Volume 7, Issue 2
Published: March 1, 2013
One small step for oil

Nesté Oil is one company that should be delighted by the EC’s recent proposals favouring advanced biofuels. To find out more about the impact this will have Keeley Downey went to visit the producer’s new advanced microbial oil plant


On a recent flight to Finland to visit Nesté Oil HQ, Buzz Aldrin, US astronaut and second person to walk on the Moon, popped up on the television screen and described himself as a ‘risk taker’; a fearless man who’s risk was worth taking because: ‘The only device to take us back in time is our memory. We are made to move forward and we have to study the future fearlessly’. This, it turned out, was a Nesté Oil advertisement.

And looking to the future is exactly what this small oil company is doing with the development of Europe’s first microbial oil R&D plant, built alongside the technology centre at its site in Porvoo, Finland. Between now and 2015 Nesté will be working to develop technology capable of producing microbial oil on an industrial scale, with the oil expected to enter commercial production in 2015 at the earliest. Phase one of the €8 million facility was completed in August last year, with Nesté officially opening the plant in October.

The decision to explore the potential of microbial oil as a feedstock for its NExBTL renewable diesel was an obvious one for Nesté. Speaking in the company’s technology centre Petri Lehmus, VP of R&D, said: ‘For now most of our efforts are with microbial oil. This is a nice concept as it produces food and fuel rather than food or fuel.’ The residual biomass left after the microbes have been pressed for oil can be used in the animal feed industry.

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