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Neste Oil joins two research projects to scale up algae output for NExBTL renewable fuels; commits to 2020 targets for aviation biofuels

Neste Oil is continuing its research into the potential for using algae oil as a feedstock for producing NExBTL renewable diesel by taking part in two research projects starting this summer to test various methods for growing algae in outdoor conditions. The goal of the projects in the Netherlands and Australia will be to build up experience on the suitability of different types of algae for use in industrial-scale production under a variety of conditions.

Separately, the company committed itself to a European Aviation Biofuels Flightpath introduced in Paris aimed at increasing the use of aviation biofuels to 2 million tons annually by 2020. (Earlier post.)

Algae projects. The five-year AlgaePARC project, launched on 17 June in the Netherlands, is being coordinated by Wageningen University and Research Centre and will involve 18 corporate partners. The focus will be on developing technologies and processes for growing microalgae on an industrial scale as a raw material for use in fuel, food, and chemical production.

A similar project, Solar Bio-Fuels Consortium, will be launched this summer in Australia. Coordinated by the University of Queensland, this will bring together seven companies and research institutions working in the field of algae-related research. The three-year project will study various techniques for growing algae and optimizing conditions to achieve high oil yields.

Our goal is to expand the range of raw materials we use for producing NExBTL renewable diesel, and algae represent one of the most promising materials here because of their excellent potential oil yields. The key practical challenge lies in scaling up output to industrial volumes, and we hope that these two new projects will result in new ways of overcoming this challenge.

—Markku Patajoki, the Head of Neste Oil’s Biotechnology Group

Studies have shown that algae species that produce and store lipids represent a potential source of raw material for NExBTL renewable diesel. Algae grow rapidly and one hectare of cultivated algae could yield as much as 30 t/a of oil. Algae oil is also an excellent alternative in terms of sustainability, as it does not compete with food production for supplies of potable water or land. The suitability of algae oil for use in the NExBTL process has already been confirmed.

The straightforward nature and flexibility of the NExBTL process gives us a definite advantage in terms of algae research, as we know precisely the type of properties that we need. Research on new raw materials such as algae is a long-term effort, however, and you cannot expect to get results overnight.

—Pauliina Uronen, Algae Research Project Manager at Neste Oil

European Aviation Biofuels Flightpath. The signatories to the Flightpath—the European Commission, industry representatives, members of the financial community, and various NGOs—have committed themselves to working together to make the Flightpath a reality.

The joint goal is to ensure that aviation biofuels are produced sustainably and are suitable for use by aircraft flying on commercial routes. The aim is also to support the development of new innovations in the field and create the economic and legislative mechanisms needed to encourage the uptake of these new fuels.

The Flightpath announced today is very much in line with Neste Oil’s goals. We are already capable of producing NExBTL renewable aviation fuel from sustainably produced inputs on an industrial scale. Our R&D aimed at extending our raw material base and developing our refining capabilities supports the overall intent of the new Flightpath.

NExBTL renewable aviation fuel complies with the toughest quality standards and offers airlines an easy and highly effective solution for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. We also believe that aviation biofuels could ultimately be used to fulfill the national biomandates that are currently being fulfilled mostly with road traffic fuels.

—Janne Mielck, Neste Oil’s Vice President, Business Development

Produced by hydrotreating renewable raw materials, NExBTL aviation fuel is compatible with all aircraft engines currently in use. Production is based on Neste Oil’s proprietary technology, which can make use of a flexible range of various types of vegetable oil and waste-based inputs, such as animal fat from the food industry.



"...algae is a long-term effort, however, and you cannot expect to get results overnight."

Hardly, but ... I started advocating algae about ten years ago as the quickest way to reduce Mideast oil effects on our economy.

The distribution infrastructure already exists, unlike hydrogen or even ethanol, to an extent.


We may see more of this as soon as business sees that they can stand up to the oil industry and not be blown off the map.

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