Economic and Environmental Analysis to Evaluate the Potential Value of Co-Optima Diesel Bioblendstocks to Petroleum Refiners

Yuan Jiang, George Zaimes, Shuyun Li, Troy Hawkins, Avantika Singh, Nicholas Carlson, Michael Talmadge, Daniel Gaspar, M. M. Ramirez-Corredores, Andrew Beck, Ben Young, Lauren Sittler, Aaron Brooker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus Citations


The U.S. petroleum refining sector is undergoing a period of historic transformation, catalyzed by the decarbonization of the U.S. economy. Diesel-boiling-range bioblendstocks have gained traction, owing to their superior fuel properties and environmental performance as compared to traditional petroleum fuels. This work couples refinery linear programming models with life cycle assessment to quantify the potential economic and environmental benefits, and trade-offs, of blending diesel-boiling-range bioblendstocks at petroleum refineries. Linear programming models were developed in Aspen Process Industry Modeling Systems (PIMS) for three representative petroleum refinery configurations of differing complexity. Seven diesel-boiling-range bioblendstocks: 4-butoxyheptane, 5-ethyl-4-propylnonane, soy biodiesel, sludge hydrothermal liquefaction diesel, polyoxymethylene ethers, renewable diesel, and hexyl hexanoate, were investigated to identify key fuel properties that influence refineries’ economics and to track the effect of adding bioblendstocks on refinery-wide cradle-to-gate greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. These analyses considered blending levels from 10 to 30 vol% and fuel demand projections over the period 2040 to 2050. This analysis determines that bioblendstock sulfur content and cetane number are the primary fuel attributes with the potential to provide value to refiners. Life cycle assessment results indicate that the use of diesel-boiling-range bioblendstocks can reduce cradle-to-gate refinery GHG emissions by up to ∼ 40 % relative to conventional refinery operations when considering carbon uptake in the supply chain of the bioblendstock. Refinery-wide marginal GHG abatement costs range from 120 to 3,600 USD2016/metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent avoided across the scenarios evaluated. Reducing the price of bioblendstocks is identified as a key to their adoption.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number126233
Number of pages16
Issue numberPart 1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-84688


  • Diesel-range bio-blendstocks
  • Economic value
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Refinery impact analysis


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