We wish to extend our very best wishes to you in the New Year.
EPA Proposes New Fuel Pathways Under RFS Program
On December 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve new fuel pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Specifically, EPA is proposing to amend RFS regulations to define the term “distillers sorghum oil” and to add approved pathways from the production of biodiesel and heating oil from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process. Distillers sorghum oil is grain sorghum oil extracted at any point downstream from sorghum grinding at dry mill ethanol plants.
The proposed rule outlines EPA’s analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with certain biofuels produced from distiller sorghum oil. Based on its assessment, EPA determined that using distillers sorghum oil as feedstock results in no significant agricultural sector GHG emissions, and that biodiesel and heating oil produced from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and LPG produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process, would meet the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50 percent required for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel under the RFS program. Comments on the analysis are due by January 26, 2018.
In addition to EPA approval of the new pathway, producers may wish to confirm that the final sorghum-based product and all intermediates are listed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory or covered by an exemption prior to commercialization. While naturally occurring substances are automatically added to the TSCA Inventory, the TSCA “naturally occurring exemption” is very narrow. Specifically, a naturally occurring substance includes “any chemical substance which is naturally occurring and: (1) [w]hich is (i) unprocessed or (ii) processed only by manual, mechanical, or gravitational means; by dissolution in water; by flotation; or by heating solely to remove water; or (2) [w]hich is extracted from air by any means.”
DOE Awards $1.5 Million Grant For Algae Biofuel Production
On December 14, 2017, General Automation Lab Technologies (GALT) announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) a three year $3.5 million grant to improve the growth and efficiency of biofuel-producing algae. LLNL and GALT will collaborate on the project, which also aims to reduce wasted byproducts of photosynthesis by targeting microbiomes that can more efficiently recycle it back to carbon dioxide for the algae to grow better. GALT’s novel high-throughput microbiome research technology will be used to screen tens of thousands of microbiome combinations. Researchers aim to target bacteria that are able to increase biomass yield under the high light and temperature stress conditions that are found in desert environments such as Arizona, where plenty of sunlight and useable land exist and could potentially support future algal biofuel production facilities.
USDA Announces Support For SBIR Phase II Projects
On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the release of a request for applications (RFA) for Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects. The SBIR program is comprised of three phases. During Phase I, applicants determine the scientific or technical feasibility of their proposed ideas. Phase II requires a more comprehensive application, outlining the proposed effort in further detail. The purpose of Phase III is to stimulate technological innovation and return on investment from research carried out in the prior two phases. Applicants must have successfully completed a USDA Phase I project before applying for a Phase II grant.
NIFA is soliciting applications under 13 topic areas, including Biofuels and Biobased Products. Projects dealing with agriculturally-related manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged across all 2018 SBIR topic areas.
Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on March 8, 2018. More information on the RFA is available on the NIFA website.
ITC Issues Final Determinations On Biodiesel From Argentina And Indonesia
On December 28, 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued in the Federal Register a notice regarding its final determination on the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia. Pursuant to the Tariff Act of 1930, ITC determined that an industry in the United States is materially injured by reason of imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, which have been found by the Department of Commerce (DOC) to be subsidized by the governments of Argentina and Indonesia. ITC completed and filed its determinations on December 21, 2017, after holding a hearing on November 9, 2017, in which all interested parties were permitted to appear. The views of ITC will be published in USITC Publication 4748 (December 2017), entitled Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia: Investigation Nos. 701-TA-571-572, which will be available on the ITC website shortly.
Neste Launches Online Platform For Sustainable Aviation Solutions
On December 21, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the launch of its online hub focused on sustainable aviation solutions. Decarbonizingaviation.com is an online platform designed to raise awareness and facilitate dialog in reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint. The results of a recent survey by Neste demonstrate that 50 percent of travelers consider it important that their airline goes above and beyond regulations to be environmentally friendly, and that most passengers are willing to pay a fee for renewable jet fuel. With nearly 90 percent growth in air travel predicted between 2016 and 2035, a transition towards carbon neutral growth is needed to curb the rise in carbon dioxide emissions from aviation. According to Paul Paoletta, Head of Neste Aviation Solutions, “Neste is working relentlessly to help airports and all aviation stakeholders to take advantage of sustainable low-carbon fuels in their operations.”