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Lower emissions on our roads

Neste Oil’s NExBTL Renewable Diesel generates 40-60% less greenhouse emissions than conventional fossil diesel fuel, as well as lower levels of other pollutants. No engine modifications are needed to use the fuel, which can be blended with other diesel or used as such, and distributed through the existing logistics infrastructure.
Neste Oil Corporation

Neste Oil’s NExBTL technology for producing renewable diesel fuel from a very wide and flexible range of vegetable oil and animal fat has been designed to help meet the challenge of mitigating global warming by increasing our use of biofuels. In terms of quality, NExBTL Renewable Diesel is more than a match for the best conventional fossil diesel fuels; and is sulphur-free, oxygen-free, nitrogen-free, and aromatics-free.

The product meets all US and Japanese diesel quality specifications, and can be used at high content levels in Europe. Its low-temperature performance, in terms of its cloud point, can be adjusted during the production process to anywhere between -5 °C and -30 °C; and its thermal value is that of an EN590 hydrocarbon. NExBTL also offers good storability and does not dissolve in water easily.

NExBTL can be used in all diesel engines and with all existing diesel distribution systems; and can be blended with fossil diesel or used at 100% content, without affecting engine performance, fuel consumption, or lubricant performance.

Major reduction in emissions

The emissions of NExBTL’s entire production chain are lower than those of fossil diesel, and its greenhouse gas emissions are 40-60% lower, depending on what proportion of NExBTL is used and what it is produced from.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil launched an international certification system for palm oil production in November 2007.

NExBTL reduces both regulated and non-regulated tailpipe emissions. Tests carried out by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and manufacturers such as MAN and Scania have shown that particulate, nitrous oxide, and aldehyde emissions are all lower. The higher the concentration of NExBTL, the lower the level of emissions.

A pure hydrocarbon

NExBTL Renewable Diesel is a pure hydrocarbon and a second-generation biodiesel. This differentiates it from first-generation FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Esther), today’s most common biodiesel, which is based on a combination of renewable raw materials and fossil methanol. A maximum of 5% FAME can be blended with conventional diesel, because of its poor relative quality and limited performance properties.

Neste Oil is already at work on the third generation of biodiesel technology, which will make use of gasification and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and enable feedstocks to include virtually any biomass. The first commercial-scale, third-generation production plants are expected to be in operation in the second half of the next decade.

Neste Oil and forest products company, Stora Enso, are investigating the potential for using wood-based raw materials in producing this new fuel, and a pilot plant will supply crude fuel to Neste Oil’s refinery at Porvoo.

A broader palette

NExBTL is the most flexible renewable diesel technology available today, and can use a wide range of vegetable oil and animal fat in various combinations.

The most competitive vegetable oil for NExBTL at the moment is palm oil, which is not only the most widely available vegetable oil, but also one of the best in terms of its greenhouse gas profile, when produced appropriately. Neste Oil is committed to only using sustainably produced raw materials, and has played an active part in promoting the adoption of an international certification system for palm oil production. In addition to palm oil, Neste Oil also uses rapeseed oil and tallow.

In the future, the raw material base will be extended with oil from non-food crops, such as jatropha. Third-generation technology will push this further, with agricultural waste, forest waste, municipal waste, industrial waste, and energy crops.

A clear leader

Neste Oil is aiming to become the world’s leading producer of renewable diesel fuel, and its NExBTL technology is based on over 10 years of development work.

The world’s first second-generation biodiesel plant was commissioned at the company’s Porvoo refinery in summer 2007, and is capable of producing 170,000 t/a of NExBTL. This will be joined by a second similar plant at the same site in 2009.

Neste Oil plans to follow these units up with an approx. €550 million plant in Singapore capable of producing 800,000 t/a, making it the largest facility producing diesel fuel from renewable feedstocks anywhere. Construction will begin in the first half of 2008, and completion is due by the end of 2010.

Cleaning up the air we breathe

Trial use of NExBTL in public transport buses in Greater Helsinki began in autumn 2007 as part of a joint three-year project between Helsinki City Transport, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council, catalytic converter specialist Proventia, and Neste Oil. The aim is for around half of the buses in the region to be running on NExBTL by 2010.

The trial has started with 60 buses running on a 25/75% NExBTL-fossil diesel blend; and the intention is to switch to 100% NExBTL in spring 2008.

Other similar projects are in the pipeline for other cities in Europe and further afield.

The first NExBTL plant was started up at Neste Oil’s Porvoo refinery in 2007.

NExBTL Renewable Diesel

  • Second-generation fuel developed by Neste Oil
  • Can be produced very flexibly from a wide range of vegetable oil and animal fat
  • Meets automotive manufacturers’ toughest specifications
  • Reduces tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions significantly
  • Can be used as such or as a blending component for fossil diesel
  • Completely compatible with existing distribution infrastructure
  • At least as good as conventional fuel in terms of driveability, performance, and ease of use
  • Can be produced in large volumes cost-effectively.
> Heikki Kilander
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)