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  • Elessent Clean Technologies

Trafigura selects IsoTherming® technology for grassroots diesel hydrotreater in Argentina

Photo: Elessent Clean Technologies

Elessent Clean Technologies announced in early September the signing of license and engineering contracts with Trafigura for the construction of a state-of-the-art IsoTherming® diesel hydrotreater at the Bahía Blanca Refinery in Argentina.

The diesel hydrotreater is scaled at 125 standard cubic meters per hour, or 18,870 barrels (792,540 gallons) per stream day.

According to Elessent, the addition of the IsoTherming® diesel hydrotreater will “revolutionize” the refining capabilities of the Bahía Blanca Refinery, which currently operates on domestic crude sourced from the Vaca Muerta and other regions of Argentina.

“This groundbreaking project represents a major investment by Trafigura in expanding the refinery’s diesel capacity and enhancing its ability to produce and sell ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) domestically,” Elessent stated.

The company added that the move will also position the refinery to meet the upcoming regulation that requires a reduction in the maximum sulfur content in ULSD to 10 parts per million.

According to Elessent, IsoTherming® technology is the lowest available carbon-intensity technology on the market, which will reduce the refinery’s total carbon footprint.

“Not only does this technology enhance the quality of diesel fuel by efficiently removing sulfur, nitrogen and other impurities, but it also has much lower carbon emissions than a traditional hydroprocessing unit,” the company stated. “Through the use of a liquid-full reaction zone and an effluent-recycle loop, the IsoTherming® technology requires less heating from the feed-charge heater, resulting in less fuel-gas burned.”

The resulting ULSD fuel complies with stringent emission regulations and also facilitates cleaner combustion in diesel engines.

“This cleaner combustion translates to a significant decrease in carbon dioxide and particulate-matter emissions, mitigating the adverse impact of diesel-powered transportation on air quality in the region as well as global climate change,” Elessent stated.

Additionally, the diesel-hydrotreater unit will be designed to optionally coprocess renewable feedstock in the form of vegetable oil, giving the refinery the latitude to replace a portion of its feed with a nonfossil-fuel source while producing a high-quality diesel product.

This is a significant opportunity to further reduce carbon emissions and enhance sustainability measures.

The exploration of coprocessing exemplifies Trafigura’s dedication to environmental responsibility and aligns with the global effort to transition to cleaner fuel sources.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Trafigura over the course of this project, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to build this working relationship,” said Samantha Presley, Elessent’s global business leader of new capacity for refining technologies. “We have offered a high-quality solution to the refinery and, due to the characteristics of IsoTherming® technology, the unit at the Bahía Blanca Refinery will reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by approximately 50 percent in comparison to traditional hydrotreating technology.”

The addition of the diesel hydrotreater is expected to provide significant advantages to Trafigura, the Bahía Blanca Refinery, and the country of Argentina, according to Elessent.

By increasing domestic production capacity, Trafigura can bolster its position as a key player in the market and further enhance its contribution to the fuel security of Argentina.

“This hydroprocessing unit will allow Trafigura to continue offering high-quality diesel to the market by replacing their current imported diesel with domestic feeds and products to grow the local economy,” said Ramiro Gonzalez, Elessent’s business-development manager for refining technologies in Latin America.

Startup of the new Trafigura IsoTherming® unit is expected for 2025-’26.

The IsoTherming® hydroprocessing technology utilizes a novel liquid-phase reactor system offering distinct advantages over conventional hydroprocessing technologies in that it uses hydrogen and catalyst more efficiently.

IsoTherming® technology is suitable for a wide range of applications, including 100 percent kerosene hydrotreating, 100 percent light-cycle oil (LCO) hydrotreating, transmix hydrotreating, diesel hydrotreating, FCC feed hydrotreating (VGO hydrotreating), mild hydrocracking, renewables coprocessing, dewaxing, gas-to-liquid (GTL) upgrading, and heavy-oil upgrading for both grassroots and revamp configurations.

Licensed and marketed by Elessent Clean Technologies, the IsoTherming® technology has been licensed in 30 refineries worldwide with capacities ranging from 1,500 barrels per day (bpd) to 80,000 bpd.

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