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Neste Oil and DONG Energy partner on renewable diesel and jet fuels from ag residues via microbial oil

Neste Oil, the world’s largest producer of premium-quality renewable fuels, is working with DONG Energy, one of the leading energy groups in Northern Europe, to develop an integrated process to produce renewable diesel and aviation fuel derived from agricultural residues.

DONG Energy’s Inbicon technology will be used in the first part of the process to pre-treat biomass and produce cellulosic sugars that can then be converted into microbial oil with Neste Oil’s technology (earlier post). Microbial oil can be used as a feedstock for Neste’s NExBTL process for premium-quality renewable fuels such as renewable diesel and renewable aviation fuel.

Neste’s microbial oil technology grows yeast and fungi with sugars released from the biomass waste and residues using thermochemical and enzymatic processes. The microbes, which can produce up to 80% of their cell weight as oil, are grown at high densities in bioreactors similar to those used in the biotech and brewing industries. The cells are then harvested and the oil recovered for use in the NExBTL process.

Neste Oil has been running a microbial oil pilot plant in Porvoo, Finland since 2012. In 2013, Neste and agritrader Raisioagro launched a research project to investigate the potential of straw as a raw material for producing NExBTL renewable diesel via Neste’s microbial oil. (Earlier post.)

Neste Oil and Dong Energy have already passed the laboratory and pilot phase, and the technologies must now be optimized and verified on a larger scale. DONG Energy will use Inbicon’s demonstration facility in Kalundborg in Denmark to optimize the yield and performance of the biomass pre-treatment to match Neste Oil’s microbial oil process.

Both Neste Oil and DONG will receive funding from the ERA-Net Plus BESTF program in connection with the collaboration.

Neste Oil is currently the world’s only biofuel producer capable of producing premium-quality renewable fuel on an industrial scale from more than 10 different feedstocks. Increasing the use of waste- and residue-based feedstocks is one of our most important goals, and microbial oil produced from forest industry and agricultural residues, such as straw, is one of our potential future feedstocks.

Our cooperation with DONG Energy is a continuation of Neste Oil’s ongoing microbial oil research, and joint technology development will support our efforts aimed at developing technology capable of producing microbial oil on an industrial scale.

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

We are continuously developing our Inbicon technology in order to expand the use of agricultural residues. We are now able to produce high-quality cellulosic sugars that can be used in various applications, and we see Neste Oil as the obvious partner when developing a technology where we use these cellulosic sugars for renewable fuel production.

—Henrik Maimann, Vice President at DONG Energy



derived from agricultural residues


Richard Slay

Airlines might be willing to pay a premium price for a completely synthetic fuel, if its purity reduces maintenance costs. Getting the price per gallon competitive with ordinary gasoline is a tall order. I'm just surprised they're trying to raise microbes in Finland, which implies they don't need sunlight. That's intriguing. The linked article says fungi and yeast, which confirms that. Imagine oil production in every basement.

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