If you searched the internet for other plants using conversion of olefins to distillate (COD) technology, you would not find any. That’s because PetroSA operates the only COD plant in the world – another example of our proven talent for innovation.
The COD process involves synthesizing petrol and diesel by adding together short-chain unsaturated carbons to form longer chain hydrocarbons in the petrol and diesel boiling range. This is carried out at relatively high temperatures and pressures over a catalyst.
PetroSA has used COD commercially technology since 1992. Today, it is rapidly emerging as a fuels technology of the future.
Among other reasons, this is because rising oil prices are intensifying the demand for cheaper raw materials and more efficient, more cost-effective processes. At the same time, there is an accelerating worldwide trend towards high quality diesel − and COD diesel is exceptionally good.
COD has a number of other important strengths. It produces relatively pure fuels that are low in sulphur and aromatics and meet stringent specifications such as Euro V. These fuels have significantly better exhaust emission properties than their conventionally produced equivalents. This makes them particularly suitable as blend materials for conventional and bio-derived fuels. What’s more, COD fuels have outstanding cold flow properties, making them highly attractive in countries with cold winters. In fact, diesel derived from COD has been used in special applications in the polar regions, such as polar diesel.
COD also produces specialty fuels and solvents that are low in aromatic content, and are used as indoor fuels and biodegradable drilling fluids. With their environmentally friendly qualities, these products are among the cleanest on the market.
Even though PetroSA is a COD technology leader with no followers, we continue to explore new ways of doing good things even better and more cheaply while reducing our dependence on traditional feedstocks, an important factor in today’s tough economic climate. In parallel, we are focusing on making our processes greener. In future, for example, it is possible that we could use biologically derived components to feed our COD plant.
With the future in mind, we have signed an agreement with the University of the Western Cape on that has to two important objectives: to further develop COD and its associated technologies for PetroSA; and to help develop our country’s human capital.