Neste Oil produces renewable diesel from fish processing waste

By Neste Oil | May 15, 2012

Neste Oil has again expanded the range of renewable raw materials it uses by beginning to produce NExBTL renewable diesel from waste fat sourced from the fish processing industry at its Singapore refinery. The fat in question comes from the gutting waste generated when processing freshwater pangasius farmed in Southeast Asia after the fillets have been removed for human consumption.

As with all the other renewable inputs used by Neste Oil, this batch of waste fish fat complies with the strict sustainability requirements of the EU's Renewable Energy Directive. The batch can be traced all the way back to the fish farm. Waste fish fat is also accepted as a raw material for renewable fuel in the U.S. The NExBTL renewable diesel produced from the batch cuts greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 84 percent when compared to fossil diesel and calculated over the fuel's entire life cycle. Using NExBTL diesel also reduces tailpipe and fine particulate emissions significantly.

"It makes good ecological sense to use waste and sidestreams to produce advanced, premium-quality renewable fuel, which is why our goal this year is to increase the amount of byproducts and waste we use as raw materials by hundreds of thousands of tons compared to 2011," said Matti Lehmus, Neste Oil's executive vice president, oil products and renewables. "In addition to focusing on waste and side streams, we are continuing R&D on completely new types of raw materials. We are currently building Europe's first pilot plant to produce microbial oil from waste and residue-based raw materials at our technology center in Porvoo, Finland, and expect to complete it during the second half of this year, in line with our previous announcement."

A particular strength of Neste Oil's NExBTL technology is that it is capable of processing a very wide variety of different biobased raw materials such as vegetable oils, waste animal fat, and byproducts from vegetable oil production into NExBTL renewable diesel.

Freshwater pangasius is farmed at fish farms in Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, and other countries. The waste fish fat procured by Neste Oil was separated from gutting waste after the fillets had been removed for human consumption. Bone meal produced from processing waste is used as raw material for animal feed.

After the fillets have been removed, the fat content of the gutting waste can be as high as 30 to 35 percent. Although pangasius has a high fat content, its fat contains very little omega 3 or 6 fatty acids compared to the fat from seawater fish such as salmon. The chemicals and antibiotics used in farming the fish can also build up in the fat, which limits or can completely prevent it from being used for human consumption.