Flint Hills proposes $300 million refinery upgrade

Flint Hills Resources (FHR), Wichita, Kan., plans to invest $300 million in two projects that would improve both energy efficiency as well as clean fuels production at its 339,000-b/d Pine Bend refinery at Rosemount, Minn.

One project will include the addition of a combined heat and power (CHP) system that would allow the refinery to generate a portion of its own electricity, while a second project focuses on implementing a process for removing sulfur from gasoline and then using that to produce a stable form of fertilizer, the company said on Mar. 19.

The CHP system will use natural gas and a heat recovery process to produce up to about 50 Mw of electricity, roughly half of what’s required to power the refinery, Flint Hills said.

The company said it also expects the Pine Bend CHP system to use air-cooled condenser technology, which will save 400,000 gpd of water compared with traditional water-based cooling systems.

The clean fuels and fertilizer project at Pine Bend will establish a process for capturing sulfur that will help the refinery produce fuels that meet the US Environmental Protection Agency’s pending Tier 3 standard for gasoline (OGJ Online, Mar. 3, 2014).

The process at Pine Bend—which involves the conversion of sulfur and nitrogen removed from produced fuels into salable aqueous liquid fertilizer or ammonium thiosulfate (ATS)—will use a combination of two different technologies for removing ammonia and producing ATS that FHR believes to be the first of its kind implemented in the US, the company said.

While both projects still await permits from Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency as well as final approval from FHR’s management, if approved, construction could begin in early 2015, FHR said.

The CHP and clean fuels and fertilizer projects follow more than $400 million in projects that were approved last year and that are now being implemented to improve the Pine Bend refinery’s reliability, reduce key emissions, and improve its ability to convert crude oil into transportation fuels, according to FHR.

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