NExBTL is a renewable diesel production process commercialized by the Finnish oil and refining company Neste Oil. Whether as an admixture or in its pure form, NExBTL is able to supplement or partially replace diesel fuel without problems. Unblended NExBTL meets the requirements set by the European standard CEN EN 590.
NExBTL diesel is produced in a patented vegetable oil refining process. Chemically, it entails direct catalytic hydrogenation of plant oils, which are triglycerides, into the corresponding alkanes. The glycerol chain of the triglyceride is hydrogenated to the corresponding C3 alkane, propane — there is no glycerol sidestream. This process removes oxygen from the oil; the diesel is not an oxygenate like traditional transesterified biodiesel. As it is chemically identical to ideal conventional diesel, it requires no modification or special precautions for the engine.
Two refineries in Porvoo, Finland were brought on stream in 2007 and 2009, each with a capacity of 0.17 million tons per year. Two larger refineries, with annual production of 0.8 million tons both, were brought on stream in Singapore and Rotterdam in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Neste has calculated that the use of NExBTL cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 40 to 60 percent, taking into account the entire production and transport chain.
The cloud point (or gel point) can be adjusted from −25°C to −5°C (−13°F to 23°F) during the manufacturing process, compared to petrodiesel's cloud point range of −23°C to 4°C (−10°F to 40°F), which could improve the cloud point of diesel when blended. The cloud point is the temperature when the wax precipitates out of the fuel in the form of small wax crystals, making the fuel cloudy and more difficult to move within the fuel lines and systems of vehicles. The lower the cloud point of a particular fuel is, the more suitable it is in colder environments.
However, palm oil may endanger the carbon neutrality of the fuel if forest is cleared to make way for palm plantations. In response to this concern, Neste has joined the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to certify that the palm oil is produced in a carbon-neutral, environmentally responsible manner. Neste purchases most of its palm oil from IOI, but requires a separate production chain for the RSPO-certified palm oil, in order not to create demand for rainforest destruction.
Deforestation would release carbon to the atmosphere, and reduce the overall carbon binding capacity of the land, thus it would be counterproductive with respect to the carbon balance. In 2007, Greenpeace protested the use of palm oil, concluding the potential for deforestation remains. According to Greenpeace, increasing the production of palm oil reduces the available land area, so indirectly generates demand for rainforest destruction, even if the palm oil itself is rainforest-certified. Greenpeace noted RSPO is voluntary organization and claimed government regulation in palm oil producing countries, such as Indonesia, cannot be relied on because of political corruption. Greenpeace also claimed palm oil diesel can actually produce three to 10 times more carbon dioxide emissions than petrodiesel because of the indirect effects of clearing of swamps, forest fires and indirect generation of demand for land area. Greenpeace demands that Neste should use domestic feedstocks such as rapeseed oil or biogas, instead. However, rapeseed is a slower-growing, cold-climate source with lesser carbon-binding potential than the oil palm, making emissions from cultivation and transport proportionally more severe.
In 2013, the share of palm oil in the feedstock has been reduced to 53%, being replaced by reclaimed waste oils such as used frying oil, animal and fish fat, and camelina, jatropha, soy and rapeseed oil. Use of reclaimed waste oil reduces the greenhouse gas impact by 88–91%. Neste Oil is continuing to look into new feedstock, including algae, jatropha and microbial oil.
This diesel is blended with petrodiesel. A market is created because the European Union requires 5.75% of transport fuels should be biofuels by 2010. The EU further decided on 18 December 2008, that by 2020, the share of energy from renewable sources in all forms of transportation be at least 10% of the final consumption of energy. Systems and regions without an electrical grid will be the long-term market for hydrogenated vegetable oils, as the EU prefers electrical use by factor 2.5. In the Helsinki area, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council and the Helsinki City Transport conducted a three-year experiment by running buses with 25% NExBTL diesel at first, and then switching to 100% in 2008. The trial, which was the largest field test of a biofuel produced from renewable raw materials worldwide, was a success: local emissions were decreased significantly, with particle emissions decreased by 30% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 10%, with excellent winter performance and no problems with catalytic converters.
The European Union requires the use of renewable fuel, therefore it is expected to be a major market for NExBTL.
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- Biodieselhankkeet käynnistävät Suomessa valtavan risusavotan - HS.fi - Autot
- Neste Oil to build a NExBTL Renewable Diesel plant in Singapore - Neste Oil Com
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- Institut für Energie und Umwelt (ifeu): An Assessment of Energy and Greenhouse Gases of NExBTL (Final Report, June 2006, on behalf of Neste Oil Corporation) http://www.nesteoil.com/binary.asp?GUID=52C6D33B-F406-4681-BFC2-37C70914E9DD
- Frequently Asked Questions Heavy Duty - Diesel Fuel Filtration
- "Neste Oil S'pore plant to buy palm oil from IOI Corp". Reuters UK. 2008-01-15. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
- Greenpeace. "Kysymyksiä ja vastauksia palmuöljystä".
- "New raw materials are researched". Nesteoil.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
- http://www.nesteoil.com/default.asp?path=1;41;540;1259;1260;13292;15693 (English) http://www.nesteoil.fi/default.asp?path=35,52,12005,12007,12133,15698 (Finnish)
- YTV. YTV and HKL lead the way Biofuel reduces bus transportation emissions. http://www.ytv.fi/ENG/transport/travelling_news/lo_2007_10_03_biofuel.htm