our visit to Topsoe’s R&D facilities emphasized to us that we are working with a world-leader in the field,” says Gary Louis, President and CEO, Seaboard Energy.

With HydroFlex, Topsoe’s customers can convert low value feedstocks to renewable fuels that qualify for the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credit. The HydroFlex process layout offers lower capital expenditure (CAPEX), but also a lower energy consumption during operation, resulting in a lower Carbon Index (CI). Topsoe’s HydroFlex can be deployed in both grassroots units and revamps for co-processing or stand-alone applications.

Job Maker and Care Taker

The new plant will provide more than 60 jobs to surrounding community and Seaboard Energy has filled the 300-400 construction jobs with as many local residents as possible. These jobs provide employees with benefits, including affordable insurance plans, retirement savings plans and paid time off. They also plan to partner with area schools that have applicable technical programs, which could be tailored to provide students with the skills needed to work at Seaboard Energy or other technical companies after graduation. Now that’s investing in the future!

In addition to employment opportunities, Seaboard has committed to a $2.2 million project with Pioneer Electric to upgrade existing electrical power lines. This incremental capacity will ultimately benefit Hugoton area homes and businesses.

Reactions from the Stakeholders

Going back to their roots and being appreciative of the local community, Seaboard Energy President and CEO Gary Louis said, “We could not have asked for any better cooperation with the local community leaders. I am thrilled that Seaboard Energy can continue to further develop our business footprint in this area where we first started doing business over 26 years ago.”

Louis also said, “The facility location provides Seaboard Energy a strategic geographic advantage to capitalize on the integrated supply of inputs from area feedstock producers, Seaboard Foods’ processing plant and Seaboard Foods’ farms.”

It’s Not Just Magic in Kansas…

Seaboard is on a roll with renewable diesel news as they signed definitive agreement with Alto Ingredients (formerly Pacific Ethanol – they changed their name in January) to buy their Madera, California ethanol plant for $28.3 million, comprised of $19.5 million in cash and $8.8 million in assumption of liabilities. The sale of the 40 million gallon per year facility is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions. The majority of the cash proceeds will be used to retire company debt.

Michael Kandris, Alto Ingredients, Inc.’s president and CEO, stated, “We further optimized our production footprint with the sale of our Madera facility, which will reduce the carrying cost associated with our idled plants. We are in discussions to sell our other idled California facility in Stockton and will announce those terms once an agreement has been reached.”

So stay tuned for more news from them soon.

Going beyond Seaboard, CVR Energy is making mainstream news on Yahoo Finance just days ago with their announcement to focus on renewable diesel and is no longer interested in acquiring another crude oil refinery. The Board ok’d $10 million in spending specifically to make more magic happen with renewable diesel initiatives.

Phillips 66 recent news with soybean feedstock investments (investing in a new soybean-processing plant in Iowa) to make renewable diesel and last year in August, The Digest reported that Phillips 66 was building the world’s largest renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel plant shows their massive support for it.

Just a few days ago, Diamon Green Diesel tapped Howard Energy Partners for logistics in the 470 million gallons per year Port Arthur renewable diesel project with Valery and Darling Ingredients.

Neste has of course chugged along with renewable diesel growth, being the largest renewable diesel supplier in California, adding more and more fueling stations in California, and more.

Bottom Line

There’s no question about it – renewable diesel is hot and there is no magic wand needed to see its growth and expansion beyond Kansas and around the globe. From cosmetics companies who are looking to renewable diesel for their manufacturing to fast food companies like Wendy’s partnering up with renewable diesel companies to use up their used cooking oil, it’s a magical time to live in and see the implementation, of renewable diesel, which has a bright future ahead of it.

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