Neste Oil has completed the first phase of its project to build a pilot plant for producing microbial oil. Construction of the plant is on-schedule and on-budget. The first phase will enable the growth of oil-producing micro-organisms, and the following phases will concentrate on raw material pretreatment and oil recovery. The goal is to develop the technology so that it is capable of yielding commercial volumes of microbial oil for use as a feedstock for NExBTL renewable diesel. Commercial-scale production is expected by 2015 at the earliest.
'Work on the pilot plant has progressed according to plan and the technology has performed excellently,' according to Petri Lehmus, Neste Oil's Vice President, Research and Development. 'The plant is already generating microbial oil containing biomass, which is a great achievement.'
The pilot plant is expected to be fully complete in the second half of 2012 and represents an investment of approx. EUR 8 million by Neste Oil.
Waste and residues as inputs
The technology is designed to produce feedstock for NExBTL renewable diesel by using yeast and fungi to convert sugars from waste and residues into oil highly efficiently. It utilizes bioreactors similar to those used in the biotech and brewing industries. A wide range of different waste and residue materials can be used, such as straw and sidestreams from the pulp and paper industry, which makes feedstock optimization possible.
'Extending our feedstock base is a central component of our cleaner traffic strategy,' continues Petri Lehmus, 'and our aim is to focus on making use of waste and residues with the smallest possible carbon footprint for producing our renewable fuels. The new microbial oil pilot plant will make a very valuable contribution to achieving these goals.'
Europe's first microbial oil pilot plant
Microbial oil technology represents an attractive option, both because of its efficiency and its sustainability. Neste Oil has carried out pioneering research in the field and has applied for a number of patents covering its microbial oil technology. A number of partners have been involved in this work, including Aalto University.
'Our microbial oil pilot plant is the first of its kind in Europe, and Finnish research in the area is highly advanced worldwide,' says Lehmus.
The pilot plant currently employs 10 people and a number of other people indirectly.
Neste Oil first announced its decision to invest in a plant dedicated to producing microbial oil on 15 December 2011.
Neste Oil Corporation
Director Corporate Communications
Petri Lehmus, Vice President, Research and Development, tel. +358 (0)50 458 3150
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Neste Oil in brief
Neste Oil Corporation is a refining and marketing company concentrating on low-emission, high-quality traffic fuels, and is the world's leading supplier of renewable diesel. Neste Oil had net sales of EUR 15.4 billion in 2011 and employs around 5,000 people. Neste Oil's share is listed on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki.
Neste Oil has been selected for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the Ethibel Excellence Investment Register. Neste Oil 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. The flexibility of Neste Oil's technology means that NExBTL renewable fuels can be produced from virtually any type of vegetable oil or waste fat.
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Source: Neste Oil Oyj via Thomson Reuters ONE HUG#1636954