Future raw materials
We continue to work towards increasing the availability of renewable and recycled raw materials while also developing technologies to diversify our current raw material portfolio even further from what it is today. This will help us ensure access to sufficient volumes of raw materials to support our growing production capacity, which will enable us to maximize our positive climate handprint.
Short to mid term: Increasing the availability of waste and residues
We are exploring ways to increase the availability of emerging, even lower-quality waste and residue raw materials, such as:
- Free fatty acids derived from refining processes of a variety of vegetable oils, for example.
Palm oil mill effluent (POME)
- POME is wastewater with a high organic load; therefore it needs to be treated before discharge. POME consists of water soluble components of palm fruits as well as some palm fibre and oil.
- POME is usually released to a system of ponds to remove solids, oil and grease before discharging the water into waterways. Oil settles on top of the pond and can be recovered (skimmed off).
- POME oil is waste derived from palm oil mill effluent; it consists of the remaining oily waste skimmed from the palm oil mill’s wastewater.
- Wastewater-derived grease e.g. from restaurant kitchens.
- Waste fat of animal or plant origin collected from a grease trap before wastewater enters the waste water disposal system.
Mid- to long-term: exploring technologies to introduce new raw materials into portfolio
Our mid- to long-term raw material development focuses on, for example, the following scalable, sustainable raw materials and technologies enabling their use:
- Post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste, e.g. colored, multimaterial, multilayer packaging waste that currently cannot be recycled mechanically.
- We are aiming to introduce liquefied plastic waste as a new raw material to our fossil oil refineries to process it into high-quality raw material for the production of new plastics.
- We have successfully completed our first series of industrial-scale processing runs with liquefied waste plastic at our refinery in Finland. The trial runs will continue with higher volumes in 2022. Our decades of experience in oil refining, combined with refining expertise in upgrading low-quality raw materials, provide a solid foundation for the rapid demonstration and scaling up of chemical recycling.
- We have established several partnerships to develop recycling of plastic waste, particularly chemical recycling technologies and capacity.
Read more about waste plastics
- Plant-based biomass that is not being consumed or has only low-value uses.
- E.g. forest and agricultural residues for which the availability is in the scale of billions of tons each year globally.
- Neste cooperates with Bioenergy La Tuque with the objective of unleashing the potential of unused forest residues in La Tuque, Canada.
- Neste is one of the parties financing a long-term Treesearch research platform focusing on forest-based materials.
Read more about lignocellulose
Novel vegetable oils from advanced agricultural concepts
- As part of our mid- to long-term renewable raw material development efforts, we have been exploring advanced, sustainable agricultural concepts that minimize demand for additional agricultural land.
- With these concepts, the existing cultivation is not replaced and the indirect land use change (ILUC) risk is minimized. These novel cultivation methods could be applied to derive additional volumes of vegetable oils from a variety of plants.
- The key sustainability benefit provided by these advanced agricultural concepts is that additional volumes of vegetable oils can be produced with regenerative agricultural practices that maximize greenhouse gas savings and carbon sequestration while promoting soil health.
- These advanced agricultural concepts include, e.g. “intermediate cropping” (i.e. using the full potential of agricultural land to cultivate additional crops without replacing the main crop cultivated on the same land during other seasons), agroforestry and “silvopasture” (e.g. cultivating crops on pasture between tree rows alongside cattle on marginal lands), among others.
Municipal solid waste
- Neste explores various fractions of municipal solid waste that currently cannot or are not recycled. These vary from market to market.
- Neste is evaluating several technologies and potential partners, targeting to valorise municipal solid waste and produce sustainable fuels and chemicals.
Read more about municipal solid waste
- Photosynthetic microalgae may be cultivated wherever there is water and sunlight, also in sea water and land areas unsuitable for other types of cultivation.
- Microalgae may have a high oil yield, and they are usually rich in proteins and other valuable compounds.
- Neste has been involved in several international algae research projects, for example in the Netherlands, and Australia
Read more about microalgae
CO2 - Power-to-X
- Neste is exploring electrolysis and power-to-X solutions as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS) or utilisation (CCU) technologies.
- The key technology in power-to-x is electrolysis, where hydrogen is produced from water using electricity.
- Power-to-X technologies are expected to enable the production of emission-free renewable hydrogen and conversion of CO2 into fuels, chemicals and materials
- The “feedstocks” in Power-to-X are renewable electricity and CO2. Production of hydrogen as well as fuels and chemicals using Power-to-X technologies is detached from biomass.
- In March 2020, Neste invested in a minority stake of Sunfire, leading technology developer of high-temperature electrolysis and Power-to-X solutions.
- We will demonstrate green hydrogen production at our Rotterdam refinery with CEA, Sunfire, Paul Wurth and Engie in an EU project MULTIPLHY. The project aims at the installation and integration of the world’s first multi-MW scale high-temperature electrolyser system into a refinery.
Read more about Power-to-X
- Hydrogen is used in large quantities in many industries, e.g. oil refineries to process fuels. A common way to produce hydrogen has been to produce it from natural gas and water in high temperatures, which leads to GHG emissions.
- Renewable hydrogen is made with electrolysis, where hydrogen is produced from water using renewable electricity by splitting water molecules.
- Renewable hydrogen is almost emission-free when the energy needed for its production is renewable electricity.
- Focus on renewable hydrogen is an essential part of Neste’s strategy and our goal to reach carbon neutral production by 2035.
Read more about renewable hydrogen
Unlocking new raw material pools to accelerate emission reductions
Multiple raw materials can replace fossil raw materials in fuel production. Some are available already today, and with innovation we can unlock the future potential of many others.