Fueling a sustainable future: Alternative feedstocks for fossil-based fuels

The energy supply of transportation as well as feedstocks for petrochemical industry are in front of great transformation due to climate change mitigation actions. Direct electrification is an important way of reducing emissions of transportation.

However, direct electrification is mainly limited to passenger cars covering only 15-30 % (2050) of total energy demand in transportation. Therefore, sustainable liquid and gaseous fuel are needed especially for such transportation modes, which are difficult to electrify directly including aviation, marine and long-haul heavy road transport. Oil refineries are in front of unprecedented challenge to convert their processes to use sustainable raw materials instead of fossil crude oil.

Download the white paper: 4 Alternative feedstock strategies

New sustainable, low carbon paths to chemicals, polymers and transportation fuels are thereby critically needed to secure supply of crucial materials of high demand and societal value. Biofuels based on lignocellulosic biomass, algae and municipal solid waste are part of the solution. 

In addition, so called electro fuels (e-fuels) are needed. They are produced by water splitting with electricity to obtain hydrogen. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel as such or it can be further converted with CO2 captured from industrial emissions or even from the air to transportation fuels being more compatible for current logistics and internal combustion engines than hydrogen as such. In addition to sustainable fuels, new feedstocks are also needed for petrochemical industry. For that, plastics recycling is in important role.

Feedstock options

Plastic as feedstock

Chemical recycling of plastics can be a game changer in circular economy. Pyrolysis and gasification, the main technologies of chemical recycling, allow us to recycle plastic waste which is otherwise incinerated or sent to landfill. With these chemical processes, manufacturing of refinery feeds for fuels and oils becomes viable, and the use of plastic as an alternative feedstock represents a new business opportunity to the oil industry.

plastic bottles
hydrogenpowered tram


With the price of renewable electricity sharply declining, production of e-fuels is becoming a reckoned option for oil and gas industry. Electrolysis is the most promising technology to produce these new generation of liquid fuels, but also other methods like biotechnological conversions are worth studying.

Biofuels from lignocellulose

New alternative feedstocks for liquid fuels are essential because electrification can not replace all fossil-based fuels in many decades. Lignocellulose is a promising feedstock for new climate neutral biofuels. It is sustainable, low-cost, and ready for large-scale production.

Thermochemistry pyrolysis at VTT Bioruukki
Young african american man workingTwo people throwing used disposable cups into rubbish pressing machine on waste station

Municipal solid waste

A unique concept to utilize Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and biomass as a feedstock for the oil and gas industry. The process combines gasification and electrolysis and merges the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis with local electricity and heat production.

Why partner with VTT

With the price of CO2 emissions sharply rising, oil companies must create a solid strategy for decarbonization and exploring options for alternative feedstocks.

  • Refining fossil oil might not be very profitable in the coming decades. 
  • Political pressure for cutting emissions intensifies, and the price of CO2 emissions is increasing much faster than expected. 
  • Increasing emission costs is affecting profitability of refining falls sharply. 
truck driving in the mountains

With help from VTT you can

  • Speed up your innovation process: Invest in the proper development initiatives at the right time. Anticipate technological development and business trends. Then, build a solid foundation for your strategy.

  • Develop new products and services: Solve complicated technical problems. Take advantage of creative interdisciplinary possibilities. 

  • Get access to the latest technology: Complement your technology portfolio with existing intellectual property. Gain a competitive edge from new commercial applications of unique, protected technologies.