Elevance’s manufacturing platform integrates our proprietary technology in novel combinations with established industrial processes (metathesis, transesterification, hydrogenation) to create an integrated biorefinery with the capability of making both advanced biofuels and specialty chemicals. The ERS Biorefinery is a profitable asset at $45/barrel crude oil and delivers improved profitability of $300-900 per metric ton compared to traditional biodiesel plants.
Elevance’s biorefinery converts the triglycerides and fatty acids found in natural oils (such as plant, vegetable, and animal oils) into multiple fuel and chemical streams. The technology that drives ERS’s innovative processes is based on the work of Nobel Laureate Dr. Robert H. Grubbs, who pioneered the olefin metathesis process at Cal Tech. This next generation catalyst technology allows carbon atoms in natural oils to “swap” places, thereby enabling new chemical compounds and manufacturing processes once thought to be impossible. The technology is efficient, stable and predictable, and enables relatively simple processing using widely available industrial equipment. ERS’s biorefinery can handle multiple different feedstock oils and prefers those with high degrees of unsaturation, particularly mono-unsaturation. This is because metathesis, operates on carbon-carbon double bonds found at points of unsaturation. A schematic of the Elevance biorefinery is below:
As in a traditional petroleum refinery, manipulating the ERS biorefinery’s operating conditions and feedstock oil compositions will result in different relative proportions of the end products. This allows the biorefinery to vary, within some limits, the product distribution to maximize the economics of the total product suite. Furthermore, additional processing (beyond what is shown above) can be applied to the platform products to make them into additional downstream finished products.
Biorefinery construction is very capital efficient with a very similar capital cost as traditional biodiesel plant. However, capital efficiency can be dramatically improved by utilizing and repurposing existing biodiesel assets and /or integrating the Elevance biorefinery onto a natural oil refining site to reduce operating costs and logistics. The optimal target biorefinery scale is an estimated annual output of 150kmt to 350kmt per year.
Elevance’s biorefinery product and market focus includes developing chemistries from natural oils such as:
- Longer chain alpha and internal olefins (C6 and higher)
- Di-carboxylic acids (also referred to as diacids) and Di functional monomers (olefin/carboxylic functionality and derivatives) for use in polymers (i.e., polyamides, polyesters and epoxies) and powder coatings
- Performance waxes and as alternatives for paraffin and also for beeswax, carnuba, montan and other natural waxes
- Advanced biofuels including Bio and “green” diesel
- Oligomerized natural oils
- Esters for lubricants, surfactants, personal care and other applications