Chevron Corp. subsidiary Chevron USA Inc. has completed the conversion and startup of an existing diesel hydrotreating unit for flexible production of renewable fuels at its El Segundo refinery in southern California.
Now equipped with Chevron Lummus Global LLC’s (CLG) proprietary ISOTERRA technology—including catalyst and reactor internals—the newly converted diesel hydrotreater is capable of flexibly producing diesel from either 100% renewable or traditional crude oil feedstocks, CLG said on Nov. 7.
An all-hydroprocessing route that can be operated to maximize yields of ASTM-approved renewable diesel or sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), CLG’s ISOTERRA technology involves a two-step process that begins with hydrodeoxygenation of lipid-rich feedstock followed by isomerization using CLG’s proprietary fifth-generation EnHance catalyst to meet final cold-flow property specifications.
While neither CLG nor Chevron have officially confirmed capacity of the IOSTERRA unit, Chevron previously anticipated El Segundo’s converted diesel hydrotreater to reach 100%-renewable capability during 2023 with a renewable diesel production capacity of 10,000 b/d, according to the operator’s website.
CLG’s confirmation of the ISOTERRA unit’s startup at El Segundo follows Chevron’s announcement to investors during its third-quarter 2023 earnings presentation that the refinery had completed conversion of the diesel hydrotreater.
Chevron USA first ratably coprocessed about 2,000 b/d of plant-based oil, or biofeedstock, in a fluid catalytic cracking unit at El Segundo to produce gasoline and diesel—as well as a batch of SAF—third-quarter 2021, Chevron said on its website.
Other renewable fuels conversion projects
In its 2023 proxy statement to investors issued in April, Chevron said it also had completed concept selection and would be moving forward into front-end engineering and design for a renewable fuels project at Chevron USA’s 369,000-b/d refinery in Pascagoula, Miss.
While it did not disclose further details regarding the Pascagoula project, the operator said in its April statement that “other [unidentified renewable fuels] conversion projects at El Segundo and [its 257,000-b/d refinery in Richmond, Calif.] have intentionally been put on hold due to current economics.”
The renewable fuels projects collectively come as part of Chevron’s broader aim to grow its combined renewable fuels production capacity for renewable diesel, SAF, biodiesel, and other biofuels to 100,000 b/d by 2030 in line with its goals for a lower-carbon future (OGJ Online, June 13, 2022).