|The joint venture will focus on gasification and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Neste Oil alone will handle final upgrading and marketing. Click to enlarge.|
Neste Oil, the developer of the NExBTL second-generation biofuel process (earlier post) and Stora Enso, an integrated paper, packaging, and forest products company, are working together to develop Biomass-to-Liquids technology for the production of synthetic diesel from wood residues.
The project will focus on developing new gas purification technology related to generation of clean synthesis gas from wood and on using Fischer-Tropsch processes to produce crude biodiesel from the syngas. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland will join the two partners to implement the development phase and commercialize wood-based biofuel production.
The purification of the biosyngas is currently the most uncertain step in Fischer-Tropsch BTL processes, according to the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN), which is working on the problem with Shell. Catalysts used in FT synthesis are intrinsically very sensitive to small amounts of poisons.
Neste Oil’s refinery-based proprietary NExBTL technology is based on the high-pressure hydrogenation of fatty acids. The product is a synthetic diesel fuel, free of oxygen and aromatic compounds. Side products include propane and gasoline. The process can use a flexible input of any vegetable oil or animal fat to produce a product with characteristics similar to Fischer-Tropsch output.
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.
The Neste Oil/Stora Enso project is designed to complement Neste Oil’s biofuel portfolio. Neste Oil is currently commissioning its first plant to produce 170,000 t/a of NExBTL at its Porvoo refinery in Finland. A second similar plant is also under construction at Porvoo.
The first step in the Neste Oil/Stora Enso project will be to design and build a demonstration plant at Stora Enso’s Varkaus Mill in Finland. The plant, owned on a 50/50 basis by the two companies, is expected to start up in 2008 and will produce heat and electricity for use locally and crude synthetic diesel to be refined into commercial fuel at Neste Oil’s refinery in Porvoo.
The €14 million (US$18.7 million) demonstration plant will be integrated into the energy infrastructure of the Varkaus Mill, and the gas produced will equal the energy needed to heat 4,300 homes and cut local carbon dioxide emissions significantly.
Following the development phase and completion of the technical solutions, and after the partners have gained sufficient experience from the demonstration plant, the joint venture will build a full-scale commercial production plant at one of Stora Enso’s mills. This facility will be owned on a 50/50 basis by the JV partners.
Stora Enso will be responsible for supplying wood biomass and utilizing heat generated. Wood biomass will be supplied from forests according to ecological preconditions. Neste Oil’s responsibility will final refining and marketing of the biofuel.
The European Union’s target of replacing 5.75% (18 million tons) of the fossil fuels used in transportation with biofuels by 2010 and 10% by 2020 will mean replacing 30 million tons of fossil fuels and will require significant increases in biofuel production.
Neste Oil said that developing wood-based biofuels is a logical step for it and underpins the company’s strategic goal of producing high-quality transportation fuels from a broad base of feedstocks.
New-generation biodiesel technology (Neste Oil, Stora Enso)
Green Diesel Production with Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (ECN Biomass)