Science Behind Technology

Oil pre-treatment technologies for HVO production

HVO 3The pre-treatment plants need to be designed to achieve the inlet specifications for the HVO unit. These specifications are mostly imposed by the HVO technology provider. Desmet Ballestra has experience with the specifications of the main providers of the HVO technologies.

Moreover, our pre-treatment plants are always designed in a way that the plant can handle multiple feedstocks and feedstock blends.

In the basic configuration, the pre-treatment plant will consist of only two process sections:

  • Step 1: Acid degumming with washing
  • Step 2: Dry pre-treatment with bleaching                    

The first step removes the bulk of the impurities, P and metals while the second step allows to achieve the very low levels for P (<3 ppm) and total metals (<10 ppm) that are required by the HVO licensors.

In most of the cases, the basic configuration is sufficient to treat most of the vegetable oils, UCO and other reasonable quality oils and fats and blends thereof.

However, the plants can the further customized in function of the feedstock mix that the client is considering, and which can be different from country to country in function of the locally available feedstocks. To do this the basic configuration can be completed with additional sections to achieve additional cleaning possibilities and to optimize the performance of the plant.

As possible options, the following sections can be added:

  • Enzymatic degumming – for plants working mainly on vegetable oils (rape, soya) to improve the yield of the degumming process
  • Oil clarification – for plants working with high impurities containing feedstocks
  • PE removal – for plants working on feedstocks with high PE content (low quality animal fats)
  • Double bleaching – for HVO plants that work on feedstocks with very high P & metal content and/or require extreme low levels for P (<1 ppm) and metals (<5 ppm total) – reduced bleaching earth consumption
  • FFA stripping – for HVO plants that are limited to a max. FFA (for example <5 w%) due to metallurgy of existing installations (revamping projects)


From the early stage of a project, Desmet Ballestra develops together with the client the set-up of the pre-treatment plants in function of the available feedstocks. Moreover, based on lab and pilot scale testing, the available feedstocks can further be evaluated to assure the right configuration of the pre-treatment plant.

With several high capacity pre-treatment plants in operation in the US and Europe, Desmet Ballestra has gained additional experience how to design the plants in order to achieve the best performance and also to assure the best availability of the plants. Our plant design is continuously updated to incorporate the latest findings.

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