New feedstocks, new targets, new processes: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. NREL — home to the National Bioenergy Center — advances the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies and provides the knowledge to integrate and optimize energy systems.

NREL’s Phil Pienkos gave this illuminating update on new directions at NREL in this presentation given at ABLC Next in San Francisco.

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Notes from Scaleville: the Global Bioenergies, Gevo and Siluria stories

This week we’ve received news from three companies that have struck out in search of new markets for their fundamental processes, and new applications for biotechnology in some ancient and ossified markets such as jet fuel, C3 chemicals and gasoline.

The News from Global Bioenergies

In France, Global Bioenergies has started the start of the scale-up phase of a process converting renewable resources into acetone and isopropanol, two 3-carbon compounds that are extensively used in solvents, materials, and cosmetics. These compounds can subsequently be converted into propylene, a key molecule in the plastics industry. The process has been transferred to ARD, a company installed on the Pomacle-Bazancourt agro-industrial site and a specialist in scaling up fermentation processes, and the first pilot run has been successfully completed.

This innovative process is based on converting renewable resources by fermentation using bacterial strains with an engineered cellular metabolism. In nature, some bacteria produce acetone, but with a limited yield. Global Bioenergies’ innovation consists in radically remodeling the core carbon metabolism of the strains thereby unlocking high yields of sugar conversion.

The markets for both these 3-carbon compounds are well established and worth billions of dollars. In a further process, these two compounds can be converted to propylene, a key petrochemical building block with a market valued in excess of US$100 billion.

The Global Bioenergies backstory

Founded in 2008, Global Bioenergies’ most technically mature process is for the production of isobutene, a 4-carbon compound, from which fuels and materials are derived. While the process continues to be improved in the laboratory, demo plant trials are under way, and a full-scale plant project is being studied in a joint venture with Cristal Union, Europe’s fourth-largest sugar producer.

In search of lowest cost hydrocarbons: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Global Bioenergies

In search of lowest cost hydrocarbons: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Global Bioenergies

Reaction from the stakeholders

Yvon le Hénaff, CEO of ARD said: “This first C3 process scale-up run has enabled the successful production of a mix of acetone and isopropanol at kilogram scale. We could reach ton scale production as early as 2018.”

Luc Mathis, Chief Business Officer of Global Bioenergies, commented: “This initial success is a first step toward industrial-scale operation, to be implemented in a partnership business model. Global Bioenergies has both the scale-up equipment (pilot and demo), and the required chemical engineering and industrial design capabilities to drive the project forward.”

Frédéric Pâques, Chief Operations Officer of Global Bioenergies added: “Using strains whose core metabolism is engineered has enabled us to exceed the maximum fermentation yield obtainable by natural glycolysis-based bacteria in the lab, while maintaining an important carbon flux towards the targeted products. In the future, these high-yield bacteria could be used to produce many other products.”

Marc Delcourt, CEO of Global Bioenergies, concluded: “The isobutene and C3 processes target different markets which together constitute the core of the petrochemical industry

The news from Gevo

In Colorado, GE Aviation has commenced jet engine combustor component testing with a jet fuel comprised 100% of Gevo’s renewable alcohol-to-jet fuel .  The testing is being performed as part of the Federal Aviation Authority’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise Program.

Specifically, this testing is designed to enable the greater displacement of petroleum-based jet fuel by bio-based alternative products. Bio-based hydrocarbon fuels have similar performance characteristics to the petroleum-based fuels used today, albeit with reductions in particulate matter and other air quality related emissions. Some bio-based jet fuels, such as Gevo’s ATJ, have the potential to improve performance, such as providing greater energy density which translates into better mileage.

The Gevo ATJ backstory

In November 2016, we reported that Alaska Airlines made the first commercial flight using Gevo’s cellulosic renewable alcohol to jet fuel, originating in Seattle and flying to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Monday’s flight follows on the back of the two commercial flights that were flown by Alaska Airlines on Gevo’s ATJ in June of this year. The ATJ for the June flights was derived from isobutanol produced at the Gevo’s facility in Luverne, MN, using sustainable corn as the sugar feedstock.

