Biobased and Renewable Products Update
September 7, 2017
EPA Waives RFS Requirements For States Affected By Hurricane Harvey
On August 31, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that requirements for reformulated gasoline and low volatility gasoline would be waived through September 15, 2017, for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia. EPA exercised its emergency fuel waiver authority to help ensure an adequate supply of fuel throughout the South, Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. As required by law, EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) evaluated the impacts of Hurricane Harvey on refineries in the Gulf Coast based on strict criteria provided in the Clean Air Act (CAA) and determined that granting a short-term waiver was consistent with the public interest. The CAA requires that waivers be limited as much as possible in terms of their geographic scope and duration. EPA and DOE continue to monitor the fuel supply situation and will act if it is determined that extreme and unusual supply circumstances exist in other areas.
DOC Announced Open REEEAC Meeting
On September 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) published in the Federal Register a notice of an open meeting of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC). REEEAC will hold a meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on November 16, 2017, in Washington, D.C. REEEAC provides the Secretary of Commerce with advice from the private sector on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand the export competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services. The meeting will include REEEAC subcommittee working sessions, a discussion on next steps for each subcommittee, consideration of recommendations for approval, and an update from DOC and other agencies on major issues affecting the competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. An agenda will be available upon request by November 1, 2017. Stakeholders interested in participating in the meeting must register with Victoria Gunderson ([email protected]) by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on November 10, 2017.
EU Commission Extends Red Tractor Biofuel Crop Assurance Scheme
On August 25, 2017, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) announced that the European Commission confirmed the extension of the Red Tractor voluntary scheme for biofuels for an initial three months. Red Tractor is a certification body used to prove that crops meet European Union (EU) sustainability requirements. To receive public support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels used in the EU must comply with the EU’s sustainability criteria. One way for a company to demonstrate compliance is to participate in voluntary schemes recognized by the European Commission.
As with the other voluntary schemes, Red Tractor was approved for a period of five years, which expired on August 1, 2017. On August 24, 2017, NFU called on the Commission to urgently address concerns that Red Tractor-approved crops will no longer be able to enter the European biofuels market. The Commission responded by confirming that the Red Tractor scheme continues to be considered compliant with the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sustainability criteria until November 5, 2017, pending another five-year approval.
DuPont, ADM Win Innovation In Bioplastics Award
On August 25, 2017, the Bioplastics Division of the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) awarded DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) the 2017 Innovation in Bioplastics Award. DuPont and ADM were recognized for their development of a method to produce furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose derived from corn starch. Compared to traditional conversion methods used to produce the biobased monomer, the new method is more sustainable and results in higher yields, lower energy, and capital expenditures. Patrick Krieger, PLASTICS Assistant Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs, stated that “the breakthrough process […] will make bioplastics a competitive option in more applications across various industries.” The new FDME process is currently being used to develop polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a 100 percent renewable and recyclable polymer with improved gas barrier properties, which can extend shelf life and lighten the weight of products in the beverage packaging industry.
On August 31, 2017, DuPont successfully merged with the Dow Chemical Company and began operating as a holding company under the name “DowDuPont™” with three divisions, specifically Agriculture, Materials Science, and Specialty Products. DuPont’s Industrial Biosciences business is organized under the Specialty Products division.
HelioBioSys Inc. Patents Algae-like Organisms For Biofuels
Sandia National Laboratories announced that it is helping HelioBioSys Inc. learn whether farming cyanobacteria on a large scale would be successful in producing sugar for biofuels. HelioBioSys Inc. patented a group of three non-genetically modified marine cyanobacteria for the production of sugars, which can then be converted into a variety of fuels and chemicals. Similar to algae, cyanobacteria grow in water and avoid competition with food crops for land, water, and other resources, making them a desirable renewable resource. Cyanobacteria colonies, however, grow more efficiently than algae and excrete sugars directly into the water where they grow. Whereas a typical algae farm may produce one gram of biomass per liter, small-scale testing of the cyanobacteria demonstrate that they can produce four to seven grams of sugar per liter of biomass, a 700 percent increase in efficiency. Additionally, filtering sugar from water is simpler and more cost effective than extracting lipids from algae.
Now that HelioBioSys has proven the efficacy of the cyanobacteria in a closed, controlled, sterile laboratory, the company is working with Sandia researchers to understand where predation may cause issues by growing the organisms in large open air raceway systems, and to further study how the three types of cyanobacteria work together.
■ Biotechnology For Biofuels, “The Impact of Considering Land Intensification and Updated Data on Biofuels Land Use Change and Emissions Estimates”
■ University of California, Irvine, “Markus Ribbe and Yilin Hu: Brewing Biofuel from Bacteria”
■ United Kingdom Government, “Planes Fuelled by Waste Could Take Off from British Airports”