Finnish firm Neste Oil officially opened its first European pilot plant for producing microbial oil from waste material in Porvoo, Finland on Friday.
But as the biofuels industry comes under increasing pressure to move away from using dedicated feedstocks, and particularly food crops, for production amid concern that it is driving up food prices and land use change, BP has pulled the plug on its plans for a $300 million plant in Florida.
BP had been planning to build a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Highlands County, Florida to produce 36 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol.
In a statement late last week, however, the company says that in the “best interest of our shareholders” the considerable capital required build the plant will now be put into “more attractive projects” instead.
Neste Oil, meanwhile, has invested €8 million in its pilot plant as part of its ongoing microbial oil research programme with Aalto University’s School of Chemical Technology since 2007.
The plant will produce the raw materials for NExBTL renewable diesel from industrial, forestry and agricultural residues including straw.
Initially, the plant will focus mainly on using straw, which is produced in large quantities by agriculture in Finland and elsewhere but is often not put to its most effective use.
“Increasing the use of waste and residues in the production of NExBTL renewable diesel is one of our most important goals,” says Neste Oil’s senior vice president of technology, Lars Peter Lindfors. “The start-up of the new microbial oil pilot plant represents a significant step towards achieving this goal.”
The pilot plant will also be capable of handling other waste materials to turn into biofuel constituents.
For further information:
EC proposes new constraints on biofuel industry (18-Oct)
Audi fills up on promise of Joule’s waste water biofuel (5-Oct)
Lufthansa and Algae Tec to build biofuel production facility (24-Sept)
29 October 2012