REG cooperates with ISU on hydrotreater pilot plant

From Renewable Energy Group Inc. | October 11, 2021

  • SOURCE: Christopher Gannon, Iowa State University. “/>

Ames-based biofuel maker Renewable Energy Group Inc. joined Iowa State University for a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 4th at BioCentury Research Farm to celebrate the start of a new hydrotreating pilot plant. This project is the result of a three year collaboration between REG and the ISU Bioeconomy Institute.

REG is a global manufacturer of advanced biofuels that converts waste and by-product fats and oils, known as raw materials, into biodiesel and renewable diesel, both cleaner alternatives to traditional petroleum diesel. The ISU BCRF is an integrated research and demonstration facility dedicated to biomass production and processing. This hydrotreater pilot plant will leverage the expertise of both organizations to better understand how various biomass feedstocks can play a role in the production of renewable fuels, with a particular focus on renewable diesel.

“This project is the result of our longstanding partnership with Iowa State University and our shared interest in continuing to position the state of Iowa as a hub for innovation and excellence,” said Cynthia (CJ) Warner, president and CEO of REG. “As one of the first biodiesel and renewable diesel manufacturers in the country, innovation is in our DNA and the ability to develop additional feedstock options for our industry will help meet the growing demand for cleaner fuels.”

Renewable diesel is a low-carbon, clean fuel that can convert feedstock into a hydrocarbon fuel chemically similar to conventional diesel through a catalytic process using heat, pressure, and hydrogen known as hydrotreating. Research in this new hydrotreater pilot facility will support REG’s renewable diesel power plant in Geismar, Louisiana by helping evaluate new low carbon feedstocks and optimize renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production.

REG’s renewable diesel manufacturing facility in Geismar, Louisiana was the first renewable diesel manufacturing facility in the United States and currently produces 90 million gallons of renewable diesel per year. By 2023, the facility will have the capacity to produce 340 million gallons of renewable diesel through an improvement and expansion project announced by REG in 2020. By working on the Hydrotreater pilot plant, REG will continue to build on the abundance of raw materials for the growing renewable diesel and biodiesel industries.

“ISU is a premier research facility on the cutting edge of agriculture and biomass use, and REG is an industry leader in converting waste biomass into renewable fuels,” said Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University. “This project is a great collaboration that underlines the commitment to innovation and uses the strengths of REG and ISU.”

The pilot plant is a state-of-the-art, multi-reactor research and development unit designed by REG engineering teams to accelerate the development of new raw materials and processes. The system is fully automated and configured in such a way that it runs safely and reliably for weeks.

Representatives from REG and ISU as well as some members of the community took part in the ribbon cutting event. Both President & CEO Warner and President Wintersteen attended the event.

For more information about REG, visit and visit to learn more about the BioCentury Research Farm.

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