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Neste Oil building pilot plant to produce waste-based microbial oil for NExBTL renewable diesel fuel; commercial production possible by 2015

Neste Oil will build a pilot plant to produce waste-based microbial oil at its Porvoo refinery. It will be the first pilot plant in Europe designed to produce microbial oil for use in manufacturing renewable fuel from waste-based raw materials.

Neste Oil applied for patents covering its microbial oil technology in fall 2010. (Earlier post.) The technology enables the production of microbial oil with the help of fungi using waste and residues as a source of energy and carbon. The microbes break down waste and residues into sugars to grow and produce oil. Microbial oil production can be carried out in the bioreactors widely employed by today’s brewers and biotechnology companies.

Neste Oil collaborated with Aalto University School of Chemical Technology on developing microbial oil technology. Aalto University researchers concentrated on the initial phase of identifying which microbial strains are the most suitable for industrial use and developing the systems technology needed to ensure that microbes generate sufficient levels of oil. Neste Oil, for its part, focused on leveraging its expertise to extract the microbial oil produced from the biomass.

Neste Oil has already produced NExBTL renewable diesel from microbial oil at laboratory scale. The new pilot plant is an important step on the way to scaling up the technology to commercial capability.

The plant will be used to develop microbial oil production processes and test various raw materials for producing microbial oil, such as straw and other agricultural residues, as well as industrial waste and residues. The plant will support Neste Oil’s goal of using microbial oil to produce NExBTL renewable diesel in the future. The facility is due to be completed in the second half of 2012 and represents an investment of approximately €8 million (US$10.4 million).

In strategic terms, this is a very important decision for us, as the new pilot plant will enable us to progress to the next stage in our microbial oil development work. The decision very much supports Neste Oil’s strategy aimed at extending our raw material base.

The next stages in our development work will concentrate on tuning the production process and enabling it to operate on an industrial scale. Commercial production of microbial oil is likely to be possible by 2015 at the earliest.

—Neste Oil’s Vice President, Research and Technology Petri Lehmus



There have been so many announcements for bio-oil.

Mission critical transportation will gain independence from OPEC. The rest of us the find EVs and solar a bargain.

Henry Gibson

Independence from OPEC is long since possible. Germany demonstrated it in 1939 to 1945. South Africa has demonstrated it since then and still now. The Chinese are building several such facilities. Coal to liquids or natural gas to liquids. The European governments should first double the price of imported oil to the consumers. Electric trains can carry the freight from city to city and people do not need to travel as much in their automobiles or fly. A passenger in an aircraft leaving a European airport should pay a government tax equivalent to the price of crude the was required to make the fuel for the passengers share of the trip. ..HG..

Bob Wallace

Coal to oil is stupid.

Leave that carbon deep underground where it belongs.

We've got more floating around our atmosphere than we can tolerate right now.


HG...who would have the nerve to try to apply the same deterrents in USA/Canada/Australia, the current per capita polluting winners.

Using liquid fuel derived from Canadian Tar Sands is probably at least 100% more (air + ground + water) polluting than from Saudi-Arabia and other regular oil wells.


HG - "Independence from OPEC is long since possible." - if this were economically true(via the F-T process), OPEC oil wouldn't be shipping.


Kelly, it is already economically true, but politicians are not interested in or aware of macro-economics.
Politicians and private consumers don't consider the obvious difference between paying 1b$ for foreign oil and paying 1b$ for domestically produced oil. Therefore, when foreign oil is cheaper, it is their choice.
Obviously, macroeconomically spoken, if a country pays 1b$ for domestic oil, this is much less harmful for the state and its citizens than if you pay it for foreign oil.
(and I don't even mention the cost of wars and empowering hostile organisations)
domestically produced energy could easily cost 50% more than imported energy and still be cheaper at a macroeconomic level. In countries with high income taxes, this is even higher (because big part of the price of domestic energy is actually worker salaries which are >50% taxes)


Alain....Oilcos do not care about local/national benefits, employment, government revenues, oil wars, EVs, GHG, health care cost, people well being etc.

They have only one thing in mind, that's their (own) bottom line benefits. They will not hesitate to import Oil from polluting Tar Sands if it cost $1/barrel less than locally produced alternatives. It is the nature of the beasts.

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