Neste Oil has completed the first phase of its project to build a pilot plant for
producing microbial oil, the Finnish firm said on
Construction of the plant is
on-schedule and on-budget, the company reports.
The first phase enables the growth of oil-producing
micro-organisms, and the following phases will concentrate on
raw material pretreatment and oil recovery.
The goal is to develop the technology so that it is capable
of yielding commercial volumes of microbial oil for use as a feedstock for NExBTL renewable
diesel. Commercial-scale production is expected by 2015 at the
Work on the pilot plant has progressed according to
plan and the technology has performed
excellently, said Petri Lehmus, Neste Oil vice president
for research and development. The plant is already
generating microbial oil containing biomass, which is a great
The pilot plant is expected to be fully complete in the
second half of 2012 and represents an investment of 8
million by Neste Oil.
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, the company says.
It utilizes bioreactors similar to those used in the biotech
and brewing industries. A wide range of different waste and
residue materials can be used, such as straw and sidestreams
from the pulp and paper industry, thereby making feedstock
Extending our feedstock base is a central
component of our cleaner traffic strategy, said Lehmus.
Our aim is to focus on making use of waste and residues
with the smallest possible carbon footprint for producing our
Microbial oil technology represents an attractive option,
both because of its efficiency and its sustainability, according to the
Neste Oil says it has carried out pioneering research in the
field and has applied for several patents covering the
microbial oil technology. A number of partners
have been involved in this work, including Aalto
Our microbial oil pilot plant is the first of its kind
in Europe, and Finnish research in the area is highly advanced
worldwide, said Lehmus.
The pilot plant currently employs 10 people and a number of
other people indirectly, according to the company.