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Neste Oil inaugurates Europe’s first pilot plant for producing microbial oil from waste and residues

26 October 2012

Neste Oil celebrated the official opening of Europe’s first pilot plant for producing microbial oil from waste and residues at its site in Porvoo, Finland. (Earlier post.) Microbial oil produced from industrial and agricultural residues such as straw represents one of the most promising future raw materials for NExBTL renewable diesel, the company said.

Increasing the use of waste and residues in the production of NExBTL renewable diesel is one of our most important goals. 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.

—Lars Peter Lindfors, Neste Oil’s Senior Vice President, Technology

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. 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.

Neste Oil announced in December 2011 that it was going to invest €8 million (US$10.4 million) in building a microbial oil pilot plant alongside its Technology Center at Porvoo. The first phase of the plant was completed in August this year and has already successfully produced microbial-rich biomass.

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.

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