• Ron Kotrba

Eni opens renewable diesel feedstock pretreatment unit in Sicily

Updated: Mar 30

A new feedstock pretreatment unit began operating in March at Eni S.p.A.’s second converted oil refinery in Italy, which opened in fall 2019 in Gela, Sicily, where the company can produce up to 750,000 metric tons of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel.

According to Eni, the new unit will enable the biorefinery to use up to 100 percent of the biomass from used cooking oil and fats from fish and meat processing generated in Sicily for production of hydrotreated biofuel. The company also says castor oil will be used thanks to an experimental project to grow castor plants on semi-desert land in Tunisia, which is intended to completely replace palm oil—a feedstock that will no longer be used by Eni as of 2023.

Construction on the pretreatment unit in Gela began in early 2020 and, according to Eni, despite slowdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of the project was completed on schedule.

The company noted that the new system adds to the technology already in use in Gela, which includes Ecofining, the jointly developed Eni-UOP technology for hydrotreating renewable diesel and SAF; steam reforming to produce hydrogen, a necessary input for hydroprocessing; and the waste-to-fuel pilot plant, built by Eni Rewind, which transforms the organic fraction of municipal solid waste into bio-oil and biomethane.

The short- and long-term plans for Eni’s two renewable diesel and SAF manufacturing sites—one in Venice and the other in Gela—is to double production capability by 2024, hitting 2 million tons of capacity; and then further expanding to between 5 and 6 million tons by 2050.

In 2012, Eni was the first oil refiner in the world to announce a conversion project to transform one of its refineries, the one in Venice, to manufacture renewable diesel.

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