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Neste Oil Aims to Become World’s Leading Producer of Second-Generation Renewable Diesel

27 September 2006

Nexbtl2
NExBTL, Neste’s second-generation renewable diesel, has outperformed FT GTL fuels in emissions tests. Click to enlarge.

Neste Oil’s Board of Directors has approved a strategy aimed at making the company the world’s leading producer of second-generation renewable diesel fuel.

The Finnish company has developed a refinery-based proprietary technology it calls NExBTL for the high-pressure hydrogenation of fatty acids. The process can use a flexible input of any vegetable oil or animal fat and produce a product with characteristics similar to Fischer-Tropsch output. (Earlier post.)

The NExBTL process is different than both the transesterification process used to produced fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) and Fischer-Tropsch conversion used in BTL projects.

Fuel Property Comparison
NExBTLGTLBiodiesel
(RME)
Sulfur-free
diesel
Density at +15º C (kg/m3 775 ... 785 770 ... 785 ~885 ~835
Viscosity at +40º C (mm2/s 2.9 ... 3.5 3.2 ... 4.5 ~4.5 ~3.5
Cetane number ~84 ... 99 ~73 ... 81 ~51 ~53
Cloud point (ºC) ~ -5 ... -30 ~ 0 ... -25 ~ -5 ~ -5
Heating value (lower) (MJ/kg) ~44 ~43 ~38 ~43
Heating value (MJ/liter) ~ 34 ~ 34 ~ 34 ~ 36
Polyaromatic content (wt %) 0 0 0 0
Oxygen content (wt %) 0 0 ~ 11 0
Sulfur content (mg/kg) < 10 < 10 < 10 < 10

Oil refining will remain as Neste Oil’s central business, however, and the company will continue to invest in new conversion capacity at its current refineries.

The foundation of Neste Oil’s strategy will remain based on the company’s ability to use its unique refining know-how to produce high-quality fuels for cleaner traffic from a variety of lower-cost raw materials. Neste Oil expects to invest several billion euros in growth projects over the next 10 years.

The central message that we want to communicate is that we have both the will and the financial resources to invest in growth in the areas where we are strong. By following our strategy, we will make the best use of our know-how. We are aiming to be the world’s leading biodiesel producer, which means production volumes of millions of tons annually. Our proprietary biodiesel, which is based on a long-term R&D effort, can be produced from a variety of vegetable oils and animal fats—and is a premium-quality fuel that clearly outperforms both the vegetable oil and crude oil-based diesel fuels currently on the market.

We will build several biodiesel production facilities in various market areas, either alone or with partners, in the years to come. In addition, we will be even more active in research and development in the biofuels area to utilize different renewable raw materials—while continuing to invest in new conversion capacity at our refineries in Porvoo and Naantali.

—Risto Rinne, Neste Oil President & CEO

Neste’ largest-ever investment in a new diesel production line at the Porvoo refinery is due to be completed this winter, and is expected to enhance the company’s cash flow significantly.

The Board has reviewed a number of strategic options of how we can best ensure that this enhanced profitability and cash flow benefits our shareholders. And we have concluded that a strong growth strategy, based on biodiesel production and driven by our own technology, is the best way of generating shareholder value.

—Timo Peltola, the Chairman of Neste Oil’s Board of Directors

The Board defined the company’s vision to be “The leading provider of cleaner traffic fuels.”

Resources:

September 27, 2006 in Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL), Europe, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)

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I am all for renewable diesel and happy to see their dedication. Two things I wonder about though:
1) Where are they going to get the plant or animal oils to use as feedstocks? This is already a limiting factor for conventional biodiesel.
2) The cetane numbers for their fuel, 84 to 99, are sky high. Will this cause any problems? On the flip side, maybe their fuel could be blended with fairly heavy petrodiesel to increase its cetane, which should improve combustion and decrease soot.

I suspect that they are able (like TDP) to use dirty waste fat/oils (lipids) unlike biodiesel. Hence I would imagine the following feedstocks would be important:
1. Slaughterhouse waste
2. Restaurant grease
3. Wastewater scum (?)

The cetane number is indeed sky high. I see two ways to address that: further refining and blending with fossil diesel. As a hydrocarbon fuel it can be blended in any ratio with fossil diesel without problems, again unlike biodiesel (i.e. methyl esters).

