Essar Stanlow – Bio diesel pre-treatment facility
The bio diesel pre-treatment facility, partially opened in August of this year, will be part of an expansion for the already existing Essar Stanlow Oil Refinery.
Cheshire West and Cheshire Council granted authority to the Development Planning Manager to approve the application for processing of waste oils in the area near Ellesmere Port. This was part of an expansion of pre-treatment hubs across the UK for the cleaning of waste oils and fats from wastewater treatment plants for use in the chemical bio-diesel production.
Argent Energy is planning to build two facilities in this area with this pre-treatment facility being the first. The second plant – situated next door – will be the bio diesel plant where cleaned materials from the first site will be used to make bio diesel.
Partially open and running since August, the facility is going through a three-part stage commissioning phase with the second phase of commissioning about to take place. The building itself was situated on an old Brownfield site within the Essar refinery before being built upon by Argent Energy. Working with BDI Bio Energy ground was broken in March 2015 and 15 months later a product was produced.
“The pre-treatment facility takes in types of oil of various quality, from used cooking oil to animal fats to food waste, which will go through a variety of specific unit operations to clean up the oil,” commented Scott MacMillan, Group Operating Director of Argent Energy. “It then goes through a bespoke chemical process to reduce what’s termed as ‘free fatty acids’, which is a measure of the level of degradation of the oil. To make bio diesel we need to reduce this to below 10%, which is undertaken in this first plant.”
Around the size of a football pitch, the plant is a 60ft steel framed building with concrete slabs and 40 metre piles that create its foundation. Like most chemical waste facilities the interior holds process vessels, pipes, and pumps, and the process control room sits in the centre where the plant will be operated from. Laker Vent Engineering Limited were awarded the Mechanical, Process and Utility piping systems for the Stanlow phase one site, by Scott MacMillan. Under a stringent tender process they worked closely with the Argent team to provide a quality service that would allow the plant to be in operation.
“It also has a variety of different intake reception areas to allow the offload of material into the facility from either a pump or direct from a truck,” commented Scott, “the plant can take material in various receptacles be it skips or tipper truck or any other load as it’s set up to receive material in any sort of container.” Due to the nature of the development the building had to be well ventilated which is implemented through the extraction fans placed throughout. Towards the rear of the plant is the area where the chemical process will take place with its distillation technology.
For a development such as this, environmental factors had to be taken into consideration when planning the build. “When we set out the build, we made sure that this was as environmentally friendly a building as we could come up with. The building itself has been designed to take into account the local environment and local area. All the waste water that comes from the site is treated through the Essar refinery and we also have well controlled run-offs,” commented Scott. Argent Energy have built the plant with the environment in mind, “we’ve taken into account the re-use of waste water and we’ll have a steam system on site which will use waste gas to fuel our boilers. We recycle as much of the condensate from the steam as possible so that we reuse the maximum amount of energy.”
The ventilation system that has been put in place within the plant means the air goes through a bio-filter to eliminate smells to the environment. “We have a specific ventilation system that takes the fumes through the bio-filter so we don’t have any odour problems with any of the material.” To help keep the amount of energy used down to a minimum, the most modern LED type of lighting was installed.
The Argent team faced no major challenges that they were not able to overcome from the beginning planning stage to the recent phases of commissioning.
The importance of the project has not been lost on Scott. The majority of the build was done using local labour to help employment within the local area. “From a community view point, we’re creating jobs and putting life back into an area that has seen gradual decline in terms of employment numbers and with the bio diesel plant being built next door those numbers will roughly double.”
“From a business point of view, the site is in a good location for the supply chain as well as for us supplying materials once the bio diesel plant is running. We will be able to supply more easily into the Midlands and the South of England.”