In Italy, Eni has opened the most innovative bio-refinery in Europe at Gela. Launched in August 2019, the plant has a processing capacity of up to 750,000 metric tons a year and will be able to treat increasing quantities of used vegetable oil, animal fat, algae and by-products to produce high-quality biofuels.
All the petrochemical plants built in Gela since 1962 have closed down. In addition to the €294 million that has been spent so far on reconverting the refineries, Eni plans to invest another €73 million for further preliminary activities and pre-treating biomass, which will be finished by the third quarter of 2020 and will supply the bio-refinery with second-generation raw material, from waste, raw vegetable oil and advanced material.
The process of converting the traditional refinery into a bio-refinery began in April 2016 and took more than 3 million hours of work by Eni’s employees and third parties to finish. Significantly, there were also no accidents along the way. To create the Ecofining plant, the two existing desulphurization units were modified and a steam reforming unit was built to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen is a basic ingredient in hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), the biodiesel that, when added to fossil diesel at 15%, makes the premium fuel Enidiesel+.