And in September 2016, we reported that Gevo inked an agreement with Lufthansa to supply Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel from its first commercial hydrocarbons facility, intended to be built in Luverne, MN.  The terms of the agreement contemplate Lufthansa purchasing up to 8 million gallons per year of ATJ from Gevo, or up to 40 million gallons over the 5 year life of the off-take agreement.

Renewable jet fuel’s progress: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Gevo’s ATJ

Renewable jet fuel’s progress: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Gevo’s ATJ

Reaction from the stakeholders

“GE Aviation’s collaboration with the FAA and Gevo under CLEEN is an excellent example of our long-standing commitment to sustainable aviation. Efforts such as this one are expected to help accelerate the transition from petroleum-based fuels to more environmentally friendly ones,” said Dr. Gurhan Andac, Engineering Leader, Aviation Fuels & Additives, GE Aviation.

“If we are truly going to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aviation, we need to be able to replace larger percentages of petroleum jet fuel with bio-based alternatives such as Gevo’s ATJ. The future is to replace the whole barrel of oil with bio-based hydrocarbons that stimulate the economy, mitigate GHG emissions, draw on abundant resources and enhance sustainability. We want to thank the FAA and GE Aviation for their vision in supporting projects like this one,” said Gevo CEO Dr. Patrick Gruber.

The news from Siluria

In California, Siluria Technologies and Wood have released their new Modus process technology, a cost-efficient, one step process to upgrade low value refinery off gases, otherwise burned for heat, into high value fungible refinery products.

The Modus process is based on a commercially proven catalyst system that converts light olefins, such as ethylene and propylene often contained in refinery offgas streams, to high-quality gasoline blendstock with a 90+ octane rating and ultra-low sulfur content.

Modus can be readily integrated into existing refinery operations with minimal capital investment and operating impacts.  Based on standard modular design and construction, Modus can be rapidly deployed as a standalone upgrade during routine maintenance turnarounds or revamp projects.

While the cost to install Modus depends upon specific refinery size, configuration, and layout, for a typical refinery the total cost is usually less than $50M, with a short 1 to 3-year payback period.

Installation of Modus is performed using modular construction (e.g. constructed in modules that are shipped by truck and assembled onsite), which allows for very rapid installation and integration into the refinery’s operations. Installation at the refinery can be performed during routine maintenance turnaround periods. And, Modus allows refiners to potentially reduce their environmental emissions by avoiding the burning of olefins, which can cause high particulate and other air emissions.

The Siluria backstory

Siluria’s oxidative coupling of methane technology, catalytically converts methane (and can co-feed ethane) into ethylene and water. Ethylene is the world’s largest petrochemical building block used in the production of a wide range of plastics, coatings, adhesives, engine coolants, detergents and other everyday products. Ethylene from the OCM reaction can be purified using conventional separations technologies, resulting in petrochemical grade ethylene ready for use in downstream chemical production or transport in an ethylene pipeline.

Now, Siluria has developed a second process, known as Ethylene to Liquids to convert unpurified ethylene from the OCM process to hydrocarbon liquid fuels. The OCM ethylene effluent is oligomerized over a different catalyst to selectively produce targeted products, such as gasoline, condensate, aromatics, heavy oil diluents or distillates including diesel or jet fuel.

Siluria’s ETL catalyst development strategy has leveraged decades old commercial alkene oligomerization catalyst experience and practice. Through catalyst formulation and process condition optimization, The ETL process is being developed in a large-scale integrated pilot reactor system located in Siluria’s Hayward, California facility.

Siluria’s OCM + ETL process differs substantially from other Gas to Liquid (GTL) processes, such as Fischer-Tropsch and Methanol to Gasoline.

For example, Siluria’s OCM+ETL process does not go through any syngas (carbon monoxide and hydrogen) intermediates, which is utilized in the FT process.  Converting syngas into hydrocarbon products result in a broad product distribution ranging typically from C1 to C40. This necessitates significant additional refining/separations and energy input. In contrast, utilizing ethylene results in a simpler process, lower capital costs and more flexibility in term of scale.

Why is OCM new, or is it?

OCM has been around for a generation, as a technology. The problem is that no one has been able to make OCM work on an economic basis – the catalysts just didn’t have the right selectivity or activity rates. After a great deal of excitement and research in the 80s and 90s, attention petered out.

