Electrochemical Production of Hydrocarbons for Lubricants, Waxes and Fuels from Biological Feedstocks

C. Joshi, D. Malevich, J. Dambacher, F. Lockwood
Altranex Corporation,
Canada

Keywords: lubricants, wax, fuels, renewable, hydrocarbons, bio-chemicals, drop-in, motor oil, cosmetics, packaging

Summary:

Altranex Corporation produces hydrocarbons from biologically-derived fats, oils and greases. Through a patented combination of electro- and thermo-chemical processes, Altranex can produce hydrocarbons for use as high-performance lubricant base oils, cosmetic-quality waxes and mineral oils, drop-in renewable fuels, and other products. The core innovation in the Altranex process is an electrolysis process that simultaneously removes oxygen from free fatty acids and dimerizes the radicals to form longer hydrocarbon chains in an economical process. The processes are feedstock agnostic and can tolerate fats, oils and greases with very high free fatty acid content. The types and size of hydrocarbons produced depends on the feedstock selection. Altranex has successfully produced hydrocarbons from soybean, canola, tallow, lard, coconut, palm, and even used cooking oil. A primary focus of the Altranex-Valvoline partnership is the production of base oils for automotive and industrial lubricants. Base oil constitute 80-90% of lubricating oil with the balance being additives that impart characteristics for specific applications such as crankcase oil, transmission fluid and metal cutting oils. The Altranex process enables production of base oils with a very narrow size distribution leading to superior viscosity characteristics and excellent low temperature properties. Using Altranex’s base oil, Valvoline has formulated a multi-grade motor oil that has 1) characteristics comparable to synthetic motor oils; 2) favourable production cost structure; and 3) lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emission profile that petroleum-based motor oils. Other products from Altranex’s process technology include a range of paraffinic and microcrystalline waxes, synthetic mineral oil and renewable diesel fuel. The cosmetics-quality waxes can be produced with melting temperatures of 21 to 72 C. Synthetic mineral oils produced from renewable feedstock are high-purity low viscosity oils and the renewable diesel is a drop-in replacement that is oxygen-free and has a pour point less than -20 C.