Techno-Economic Analysis for Co-Processing Fast Pyrolysis Liquid with Vacuum Gasoil in FCC Units for Second-Generation Biofuel Production

Michael Talmadge, Christopher Kinchin, Helena Chum, Andrea de Rezende Pinho, Mary Biddy, Marlon de Almeida, Luiz Casavechia

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29 Scopus Citations


National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Petrobras have worked closely to develop process models and analysis approaches to assess the economic feasibility of co-processing bio-oils (pyrolysis oils) with fossil feedstocks in petroleum refinery unit operations. Petrobras conducted co-processing experiments with pine-derived bio-oils and Brazilian vacuum gasoil (VGO) at typical operating conditions on their 200 kg/h demonstration-scale fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit. NREL evaluated the experimental yield data and developed novel modeling approaches to simulate and optimize co-processing scenarios. Within the uncertainties of measurements and the simplified refinery models used, the process modeling and techno-economic analysis (TEA) results identify conditions in which co-processing bio-oils could be economically feasible for the case of refiners purchasing VGO, expanding prior work demonstrating technical feasibility. TEA scenarios show a high potential for bio-oil co-processing to be economically attractive for petroleum refiners for benchmark crude oil prices at $70 (U.S. dollars) per barrel using up to 5 wt% bio-oil produced with typical fast pyrolysis technology (≤400 t/d) fed with dried pine chips. For oil prices per barrel of $55–$60, up to 10 wt% bio-oil could be co-processed profitably if produced in pyrolysis plants performing at an “nth-plant” level, feeding 2,000 t/d with dried pine chip feedstocks producing bio-oil at $48–$56 per barrel from feedstock ranging from $99-$132 per t ($90–$120 per ton). Alternatively, low-price biomass feedstocks could make bio-oil co-processing viable at lower oil prices in both cases.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number119960
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-77880


  • Bio-oil from fast pyrolysis
  • Co-processing in fluid catalytic cracking
  • Petroleum refining
  • Pine wood
  • Refinery modeling and integration
  • Techno-economic analysis
  • Vacuum gasoil


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