Finnish companies Outotec and Neste Corp. announced they have jointly verified the viability of applying Neste’s MY Renewable Isoalkane as a fully bio-based diluent for extracting metals in hydrometallurgical processes. The diluent is based on Neste’s NEXBTL technology and produced entirely from bio-based waste and residue raw materials. Neste is a major producer of renewable diesel refined from waste and residues, as well as other refined oil products.

Outotec reported that laboratory studies and pilot trials at its research center in Pori, Finland, and Neste’s technology center in Porvoo, Finland, confirmed high-level performance of the product for solvent extraction of copper, and that it can be also used for other base metals.

Because of its renewable origin and biodegradability, the bio-based diluent reduces environmental risk and has a remarkably smaller carbon footprint over its life cycle when compared to fossil equivalents, according to the two companies. In addition, Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane evaporates at a lower rate, which improves copper extraction efficiency and safety due to significantly reduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the company said.

Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane is claimed to be fully compatible with conventional fossil diluents at solvent extraction plants and can be introduced into the extraction process without any downtime.

“This cooperation with Neste is part of our continuous innovation efforts of improving the environmental performance of our technologies and helping our customers to meet their sustainability goals,” Outotec Chief Technology OfficerKari Knuutila said. “In this project, experts from two industries discovered synergies and co-created a new application for Neste’s bio-based product.”

“Collaboration with Outotec provides us with a great opportunity to introduce Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane as a new 100% bio-based solution to metals extraction. 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,” said Mercedes Alonso, executive vice president, Renewable Polymers and Chemicals at Neste.

To introduce Neste MY Renewable Isoalkane to metal producers, Outotec will provide technical industry expertise, and Neste will handle production, sales and deliveries of the bio-based diluent to the solvent extraction sites globally.