The two Finnish companies have verified that Neste's MY Renewable Isoalkane, based on its NEXBTL technology, can also be applied to metals extraction. The diluent is produced from bio-based waste and residue raw materials.
According to the partners, laboratory studies and pilot trials at the Outotec Research Center in Pori and Neste's Technology Center in Porvoo, both in Finland, confirmed the high-level performance of the product for solvent extraction of copper, and it can also be applied to other base metals.
"Thanks to its renewable origins and being readily biodegradable, the bio-based diluent reduces environmental risk and has a remarkably smaller carbon footprint over its life cycle when compared to fossil equivalents," Outotec said.
"Moreover, Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane evaporates at a lower rate, which improves copper extraction efficiency and safety due to significantly reduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs)."
Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane is compatible with conventional fossil diluents at solvent extraction plants.
Outotec chief technology officer Kari Knuutila explained that the project came about when experts from two different industries discovered "synergies" and found a new use for the bio-based product.
Mercedes Alonso, executive vice president for renewable polymers and chemicals at Neste, said: "Using Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane as a replacement to fossil diluents provides significant ecological benefits, while simultaneously improving the efficiency, economy and safety of metals extraction processes."
Outotec and Neste have agreed to cooperate in introducing the Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane to metal producers.
Outotec will provide technical industry expertise, while Neste will be responsible for the production, sales and deliveries of the product to solvent extraction sites globally.