But, inspired by the way nanomaterials are created by nature, Siluria develops metals and metal oxide crystals grown on biological templates. The metals coating the virus form a nanotube structure they refer to as a “hairball”, giving the catalyst a greater surface area, which enhances the reactions, at temperatures 200 to 300 below current steam cracking methods, greatly reducing the energy needed by current technology to produce ethylene.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Many refinery offgas and fuel streams contain varying amounts of olefins, which require complex and costly solutions to recover.  As a result, these valuable streams are often burned for fuel or heat,” said Robert Trout, Siluria’s President and CEO. “Modus provides a simple, reliable alternative by upgrading these fuel-value streams to more valuable liquids that can be easily integrated into the refinery product slate.”

“Modus provides multiple benefits to refiners including greater operational flexibility and the potential for emissions reductions, without disruption to continuous operations of the refinery,” said Robin Watson, chief executive of Wood. “This technology creates and enhances value for our customers through a unique chemical conversion to provide a valuable product stream for the refinery.”

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What’s the latest in bioenergy R&D, DOE? The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to US DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (establishes partnerships with key public and private stakeholders to develop technologies for producing cost-competitive advanced biofuels from non-food biomass resources, including cellulosic biomass, algae, and wet waste (e.g., biosolids).

BETO works with a broad spectrum of government, industrial, academic, agricultural, and nonprofit partners across the United States to develop commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower made from renewable U.S. biomass resources that reduce our dependence on imported oil while enhancing energy security.

What’s the latest? BETO Director Jonathan Male answered the question in this update, given at ABLC Next 2017 in San Francisco. In this deck, he looks at milestones ahead, programs, goals and challenges.

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Green Plains plans massive expansion of Syngenta’s Enogen corn ethanol technology

Good news arrives from Minnesota that Syngenta has partnered with Green Plains to expand its use of Enogen corn enzyme technology across GPRE’s 1.5 billion gallon production platform.

The Enogen backstory

Enogen corn enzyme technology is an in-seed innovation available exclusively from Syngenta and features the first biotech corn output trait designed specifically to enhance ethanol production. Using modern biotechnology to deliver best-in-class alpha amylase enzyme directly in the grain, Enogen corn eliminates the need to add liquid alpha amylase and creates a win-win-win scenario by adding value for ethanol plants, corn growers and rural communities.

We reported in January that Syngenta had reached agreements with ethanol plants, from Arizona to Ohio, with a combined total capacity of nearly 2 billion gallons.

Looking ahead, Ron Wulfkuhle, head of Enogen at Syngenta added that the combination of Cellerate process technology and Enogen corn will help ethanol plants increase efficiency even further. Cellerate converts corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol and can help plants produce more ethanol from the same kernel of corn, increase total yield of distillers corn oil and improve the protein content of feed co-products.

We reported in August 2016 that trials at Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) demonstrated as much as a 26 percent increase in in production when Cellerate process technology and the use of Enogen corn were combined.

What does Enogen do?

The alpha amylase enzyme found in Enogen grain helps an ethanol plant significantly reduce the viscosity of its corn mash and eliminates the need to add a liquid form of the enzyme. This breakthrough reduction can lead to unprecedented levels of solids loading, which directly contributes to increased throughput and yield, as well as critical cost savings from reduced natural gas, electricity and water usage. Here’s a visual demo of that.

The Green Plains rationale

According to Green Plains President and CEO Todd Becker, the opportunity to enhance production and invest locally are key benefits of using Enogen corn.

“We have been using Enogen corn at a number of our locations for the past several years and have noted significant benefits, including enhanced yield and reduced energy costs,” Becker said. “Combining our focus to buy more corn directly from farmers and purchasing alpha amylase locally, in the form of high-quality grain for all of our plants, we believe Enogen will create value for our shareholders, growers and the communities where we do business.”

Green Plains is a corn monster, purchasing more than 500 million bushels each year. Using Enogen corn as a portion of the feedstock enables alpha amylase to be delivered directly in the grain, eliminating the need to add a liquid form of the enzyme and significantly reducing the viscosity of the corn mash.