The problems as I see it are the requirements for fat and external hydrogen. FT diesel from sawdust (eg Choren process) needs neither but seems to be stalled.


"An Engineer" needs to go back to school.

Biodiesel can be made from restaurant waste oil...see 'Appleseed'. Biodiesel CAN be blended with Dino diesel in any ratio without problems. We have been running biodiesel in our TDI's from 20% to 99% since 2000 without any problems.

FT diesel from sawdust gets it's hydrogen from the sawdust in the gasification process, in this case some of the feedstock could be gasified and purified to generate the H2 for the hydrocracking process. I'd like to see a breakdown of energy inputs / energy balance for the various process, I suspect this one is more efficient than the various FT techniques, but it's hard to know.

And I might add that if "An Engineer" wants to post ignorant info such as what he posted above, he would be better off on a child's website.

"Disagreement is fine, insults, abuse or.... Comments not meeting those standards will be deleted."

These are the rules of the road. Keep them in mind.

The problems as I see it are the requirements for fat and external hydrogen. FT diesel from sawdust (eg Choren process) needs neither but seems to be stalled.
True - the quantity of hydrogen would be very low though: on the order of 27 kg/ton of product (2.7%). I doubt the hydrogen would sink the project.

As you point out, getting enough fat/oil (lipids) to make enough oil to notice will probably be the main challenge.

"An Engineer" needs to go back to school.
NOOOO... Anything, but not THAT!!!!

Biodiesel can be made from restaurant waste oil...see 'Appleseed'.
Indeed it can. Tell me, how much work ($$) is it to clean up the restaurant waste to the point where is can be used for biodiesel? I guess I need to be more specific...

Biodiesel CAN be blended with Dino diesel in any ratio without problems. We have been running biodiesel in our TDI's from 20% to 99% since 2000 without any problems.
Well, good for you. As I am sure you are aware, they had some problems in Minnesota this winter, and that was at what 5%? Again, it can be done, but the Minnesota experience suggests it is not a slam dunk. Mixing chemically identical compounds is much simpler...

And I might add that if "An Engineer" wants to post ignorant info such as what he posted above, he would be better off on a child's website.
Wow, you ARE worked up. Come on, play nice.

Joseph, I still see biodiesel as more of a project for the backyard enthusiast (no offense). Once you go to industrial scale TDP or NExBTL makes more sense. But I am sure you have a different opinion on that.

The problems as I see it are the requirements for fat and external hydrogen. FT diesel from sawdust (eg Choren process) needs neither but seems to be stalled.
Choren is stalled? Last I heard they were building a 4,500 bpd pilot plant (That's ~10x the size of the only TDP plant). Is that off the table?

I think the Minnesota biodiesel problems have been greatly exaggerated. Look at this page on this very site:
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/01/biodiesel_group.html

It appears that some of the problems were poor quality biodiesel, probably made only in response to the state mandate. It also says that some problems were likely unrelated to biodiesel.

It is well established that soy-based biodiesel gels at a much higher temp than #2 diesel. In Minnesota, Canada and Alaska this greatly limits winter use. However, properly made B2 should work even in Alaska, because the biodiesel % is so small that the effect on gel point is tiny. In much of the world it is a non-issue. I live in Michigan, only slightly warmer than Minnesota, and I used B20 in two diesels (Jeep CRD and Dodge Ram) through last winter with zero problems. The Dodge was always parked outside, and I never used the plug-in engine heater for either one. I suspect the difference is largely that I was getting quality fuel made properly.

It's my understanding that the city bus fleet in Des Moines, IA uses B20 year round with no problems. Des Moines gets cold. I also understand that the school buses in St. Johns, MI (central part of the lower peninsula) use B20 with no problems. Winter weather in either of these towns is pretty similar to that in southern Minnesota.

One big plus for biodiesel is the oxygen content, as noted in the table in the article. Soot and exhaust smoke is dramatically lower when I run B20 in my vehicles - as little as B5 makes a really noticeable difference, and B10 or higher makes smoke essentially disappear.

Anyway, I'm not saying that biodiesel is the one true solution to all environmental problems, only that it is an excellent fuel within certain limitations that are very well known.

