It is no easy challenge responding to the need for more energy while cutting emissions and mitigating the effects of global warming. Nor is it always easy to develop other areas of technology that can help ensure a better environment for present and future generations.
The Cleantech Finland programme has been launched to promote the wide range of expertise that Finnish compa- nies have to offer in the field of clean technology and highlight what can be achieved using the right types of solutions.
Neste Oil Corporation, of Finland, is a refining and marketing company concentrating on low-emission, high- quality traffic fuels. The company produces a comprehensive range of major petroleum products and is the world’s leading supplier of renewable diesel. The company is continuing its research into the potential for using algae oil as a feedstock for producing renewable diesel.
Neste Oil is taking part in two research projects which start this summer to test various methods for growing algae in outdoor conditions. The aim of the projects, in the Nether- lands and Australia, will be to build up experience on the suitability of different types of algae for use in industrial- scale production under a variety of conditions.
The five-year AlgaePARC project, launched in the Netherlands, is being coordinated by Wageningen University and Research Centre and will involve 18 corporate partners. The focus is on developing technolo- gies and processes for growing micro- algae on an industrial scale as a raw material for use in fuel, food and chemicals production.
A similar project, Solar Biofuels Consortium, will be launched this summer in Australia. Coor- dinated by the University of Queensland, the project will bring together seven companies and research institutions. The three-year project will study various techniques for growing algae and optimising conditions to achieve high oil yields.
“Our goal is to expand the range of the raw materials we use for producing NExBTL renewable diesel, and algae represent one of the most promising materials here because of their excellent potential oil yields,” says Markku Patajoki, head of Neste Oil Biotechnology Group. “The key practical challenge lies in scaling up output to industrial volumes, and we hope that these two new projects will result in new ways of overcoming this challenge.”
Studies have shown that algae species that produce and store lipids represent a potential source of raw material for NExBTL renewable diesel.
Algae grow rapidly and 1 ha of cultivated algae could yield as much as 30 t of oil a year.
Neste Oil recently expanded the selection of raw materials used to produce renewable fuel with jatropha and camelina oils. By introducing these new raw materials in its feedstock base, the company will increase the proportion of nonfood mate- rials and raw materials that can be grown on cultivation areas less suited for food plants in its raw material procurement.