Neste Oil launches sales of NExBTL renewable naphtha; plastics feedstock and biocomponent for gasoline
Neste Oil—the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel—has launched the commercial production and sales of renewable naphtha for corporate customers; the company is one of the first to supply bio-naphtha on a commercial scale. NExBTL naphtha is produced as part of the NExBTL renewable diesel refining process at Neste Oil’s sites in Finland, the Netherlands, and Singapore. The bio-naphtha can be used as a feedstock for producing bioplastics, for example, and as a biocomponent for gasoline.
Naphtha is generic term applied to the liquid fraction produced in petroleum refining with an approximate boiling range between 122–400 °F, and comprises C5 to C10 hydrocarbons. In a 2012 report on the hydroconversion of triglycerides (e.g., vegetable oils) to green fuels (the core of the NExBTL process), Sotelo-Boyás et al. note that:
During hydroprocessing of triglycerides, the type of catalyst is one of the most important factors to determine the yield and composition of liquid products, such as green naphtha (C5–C10), green jet fuel (C11–C13), and green diesel (C14–C20), and even green liquid petroleum gas (LPG). A severe hydrocracking catalyst would lead to a high production of green naphtha whereas a mild-hydrocracking catalyst is prone to produce mainly green diesel.
The reaction temperature plays an important role for the yield and quality of hydroprocessed oils as well. It has been observed that diesel selectivity decreases with increasing reaction temperature while naphtha selectivity increases as result of the thermal cracking of diesel hydrocarbons. Therefore, high temperatures and strong acid catalysts are preferred if naphtha is the desired product. Conversely, moderate temperatures and catalysts with mild acid sites are needed if middle distillates are the desired product. The yield of green gasoline can also be increased by using a two-step process, i.e. hydrotreating followed by hydrocracking.—Sotelo-Boyás et al.
Naphta is classified as light or heavy, and has numerous applications depending upon, among other things, paraffin content (lean or rich), volatility, solvent properties, purity and odor.
Bioplastics produced from NExBTL naphtha can be used in numerous industries that prioritize the use of renewable and sustainable raw materials, such as companies producing plastic parts for the automotive industry and packaging for consumer products.
The mechanical and physical properties of bioplastics produced from NExBTL renewable naphtha are fully comparable with those of plastics produced from fossil naphtha; and the carbon footprint of these plastics is smaller than that of conventional fossil-based plastics.
Bioplastic products produced from NExBTL renewable naphtha can be recycled with conventional fossil-based plastic products, and can be used as a fuel in energy generation following recycling.
In addition to renewable naphtha, the NExBTL renewable diesel refining process also produces renewable propane, which can be used as a traffic fuel, for cooking and heating in the home, and in food packaging. Neste Oil recently started a study on the feasibility of commercializing NExBTL propane. Neste Oil also produces commercial volumes of NExBTL renewable aviation fuel.
All the products produced as part of NExBTL renewable diesel refining comply with the sustainability criteria established by the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive across the entire supply chain. They have been verified as being sustainably produced, the inputs used can be fully traced back to their origin, and they contribute a significant reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to comparable fossil-based products.
Rogelio Sotelo-Boyás, Fernando Trejo-Zárraga and Felipe de Jesús Hernández-Loyo (2012). Hydroconversion of Triglycerides into Green Liquid Fuels, Hydrogenation, Iyad Karamé (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0785-9 doi: 10.5772/48710