SPOTLIGHT | SAF Feedstock Flexibility via Pretreatment

With the distinct knowhow that BDI BioEnergy has gained regarding oils and fats in general since the early 1990s, the company knows all the critical factors and is able to provide appropriate, tailor-made solutions.
By SAF Magazine | August 19, 2023

With demand for SAF feedstocks likely to see considerable competition, a crucial aspect for consideration is feedstock sourcing well into the future.  What an operation is able to source now may be vastly different in the years to come, and building in that flexibility in the beginning or early on could be paramount to the plant’s profitability. “Some just assume they will be able to get what they want—but it’s limited,” says Manfred Baumgartner, CEO at BDI BioEnergy International. “All projects that are designed on a basis of relatively good feedstock qualities, I think in the future they will have more problems, as good-quality feedstocks will become more expensive.”

That’s because good-quality feedstocks require less treatment, smaller investments and lower operating costs. While ideal for processing, demand-driven price increases could force some producers to look at lower-quality feedstocks. “And then, the plant may not be built for this,” Baumgartner says.  Having the ability to adapt to utilize lower-quality feedstocks will be a key parameter in the success of many operations, from BDI’s perspective. The company’s advanced PreTreatment Process is designed to purify vegetable oils and waste oils and fats for renewable diesel and SAF production. allowing operators to test and utilize a very wide range of varying-quality feedstocks. “We ask our customers, what about the future? What will you get, and how will you keep availability high? Again, this is a topic of initial investment vs operability.”

Waste feedstocks include different types of impurities compared to fresh vegetable oils; therefore, a flexible pretreatment process configuration is essential to the capacity to handle all impurities, Baumgartner says. This applies in particular if different types of feedstock are processed in the same production line.

With the distinct knowhow that BDI has gained regarding oils and fats in general since the early 1990s—waste fatty feedstocks in particular—the company knows all the critical factors and is able to provide the appropriate, tailor-made solution. “We have competence and experience to design and build flexible and reliable pretreatment and biofuel plants, and as a full service provider, we accompany our customers throughout the process, starting from feedstock evaluation in the laboratory, to start-up of the pretreatment plant, to support afterward,” Baumgartner adds. “The design and operation of the pretreatment process is a key topic regarding the reliable, efficient and economic biofuel production.”