The Grower Rationale

Farmers who grow Enogen corn are eligible to earn an additional premium per Enogen bushel. And, numerous trials have shown that Enogen hybrids perform equal to or better than other high-performing corn hybrids.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Enogen is rapidly gaining popularity because of the value it delivers to ethanol producers and the opportunity it provides corn growers to be enzyme suppliers for their local ethanol plants,” said Jeff Oestmann, head, Bio-fuels Operations – Enogen at Syngenta. “Enogen corn enzyme technology creates increased profit potential for ethanol producers and corn growers while adding significant incremental value at the local level for communities that rely on their ethanol plant’s success.

“Syngenta is committed to the success of the U.S. ethanol industry and to helping ethanol plants adopt the best enzyme strategy. We are proud to have made a significant investment to bring this game-changing technology to market to help make ethanol more sustainable and to help plants differentiate their offerings and support their local communities by keeping enzyme dollars local,” Oestmann added.

 

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Performance-enhanced biomaterials: the Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Reverdia

Reverdia is a joint venture between Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, and Roquette Frères, the global starch and starch-derivatives company. Reverdia is dedicated to be the global leader in the market for sustainable succinic acid, focusing on market development by establishing partnerships with direct and indirect customers, building on customer needs and Reverdia’s strengths.

Reverdia recently produced this illuminating overview of the company’s technology, prospects and progress, in the slides below.

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Santa’s comin’ to town with Red Tractor and sustainability schemes

All some farmers want for Christmas this year is a sustainability certification that is EU approved. Farmers and biofuel producers in the EU, or exporting biofuel to the EU, need to validate their products and supply chain as sustainable for buyers who demand it and the EU government which requires it, but when their sustainability certification expires and isn’t renewed by the European Commission, their stocking looks pretty empty.

The good news is Red Tractor just got their 5-year biofuels RED approval from the EU, putting an end to the extensions and waiting that has been going on since the spring for Red Tractor certified biofuel growers and producers in the United Kingdom.

But why is there sometimes a gap in EU approval and what does this mean for biofuel producers around the world, not just in the UK or EU? And what are these sustainability certifications all about anyway? Will they help us get on Santa’s good list?

Sustainability schemes just a scheme?

For some of us in the U.S., we may not know much about sustainability certifications because our government doesn’t require it for biofuels (though some like JetBlue, United Airlines, Lanzatech, and others are all over it). But in Europe, you can’t produce or sell biofuel without some sort of sustainability certification – often called “voluntary schemes” even though “scheme” has a negative connotation here in the States, perhaps hindering its uptake in American conversations.

Why the need for sustainability certifications in Europe? Because the EU government wants to make sure farmers and producers aren’t chopping down rainforests to make biofuel and that they are actually reducing GHG emissions over fossil fuels. Some governments, like the U.S., hope you do, but don’t require you prove it with a third-party, independently verified and audited sustainability certification.

So the news last week that Red Tractor, one of the certifications for biofuels made from combinable crops and sugar beets, received approval from the European Commission that they will continue to recognize the scheme under the Renewable Energy Directive, was a huge sigh of relief for Red Tractor certified farmers and biofuel producers. This new recognition will run until 2023, regardless of any negotiations or new policy structures which are formed as part of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Red Tractor applied for continued recognition in the spring of 2017, however the Commission was unable to complete the approval process in time. As reported in the Digest in August, there was some neighborly love that Santa would have been proud of, as Scottish wheat growers jumped in to help their southern neighbors by supplying feedstock to ethanol plants covered by the SQC scheme (that was approved by EU RED) until Red Tractor could sort things out. Eventually, Red Tractor was granted two extensions to ensure all crops could continue to be traded unhindered until full registration was confirmed, thank goodness for the UK crop producers.

As a result of the review process by the Commission, however, a small change was made to the Red Tractor standards which only affects UK growers who have converted land to arable for the production of biofuels in the past 10 years (which is likely a large number of growers).

The only constant is change

If you paid attention to that previous paragraph, there are changes to certification standards and yes, that goes along with the territory with any certification system, not just Red Tractor.

