Neste Oil officially opens microbial-oil-from-residue pilot plant
Neste Oil is celebrating the official opening of Europe’s first pilot plant for producing microbial oil from waste and residues Oct. 26 at its site in Porvoo, Finland. Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Jyri Häkämies, carried out the opening ceremony. Microbial oil produced from industrial and agricultural residues, such as straw represents one of the most promising future raw materials for NExBTL renewable diesel.
“Increasing the use of waste and residues in the production of NExBTL renewable diesel is one of our most important goals,” said Lars Peter Lindfors, Neste Oil’s senior vice president, technology. “The start-up of the new microbial oil pilot plant represents a significant step towards achieving this goal, as the plant will test how various agricultural and forest industry residues can be converted into oil with the help of microbes. Agriculture in Finland and elsewhere, for example, produces large quantities of straw, but little of this straw is put to effective use. Thanks to the technology that we have developed, it will be possible to process straw into a feedstock for premium-quality renewable diesel in the future. Our microbial technology is also capable of handling many other raw materials as well.”
“The range of potential raw materials for producing biofuels is very extensive today,” said Jyri Häkämies, Finland's minister of economic affairs. “The work that Neste Oil and many other Finnish companies have done to develop new raw material alternatives and new production technologies indicates very clearly that Finland is well-placed to remain at the forefront of developments in this area and achieve some very important renewable energy-related goals.”
Neste Oil launched a microbial oil research program with with Aalto University School of Chemical Technology in 2007 and has applied for a number of patents for its technology in the field. Neste Oil announced last December that it was going to invest €8 million in building a microbial oil pilot plant alongside its technology center at Porvoo. The first phase of the plant was completed this August and has already successfully produced microbial-rich biomass. The pilot plant currently employs around 10 people directly and more indirectly.
The aim of Neste Oil’s R&D in the field is to develop a technology capable of producing microbial oil on an industrial scale. Microbial oil is expected to enter commercial production in 2015 at the earliest.