Hydrogenation-Derived Renewable Diesel
Hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel (HDRD), also known as green diesel, is the product of fats or vegetable oils—alone or blended with petroleum—refined by a hydrotreating process. HDRD meets the petroleum diesel ASTM specification. This allows it to be legally used in existing diesel infrastructure and vehicles. HDRD derived from domestic biological materials is considered an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992.
HDRD can be produced from soybean, palm, canola, or rapeseed oil; animal tallow; vegetable oil waste or brown trap grease; and other fats and vegetable oils. Producing HDRD involves hydrogenating triglycerides to remove metals and compounds with oxygen and nitrogen using existing refinery infrastructure. Dedicated hydrotreating facilities that do not use conventional petroleum can also produce HDRD.
Fuel producers are designing HDRD to substitute for or blend in any proportion with petroleum-based diesel without modifying vehicle engines or fueling infrastructure. To be used in diesel engines, HDRD must meet the same ASTM standards as conventional diesel.
HDRD is compatible with existing fuel distribution systems. Blended HDRD can be distributed through modern infrastructure and transported through existing pipelines to dispense at fueling stations.
HDRD fuels can be an alternative to conventional transportation fuels. The benefits of HDRD fuels include:
Increased energy security—HDRD can be produced domestically from a variety of feedstocks while creating U.S. jobs.
Fewer emissions—Carbon dioxide captured by growing feedstocks reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions by balancing carbon dioxide released from burning HDRD. Blends of HDRD can reduce carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. In addition, HDRD's ultra-low sulfur content should enable the use of advanced emission control devices.
More flexibility—HDRD that meets quality standards can fuel modern diesel vehicles. This fuel is compatible with existing diesel distribution infrastructure (not requiring new pipelines, storage tanks, or retail station pumps), can be produced using existing oil refinery capacity, and does not require extensive new production facilities.
Higher performance—HDRD's high combustion quality results in similar or better vehicle performance compared to conventional diesel.
Research and Development
Manufacturers are performing most of the ongoing HDRD research and development. Some manufacturers—including ConocoPhillips, Neste Oil, Petrobras, REG, and UOP—are developing and testing HDRD refining processes in commercial settings. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports HDRD research and development, including UOP's work developing production technologies.
Learn more about hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel from the links below. The AFDC and U.S. Department of Energy do not necessarily recommend or endorse these companies (see disclaimer).
- Biomass News from the Green Car Congress
- Alberta Renewable Diesel Demonstration: An Assessment of Winter Operability and Infrastructure Integration
- California Renewable Diesel Multimedia Evaluation
- Biodiesel and Other Renewable Diesel Fuels
- From Biomass to Biofuels: NREL Leads the Way
- Liquid Fuels from Biomass