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First phase of European microbial pilot plant completed

The first phase of Europe’s first microbial oil pilot plant has been completed according to refining and marketing company Neste Oil.

The first phase will enable the growth of oil-producing micro-organisms and subsequent phases will focus on raw material pretreatment and oil recovery. The construction has been on time and on budget.

Neste’s goal is to develop the technology so that it is capable of yielding commercial volumes of microbial oil for use as a feedstock for NExBTL renewable diesel. Commercial-scale production is expected by 2015 at the earliest.

‘Work on the pilot plant has progressed to plan and the technology has performed well,’ says Petri Lehmus, Neste Oil’s VP of research and development. ‘The plant is already generating microbial oil containing biomass, which is a great achievement.’

The pilot plant is expected to be fully complete in the second half of 2012 and represents an investment of € 8 million ($10 million) by Neste Oil.