Eni plays down Italian biorefinery fire

Italy’s energy group Eni said an incident at one of the furnaces at a biorefinery in southern Italy had triggered columns of smoke but had caused no damage to people or to plant.

“At 1330 today inside a furnace of the Ecofining plant at the Gela biorefinery there was a technical error that caused smoke for several minutes but with no consequences for people… or other plants at the refinery,” Eni said in a note.

The biorefinery at Gela, located in the southern island of Sicily, has a capacity of up to 750,000 tonnes per year of biofuel.

According to Eni, biorefineries contribute to the achievement of its main goal: the total decarbonisation of all products and processes by 2050:

“Advanced biofuels play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. Biorefineries, too, are the result of our constant commitment to research and technological innovation. Through the development of proprietary technologies patented by our Research Centres, we have completely redesigned the traditional refineries in Venice and Gela, where raw biomaterials are now processed: plant-based oils, animal fats, used cooking oils or algae extracts.”

The company claims to have a total processing capacity of 1.1 million tonnes per year and in its 2021-2024 Strategic Plan has set the goal of doubling total capacity by 2024, reaching 5–6 million tonnes by 2050:

“Furthermore, by 2023, our biorefineries will be palm oil free, meaning they will not use palm oil in production. Instead, alternative inputs, such as cooking and frying oils, animal fats and waste from plant-oil processing, and advanced inputs, such as algae, waste oils, as well as lignocellulosic materials and bio-oils, will be used.”

According to Eni, a further line of development in the field of advanced fuels produced from waste concerns the possibility of obtaining pyrolysis oil from the treatment of end-of-life tyres (ELTs).

This particular area is the subject of an agreement with Ecopneus signed in July 2021, to carry out studies and trials aimed at assessing the most suitable technologies for exploiting ELTs and obtaining both energy products (pyrolysis oil) and chemical products (asphalts, sports surfaces, acoustic insulation, street furniture, etc.) with a view to encouraging the circular economy.

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