Phillips 66’s Humber refinery advances renewables projects

Nov. 19, 2020
Phillips 66 has received a major piece of equipment for a project to increase production of renewable fuels at its 221,000-b/d Humber refinery at South Killingholme in North Lincolnshire, UK, about 180 miles north of London on England’s eastern coast.

Phillips 66 has received a major piece of equipment for a project to increase production of renewable fuels at its 221,000-b/d Humber refinery at South Killingholme in North Lincolnshire, UK, about 180 miles north of London on England’s eastern coast.

Built by Fabricom SA’s ENGIE Fabricom UK and delivered to the Humber site as of Nov. 18, the 15-m tall, 80-tonne processing module—which includes two reactors and nearly 600 m of pipework—will convert used cooking oil (UCO) to expand the refinery’s renewable diesel production capacity to 3,000 b/d from its current 1,000-b/d capacity by January 2021, Phillips 66 said.

As the UK’s first refinery to convert waste oil into road fuel, the Humber refinery—which began production of renewable diesel in 2018—also has plans under way to increase low-carbon, renewable fuels production at the site another 2,000 b/d to 5,000 b/d by 2024, according to the operator.

“[Our new UCO module] highlights the refinery’s commitment and investment to further expand our production of biofuels and reinforces our reputation as the refinery of the future,” said Darren Cunningham, Humber refinery’s general manager and Phillips 66 lead executive for the UK.

The UCO-to-renewable-diesel project also reaffirms Phillips 66 and the Humber refinery’s commitment to creating a lower-carbon future in the UK and beyond, the operator said.

The Humber biofuels project follows Phillips 66’s recent announcement that it is permanently ceasing processing of crude oil at the 120,000-b/d portion of its San Francisco refining complex in Rodeo, Calif., and converting the plant into a renewable fuels refinery as part of a $750-800-million investment strategy in the operator’s energy transition to ensure long-term viability and competitiveness of its operations (OGJ Online, Aug. 13, 2020).

Humber renewable hydrogen project

Alongside addition of the UCO-to-renewable-diesel capacity expansion, the Humber refinery also is progressing on a project that will use renewable hydrogen to produce fuels at the site.

The pilot project—named Gigastack—is a collaboration between Phillips 66 UK subsidiary Phillips 66 Ltd., Danish wind farm developer and operator Ørsted AS, hydrogen systems developer ITM Power PLC, and UK-based consultancy Element Energy Ltd. that aims to harness offshore wind from Ørsted to generate renewable electricity that would be used to power electrolysis for production of hydrogen, a low-emission fuel capable of powering transportation and heavy industry, as well as multiple refining processes, Phillips 66 said on Feb. 24.

As part of the project’s first phase, ITM Power designed a 5-Mw electrolyzer stack that, under the second phase, will be installed and trialed for development of a 100-Mw electrolyzer system equipped to use the renewable electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas, the latter of which would be fed to Humber for uses that include lowering the sulfur content of diesel fuel, according to Phillips 66.

Launched earlier this year, the project’s second phase—which has secured £7.5 million (nearly $10 million) in funding from the British government as part of a £90-million ($117-million) package to cut UK carbon emissions—includes execution of front-end engineering design (FEED) study for the 100-Mw electrolyzer system, Phillips 66 and Element Energy said in separate February releases.

“[The Gigastack project also] aligns with our record of developing new low-carbon markets within the UK and worldwide,” said Cunningham, referring to the Humber refinery’s role both in the electric vehicle revolution via its production of specialty coke—which is used to manufacture batteries—and its production of renewable diesel from USO.

The project additionally provides an opportunity for Phillips 66 and its partners to develop a new renewable hydrogen market based on a feedstock of only water and renewable power, according to Cunningham.

“This [project] is an important part of our world-leading efforts in eliminating our contribution to climate change by 2050 while also growing our economy, creating up to 2 million green-collar jobs across the country by 2030,” UK Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng said upon announcing government funding for the project in February.

In a Sept. 9 presentation on the project, Mike Wailes—Phillip 66’s director of European strategy—said the Humber refinery would use the hydrogen supply in hydrotreating processes for production of both conventional and waste-based fuels, refueling of refinery heaters, and possible future expansions such as battery coke opportunities, which require hydrotreating capability.

The Humber refinery, which already runs at up to 40% hydrogen in fuel gas, is currently assessing requirements to run beyond that level, according to Wailes.