Customer references: Biochemicals

Technology Co-Development leads new microbial oil process

Founded in 1948, Neste produces and sells petroleum products, particularly fuels, lubricants, solvents, LPG and bitumen. It has production operations in four countries, and owns the largest chain of service stations in Finland. The company also conducts its own research into innovative new technologies and the development of existing processes. Neste has become a forerunner in renewable fuels due to its NEXBTL technology, which produces renewable diesel out of almost any waste fat or vegetable oil.

In 2008, Neste was looking to expand the range of feedstocks that could be used in its renewable diesel technology. With more materials being reprocessed, this would further improve long-term positive effects on the environment, and make NEXBTL more widely applicable in the fuels market. Neste developers wanted to collaborate closely with engineers who were highly competent in biotechnology, refining, and the ability to scale up the concept to commercial production.

Neste Engineering Solutions experts co-developed a new microbial oil process as part of Neste’s own research and development team. The project included research work, engineering designs for up-scaling the concept from lab scale to pilot followed by construction of the pilot plant. With their team of multidisciplinary engineers, Neste Engineering Solutions designed the entire pilot plant.

To achieve these results, Neste Engineering Solutions delivered:

  • Feasibility analysis
  • R&D cooperation
  • Strong modelling
  • Design of pilot plant
  • Scale-up

Key customer benefits

  • Robust process concept
  • Full evaluation of business case beforehand
  • Technologies verified in pilot scale understanding feasibility of a new potential feedstock 

Tall oil production takes off

Forchem manufactures and sells products distilled from Crude Tall Oil (CTO) mainly to European chemical companies for intermediate and finished manufacture. In 2012, the Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA) named Forchem as one of the world’s most promising cleantech companies because of their low-carbon products made of pine. Their Rauma refinery, on the west coast of Finland.

In 2000, as a newly-formed company with an innovative business idea, Forchem needed a refinery for the dry vacuum distillation of CTO. They wanted to work with an engineering company that could deliver the most advanced tall oil processing technology available with performance guarantees. The facility was to be in Rauma, Finland close to well-established paper and pulp facilities and commercial harbour.

Neste Engineering Solutions was involved from the very start. In addition to technology we provided full engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) services and full turn-key automation delivery.  In total it took two years to plan, design, build and get the tall oil refinery in Rauma into production. At the time of construction this was the world largest single line CTO distillation plant. From 2005 onwards, Forchem has been adding extensions and upgrades to the plant, including revamps and operational improvement analyses. In 2016, they installed NAPCON APC an advanced process controller to improve production volume and meet rising market demand without mechanical changes to the plant.

To achieve these results, Neste Engineering Solutions delivered:

  • ARxPINUS, a turnkey feedstock-flexible tall oil technology
  • EPCM services
  • Turn-key delivery of automation (DCS) with fully digital field buses
  • NAPCON advanced process controller

Key customer benefits

  • Access to tall oil technology
  • Long-term relationship across planning, construction and development
  • Advanced process controller increased production capacity by 17%
  • Performance guarantee – a proven technology that works