01 September 2014

Millennium Youth Camp – surprises at the Porvoo refinery

Article

“This is a whole new level of recycling”

“I was surprised at how much fuel Neste Oil manufactures from waste. It is really interesting. This is a whole new level of recycling,” said German Oliver, one of the sixty gifted young people who attended the science camp Millennium Youth Camp. That was not the only surprising thing the youth saw at the Porvoo refinery – they also witnessed a peculiar event at the Neste Oil Motor Laboratory.

 

Millennium Youth Camp brought together young people who are interested in science. The youth are between the ages of 16 and 19 and hail from all around the world. The participants of the camp, arranged by Technology Academy Finland, LUMA Centre of the University of Helsinki, and Aalto University, were a carefully selected bunch.

 

Sixty gifted youth were selected from among around 1,400 applicants. Neste Oil was the sponsor company of the camp's climate team. The team spent a day at the Neste Oil Porvoo refinery. The climate team's participants were from Finland, Singapore, Germany, Macedonia, Bangladesh, and Canada.

Diesel fuel that looks like water

The youth were especially interested in the diesel that looks just like water and does not smell much, either. Developed by Neste Oil, NEXBTL is one of the most important Finnish inventions in the past few decades. It is manufactured from renewable raw materials, but its properties are – unlike the properties of traditional biodiesel – better than those of fossil diesel. Neste’s renewable diesel is so pure that it is colorless and almost odorless.

In the beginning of their visit to Finland, the youth studied the diesel with measuring instruments of the University of Helsinki. They came to the conclusion that the renewable diesel burns much more cleanly than regular diesel. This is why it generates less toxic PAH emissions.

“I was under the impression that much more companies globally manufactured such renewable diesel,” commented Oliver, a German member of the team.

The youth were also interested in Neste Oil’s goal of manufacturing more renewable diesel from waste and residues. In Porvoo, they were shown a vast array of raw materials including used cooking oil, animal fat waste, technical corn oil, waste from the production of palm oil, and waste fat from the fish processing industry. Around a half of the total volume of the diesel is already manufactured from such waste and residues.

The youth noted that people do not talk much about the differences in the quality of biofuels. “You should teach people more about the differences between the different types of biofuel,” said one of them, Anastasija from Macedonia. The youth also hoped that Neste Oil were to use even more waste than at present.

“The motor lab is cool”

The youth sponsored by Neste Oil also visited the Motor Laboratory at the Porvoo refinery. The laboratory tests fuels and their additives in real-life situations, including extreme conditions. “The motor lab is cool,” said the team's Finnish member Vilma.

Even though it was hot outside, the atmosphere in one of the laboratory’s rooms was chilly. The room had been recently used to test a vehicle under sub-zero temperatures. It is also possible to simulate hot weather in the same room. To make the tests as accurate as possible, there is a miniature “wind tunnel” in front of the vehicle that can generate a wind of up to 250 km/h.

The team encountered a more peculiar sight in another room; it is a telltale sign of the laboratory's nature. In order to ensure the high quality of the manufactured fuels, the motors being tested are also operated under extreme stress. This is why at least one motor per year malfunctions during testing.

The head of the Motor Laboratory, Group Manager Ari Engman, told the team that he had just wondered what had made a specific motor so durable. The motor in question malfunctioned less than an hour after this comment. When the team entered the room, the motor that had spectacularly malfunctioned was right there on the testing table, dismantled. In addition to such tests, fuels are studied in more regular use on normal roads outside the laboratory.

The youth look far into the future

The Millennium Youth Camp was an interesting project, according to Väinö Sippola, who acted as the team's host at Neste Oil.

“The team consisted of bright kids who had taken a lot of effort to be there,” Sippola said. The youth were selected based on their achievements in a project they completed in an online learning environment.

The project’s goal is to offer talented youth experiences and new ideas, and to encourage them to pursue a career in the field of science or technology. Sippola says, however, that the youth were also an inspiration to the employees of Neste Oil.

“It is nice to see that young people have such an in-depth view of the world. When completing their projects, they looked very far into the future, up to a hundred years from now.”

Millennium Youth Camp is an annual project by Technology Academy Finland (TAF) and is organized together with LUMA Centre of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. Previously this year, TAF named Neste Oil’s Lars Peter Lindfors as the technology leader of the year based on the work managed by Lindfors on finding new raw materials for the production of renewable fuels.