Neste Oil and Raisioagro have launched a research project to investigate the potential of straw as a raw material for producing renewable diesel, the companies confirmed on Friday.
Large quantities of waste straw are produced as agricultural residue in Finland and elsewhere, and only a small proportion of this is currently used.
The project will study whether a logistically effective and efficient, large-scale straw harvesting chain could be created in Finland. The researchers will also look at the storability of straw for use as an industrial input year-round. The project will be carried out by TTS.
Microbial oil technology developed by Neste Oil enables straw to be used as a feedstock for producing NExBTL renewable diesel. Neste Oil has tested processing of straw for some years, and pilot-scale microbial oil production trials were started last year when Europe's first microbial oil pilot plant was commissioned at Porvoo.
"Microbial oil produced from industrial and agricultural residues, such as straw, is one of our potential future feedstocks for producing NExBTL renewable diesel," said Lars Peter Lindfors, Neste Oil's senior vice president of technology. "We have already tested the use of straw for producing microbial oil at our pilot plant at Porvoo and the results have been promising.
"This latest research project will give us valuable new information on the true potential straw offers as a feedstock for producing renewable fuel in Finland and on the logistics chain needed to supply straw in the quantity required for an industrial process like ours," he added.
Neste Oil says it 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. The company is committed to further extending its feedstock base in renewables, and to increasing its use of waste and residues in particular.
Neste Oil currently invests around 40 million in research and development (R&D) annually, the bulk of which goes on research into renewable feedstocks and renewable refining technology.