There are several ways to overcome the problems associated with the high cold filter plug point of biodiesel for winter operation (i.e. fatty acid methyl ethers):

- use a higher blend in summer than in winter, over the course of the year it evens out. On an industrial scale, this means significant amounts of biodiesel (feedstock) would have to be stockpiled during winter.

- equip your vehicle with two tanks. The small one is for mineral diesel only and used to start the engine and get it warmed up. The large one is warmed by the engine coolant and may be used for high blends or SVO (the later only with DPF please). The engine control decides when you can switch between tanks.

- use petrochemical additives to push the CFPP to lower temperatures. In Austria, we have a military grade of mineral diesel called Special Austro DK that remains liquid down to -35 deg C. The Swedes have something similar, I expect others do as well.

- use the feedstock to porduce FT liquids rather than FAME (e.g. using the process described here). The high cetane number is welcome in winter as it reduces PM at the expense of slightly higher NOx - but that isn't much of an issue when there's no sunlight around.

Engineer? Biodiesel a project for backyard enthusiast? Plz check biodiesel.org...Currently 65 plants producing over 1/2Billion gpy. By next summer will be over 150 doing well over 1B, including ADMs 85Mgpy.
And yes, all diesels best be warm when its -0.
Where can I buy Neste stock in US?

An Engineer:

Restaurants are prohibited to pour spent oil and grease down the drain – it severely affects biological treatment of sewage on STP. Converting it into biodiesel is the most economical way to get rid of this garbage.

So they can feed it to customers but not pour it down the drain? Sounds about right. Like banning trans fat while cigarettes are legal. Or banning prostitution when big party politics is legal.

Andrey, Paco,
Either that or someone hauls it away for conversion to soap/detergent. They did that in the 80's. Don't know if this is still done today.
_
___Rafael,
What have they historically done to used cooking oil in Europe?

Allen:

Practically any combustible hydrocarbons (cooking and engine oil and sludge, solvents, etc.) were, and some of them are, combusted at cement kilns together with coal. Produced contaminants are neutralized harmless by cement mass. Recently more and more of such feedstock is refined and recycled, or converted to something else (biodiesel) with better resale value.

Paco:

Cooking on fresh vegetable oil without shortening (transfats) makes no harm - if one not overeat. Unfortunately, it is not the case…

Restaurants are prohibited to pour spent oil and grease down the drain – it severely affects biological treatment of sewage on STP. Converting it into biodiesel is the most economical way to get rid of this garbage.
If you are going to do this long term, it would be cheaper to install a two tank system and use the grease as-is (after filtration). No cost of chemicals. Almost no time to do the fuel preparation. You get the idea.

Biodiesel a project for backyard enthusiast? Plz check biodiesel.org...Currently 65 plants producing over 1/2Billion gpy. By next summer will be over 150 doing well over 1B, including ADMs 85Mgpy.
Good for them. Good to get all that renewable fuel going. It is still my opinion that biodiesel (methyl esters) will not be cheaper to produce on large scale than TDP or NExBTL. We'll see.

This will take a while to shake out. Government subsidies further complicate the picture. Give it 10 - 20 years. By then we should know who can produce the oil the cheapest...

use the feedstock to porduce FT liquids rather than FAME (e.g. using the process described here).

Strictly speaking, this process doesn't produce FT liquids, just something that resembles FT liquids. This isn't a Fischer-Tropsch process; it doesn't build up the chains from CO and H2. Instead, it uses hydrogen to reduce carboxylic acid groups and to convert alkenes to alkanes.

Choren seems to be progressing nicely with the construction of the "beta" plant: Biomass-to-liquid (BTL) technologies are therefore currently attracting attention – in a thermochemical conversion process, BTL technology uses the entire plant. At the forefront of developments, German company Choren Industries believes BTL fuels could meet 10 percent of Germany’s transport fuel needs by 2015. Its ‘Carbo-V’ process turns wood and other biomass into ‘SunDiesel’, capturing the attention of major corporations such as Volkswagen and
DaimlerChrysler. A 200,000 tonnes/year facility is under construction and Choren is embarking on securing partners and investors to roll out the technology in the years ahead.
First article here.

DME developments in China today:
DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:


DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
By:
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
By:
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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