Technology changes, new crops and feedstocks emerge, new research finds something we thought was great for the environment isn’t so great. So one thing we can be sure about is that sustainability certifications will change and farmers and producers have to adapt to those changes. One year, they may get certified for doing everything properly, but the following year they can’t be certified because of something now deemed unfit for certification and thus need to make improvements or adjustments to their operations or process.

So does that mean growers and producers give up? Well, in the EU, they can’t – it’s required to have a sustainability certification for biofuels.

But what about the rest of the world? Should we just say “aw, shucks, not worth the trouble” or “Bah humbug, I’m on the naughty list already anyway?”

Absolutely not.

Farmers and producers can’t ignore sustainability certifications, even if not required by government. They have consumers and buyers who are concerned about image and branding. As more and more people and businesses are paying attention to impact on climate change, GHG emissions, environmental impact and human rights issues, the more everyone in biofuel supply chains need to pay attention.

Having sustainability certification can show you are on Santa’s good list. It can show transparency, attention to details, efficient and non-wasteful processes, care for air and water pollution, preservation of biodiversity, and more. It doesn’t mean you are perfect, but it can show you are the cream of the crop and trying to make a difference for the better.

Red Tractor, for example, said back in 2012 when it first obtained EU RED approval, that it “should improve the export market for UK farmers – both for grain and seed generally and, specifically, for biofuels going into Germany.” Matthew Read, chairman of the Red Tractor Crops and Sugar Beet scheme, said in their press release, “We have great confidence in the quality of the Red Tractor Crops and Sugar Beet scheme which, as well as its food safety objectives, has at its heart environmental protection and traceability.” Who can argue with the fact that “environmental protection and traceability” and helping farmers export their products into more markets is a good thing?

Bottom Line

Whether it’s purely for branding and marketing purposes, for financial reasons and improved ability to export product, or because you really do care about the planet and people and want to prove you are truly sustainable, sustainability certifications are a good start on the path to Santa’s good list.

Crop farmers and biofuel producers should still hang up their stocking on Christmas Eve and try to obtain sustainability certification for their products or supply chain. Why? Because while it isn’t perfect, it is something – and having something in your stocking is better than nothing.

 

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Neste moves forward with Renewable Products program

In Finland, Neste’s Board of Directors decided that Neste’s additional production capacity for renewable diesel, renewable aviation fuel and raw materials for various biochemical uses will be located in Singapore. The decision initiates technical design of the new production line, with the aim of a final investment decision by the end of 2018. If the project proceeds as planned, production at the new production line will begin by 2022.

The new production line will extend Neste’s current capacity in the Singapore refinery by one million tons. The growth project includes an enhanced pre-treatment unit in preparation for the use of increasingly poor-quality waste materials.

Neste currently has a renewable diesel production capacity of 2.6 million tons. Of this total, over one million is produced in Singapore, the same amount in Rotterdam and the rest in Porvoo, Finland. By eliminating bottlenecks, this total capacity will be increased to 3 million tons by 2020. In addition to producing renewable diesel, the refineries are able to produce renewable aviation fuel and raw materials for various biochemical uses.

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Scania invests SEK 1.5 billion in energy-efficient foundry

In Sweden, Scania plans to invest about SEK 1.5 billion (a little over $176 million) in a new foundry in Södertälje, in order to triple production capacity and achieve a 50 percent reduction in energy consumption compared to the technology and methods used in the current foundry. Through more efficient materials handling and recycling, a sharp reduction will also be achieved in the transport need per manufactured unit. The foundry will be operated using electricity produced from renewable energy sources. The investment in a completely new foundry is one of Scania’s largest single investments in an entirely new industrial plant.

“In the ongoing shift towards a fossil-free society, even more energy-efficient combustion engines as well as combustion engines that operate on biofuels and gas will be needed. In particular for trucks and buses in long distance transport. The new foundry will be instrumental in providing such engines,” Ruthger de Vries, Executive Vice President, Head of Production and Logistics at Scania said in their press release.

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Arizona Public Service study calls for more biomass energy generation

In Arizona, a study presented to the Arizona Corporation Commission and conducted by Arizona Public Service is promoting the addition of more biomass into its energy portfolio. APS hopes the increase in biomass use will allow the utility to collect an additional $95 million in revenues, according to WMI Central. “The study could provide a blueprint for the development of bioenergy fueled by forest waste from thinning projects, but it is just a preliminary step in a process that could take years to develop.”

