Neste Oil is to build a pilot plant to produce waste-based microbial oil at its Porvoo refinery. It will be the first pilot plant in Europe designed to produce microbial oil for use in manufacturing renewable fuel from waste-based raw materials.
The plant will be used to develop microbial oil production processes and test various raw materials for producing microbial oil, such as straw and other agricultural residues, as well as industrial waste and residues. The plant will support Neste Oil's goal of using microbial oil to produce NExBTL renewable diesel in the future. The facility is due to be completed in the second half of 2012 and represents an investment of approx. EUR 8 million.
"In strategic terms, this is a very important decision for us, as the new pilot plant will enable us to progress to the next stage in our microbial oil development work," says Neste Oil's Vice President, Research and Technology Petri Lehmus. "The decision very much supports Neste Oil's strategy aimed at extending our raw material base."
Neste Oil has already succeeded in producing NExBTL renewable diesel from microbial oil at laboratory scale. The new pilot plant is an important step on the way to scaling up the technology to commercial capability.
"The next stages in our development work will concentrate on tuning the production process and enabling it to operate on an industrial scale. Commercial production of microbial oil is likely to be possible by 2015 at the earliest," says Lehmus.
Making use of waste and residues
Neste Oil applied for patents covering its microbial oil technology in fall 2010. The technology enables to produce microbial oil from waste and residues with the help of fungi for use as a raw material for producing NExBTL diesel. These microbes break down waste and residues into sugars to grow and produce oil.
"Our aim is to make use of waste and residue materials that offer the maximum potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Waste-based microbial oil is a very promising raw material, in terms of its efficient production potential and sustainability," continues Lehmus.
As fungi do not require sunlight to grow, they can be grown virtually anywhere. Microbial oil production can be safely carried out in the bioreactors widely employed by today's brewers and biotechnology companies.
Finland is a pioneer in microbial oil production
Neste Oil has carried out pioneering collaborative work with Aalto University School of Chemical Technology on developing microbial oil technology, and this know-how has been used to develop practical applications.
"Finland has become one of the pioneers in the world of microbial oil research, and I believe that the results of our work are of international significance," says Petri Lehmus.
Neste Oil has a long history of developing lower-emission traffic fuels. The company currently invests approx. EUR 40 million annually in R&D, of which around 80% is linked to work on renewable raw materials, focused on areas such as algae and forest industry waste, in addition to microbial oil.
Neste Oil's NExBTL technology is capable of using virtually any vegetable oil or waste fat to produce renewable fuel. Crude palm oil, various waste and by-products (waste animal fat, stearin, and palm fatty acid distillate), together with rapeseed oil and soy bean oil, are currently used as feedstocks.
Neste Oil Corporation
Neste Oil Corporation is a refining and marketing company concentrating on low-emission, high-quality traffic fuels. The company produces a comprehensive range of major petroleum products and is the world's leading supplier of renewable diesel. The company had net sales of EUR 11.9 billion in 2010 and employs around 5,000 people. Neste Oil's share is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki.
Neste Oil has been selected for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the Ethibel Excellence investment register. The company is included in The Global 100 list of the world's most sustainable corporations; and Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) has ranked Neste Oil as the best performer in the oil & gas sector. Further information: www.nesteoil.com.
NExBTL renewable diesel
Neste Oil's NExBTL renewable diesel is compatible with all diesel engines, either used at 100% content or blended with fossil diesel. Its chemical composition is the same as that of fossil diesel and offers either equivalent or better quality properties. The product has been tested extensively and successfully around the world in trucks, buses, and cars. Use of the fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared to fossil diesel and reduces tailpipe emissions significantly as well. Neste Green diesel, containing a minimum of 10% renewable diesel, is available in Finland.
12/15/2011, Bioweb/Neste Oil press release