Alternative Fuel Center

image of hydroprocessing pilot plant

Hydroprocessing pilot plant

The Chemical Engineering Department of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) operates a fuel processing center that includes a hydroprocessing pilot plant and two continuous vacuum-distillation columns. Other unit operations are available including:

  • Filtration
  • Wiped-film evaporation
  • Partial oxidation
  • Blending

To accommodate a wide variety of feedstocks, from heavy raw shale oil to vegetable oils, the hydroprocessing facility is designed to operate at conditions up to 3250 psig and 1000°F in the reaction section and can recirculate 250 SCFH of hydrogen.

The configuration of the pilot plant equipment can be modified to meet the project needs for:

  • Hydrogenation
  • Hydrocracking
  • Hydroisomerization
  • Other fixed-bed reactor processing

Feed rates of up to five gallons per hour allow economical processing of fuel R&D test quantities of up to 5,000 gallons.

Example work at the SwRI Alternative Fuel Center includes:

  • Conversion of raw shale oil to ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) and jet fuel
  • Conversion of chicken fat to jet fuel
  • Processing of beef tallow and soybean oil to “drop-in” diesel fuel
  • Production of high purity octadecane from canola and soybean oils

image for alternative fuel center

Biodiesel development


image of fuel processing center

Fuel processing center

image of coal liquefaction pilot plant Coal liquefaction pilot plant


Related Terminology

biodiesel development  •  pilot plant integration  •  fuel processing  •  coal liquefaction  •  hydroprocessing pilot plant  •  fuel processing  •  fuel blending  •  hydrogenation  •  hydrocracking  •  hydroisomerization  •  fixed-bed reactor processing  •  alternative fuel


Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.
04/15/14