APS currently serves 1.2 million customers statewide and purchases 14 megawatts of energy from Novo BioPower in Snowflake as part of the company’s renewable energy portfolio, according to WMI Central. The study looked at three levels of biofuels usage from low, medium and high and APS would continue to purchase from Novo BioPower for all three levels, but could include the development of other plants like forest thinnings from the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.

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Södra and Statkraft building new demo plant in Norway

In Norway, Sweden-based Södra and Statkraft are investing approximately SEK 500 million (nearly $59 million) in a new demo facility for fossil-free fuel. The biofuel will be based on forest raw material and the demo facility is expected to be in operation by spring 2019. The investment will be made through the joint company Silva Green Fuel AS, in partnership with technology provider Steeper Energy Aps and Norwegian financing partner Enova.

The demo facility will be located in Tofte, Norway, and project planning will commence in the winter. Start-up is planned for spring 2019, with a capacity of about 4,000 litres per day. The raw material will consist of residual products from the forest industry.

The demo facility is a first step towards a full-scale facility. It will be used to develop both the process and the technology for producing the new biofuel. In the next stage, the plan is to establish a full-scale facility, with biofuel production for various types of transport, including road and air.

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Conventional soybean meal prices jump sharply

In Germany, UFOP reports that prices of conventional soybean meal firmed substantially at the end of November 2017 following the sharp drops seen in the first three quarters of 2017. Dryness in Argentina fueled concerns about soybean crop failures and, as a result of this, a decline in processing. Since hitting this year’s low at the beginning of September 2017, 48 per cent protein soybean meal picked up around 14 per cent to reach EUR 333 per tonne. 44 per cent protein soybean meal even went up 15 per cent to EUR 310 per tonne. However, this trend still left prices for both meal qualities at a level just below the mid-January peaks. The substantial decrease in the price level over the first eight months of 2017 was followed by a longer consolidation phase where ample global supply limited price increases. The reason for the past few weeks’ sudden surge was the dry weather conditions in Argentina, Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI) reported. Argentina is the world’s biggest exporter of soybean meal. The current lack of soil moisture is causing a delay in soybean plantings and checks in plant growth. The coming weeks will show whether the price increase is sustained over the longer term. Currently, only 50 per cent of the soybean production areas have been planted.

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U.S. ethanol production hits second-highest volume on record

In Washington, D.C., ethanol production averaged 1.089 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 45.74 million gallons daily production, which is down 20,000 b/d from last week’s record high, yet still high enough to capture the second-highest volume on record, according to government data released and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. The four-week average for ethanol production increased to a record 1.084 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.62 billion gallons. Stocks of ethanol were 22.4 million barrels. That is a 0.4% decrease from last week. There were zero imports recorded for the week.

Average weekly gasoline demand increased 2.2% to 381.8 million gallons (9.091 million barrels) daily. This is equivalent to 139.4 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol increased 3.5% to 916,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.04 billion gallons annualized. The ethanol content in gasoline supplied to the market averaged 10.08%, up from 9.95% the previous week but down from the record 10.57% seen three weeks ago. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production decreased to 11.98%.

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Cruz proposes 10 cent cap on each renewable fuel credit

In Texas, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) proposed a cap of 10 cents on each renewable fuel credit, which is a fraction of their value, to be placed to help the oil industry and refiners deal with the RFS requirements. His proposal requests that the EPA sell “fixed price waiver credits” at 10 cents each and also proposed the formation of a working group to come up with a longer-term solution, according to Reuters. Cruz supports refiners who are saying the RFS costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year and could put them out of business. Corn state Congress members are asking Cruz and other lawmakers linked to the oil and refining industries to come up with alternative proposals that could lower credit costs without harming the RFS.

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NREL develops novel method to produce renewable acrylonitrile

In Colorado, the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) established a novel catalytic method to produce renewable acrylonitrile using 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), which can be biologically produced from sugars. This hybrid biological-catalytic process offers an alternative to the conventional petrochemical production method and achieves unprecedented acrylonitrile yields. Researchers were able to achieve a 98% yield of acrylonitrile using a new, robust catalytic process.

In addition to the high yields, this new approach has multiple benefits over the current petroleum-based acrylonitrile production process. The new process eliminates production of hydrogen cyanide—a toxic side product—uses a simpler and less expensive catalyst, and could be done in a simpler reactor configuration. Moreover, this new high-yield process can utilize non-food biomass, such as agricultural wastes, as a feedstock instead of propylene. Acrylonitrile, a petroleum-derived commodity chemical, is one of the most widely used monomers in the chemical industry with many commercial applications.

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Canada publishes framework for design of Clean Fuel Standard

In Canada, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, moved Canada a step closer to using cleaner fuels, with the release of the regulatory framework outlining the proposed design of Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard. The framework will provide the basis for technical discussions and regulations that will require the use of cleaner fuels in vehicles, industries, and buildings. This is one of the ways in which Canada is taking bold action to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations, build a clean economy, and create more opportunities for middle-class Canadians.

Officials from Environment and Climate Change Canada will engage industry, other governments, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to work through the technical details of the Clean Fuel Standard with the aim of publishing draft regulations by late 2018.

The Clean Fuel Standard will require fuel producers, importers, or distributors to reduce the amount of carbon pollution associated with liquid, solid, and gaseous fuels. They will be able to do this by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced during any part of a fuel’s lifecycle—whether they are released during production, when transporting the fuel to processors and end users, or when the fuel is combusted. The Clean Fuel Standard will be a flexible regulation that will provide a wide range of compliance options for fuel producers, importers, or distributors.

More on the story.

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US and German researchers produce biofuel from Greek yogurt waste

In New York state, consumers across the world enjoy Greek yogurt for its taste, texture, and protein-packed punch. Reaching that perfect formula, however, generates large volumes of food waste in the form of liquid whey. Now researchers in the United States and Germany have found a way to use bacteria to turn the leftover sugars and acids from Greek yogurt into molecules that could be used in biofuels or safe feedstock additives. Their work appears December 13 in the journal Joule.

More on the story.

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University of Florida researchers find sorghum varieties that could produce 1,000 gallons per acre

In Florida, the potential for sorghum as a biofuel feedstock just grew as University of Florida researchers found three UF/IFAS-developed sorghum varieties could produce up to 1,000 gallons of ethanol per acre.
UF/IFAS scientists like sorghum because it can be cultivated twice a year in Florida, requires little fertilizer, uses water efficiently and can be drought resistant, UF/IFAS research shows.

For a newly published study, UF/IFAS scientists wanted to see if they could use the three sweet sorghum cultivars as raw material for bioethanol production.

More on the story.

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Argentine biodiesel export tax could support EU prices

In Argentina, Platts expects European biodiesel prices to be supported by the new 8% export tariff lobbed onto Argentine biodiesel exports following significant supply pressure as a result of a return to imports into Europe. The new import tax expected for January 1 could boost FAME-0 prices sufficiently that imports become unviable or that inbound volumes recede significantly as a result. The additional of an export tax is meant to demonstrate that Argentine biodiesel exports aren’t subsidized.

More on the story.

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China to import 2.5 million tons of cassava for ethanol production

In Tanzania, China has signed an offtake agreement for 2.5 million metric tons of cassava that will later be imported for ethanol production. Although much of the focus on the 2020 10% ethanol-blending mandate has been on corn-based ethanol, cassava-based ethanol production has been growing in China and the wider Asian region. Already the country is producing ethanol from dry cassava, so the new mandate could help to boost demand for domestic cassava as well as imports.

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Indian sugar mills say they could supply more ethanol if needed

In India, the Hindu newspaper says that despite sugar mills contracting a record amount of ethanol sales with oil marketing companies, they say that if a second round of tenders was held that more volume could be offered. A total of 3.13 billion liters are required to achieve the 10% ethanol-blending mandate in 2018 but mills only offered 1.13 billion liters. The limit on 10% of fossil fuel volumes at specific depots kept more ethanol from being offered but an unknown amount of additional ethanol could be offered if this restriction was lifted.

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