EPA Final Rule On Use Of TOFA Confirms SafetyOf Unsaturated Fatty Acids
On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its final rule establishing exemptions for a tolerance limit to use tall oil fatty acids (TOFA) as an inert ingredient “[i]n pesticide formulations applied to growing crops and raw agricultural commodities after harvest; in pesticides applied in/on animals, and in antimicrobial formulations for food contact surfaces.” Pursuant to Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA has the authority to establish exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance only when it can be demonstrated clearly that the risks from aggregate exposure to the pesticide residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures, particularly to infants and children, for which there is reliable information, will pose no appreciable risks to human health. In analyzing the risk, EPA considers both the toxicity of the inert ingredient and the reasonably foreseeable circumstances for exposure to the substance. Following its evaluation and consideration of the validity, completeness, and reliability of available toxicity data, EPA determined that sufficient data were available to conclude that TOFA do not have a toxic mechanism and will not pose a risk to the U.S. population.
EPA established the final rulemaking following a petition by Spring Trading Company on behalf of Ingevity Corporation requesting that 40 C.F.R. Sections 180.910, 180.930, and 180.940(a) be amended to establish the exemptions. The regulation is effective immediately and eliminates the need to establish maximum permissible levels for residues of TOFA that are consistent with the conditions of these exemptions. Objections and requests for hearings regarding the regulation are due by December 11, 2017.
EPA Approves Flint Hills Resources’ Plant For Cellulosic Ethanol Production
On October 12, 2017, Edeniq, Inc., a leading cellulosic and biorefining technology company, announced that Flint Hills Resources, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), received approval from EPA for cellulosic ethanol production at its Iowa Falls ethanol plant. The 100 million gallons per year plant will use Edeniq’s Pathway technology to produce the cellulosic ethanol and will be eligible to qualify its cellulosic gallons for generating D3 Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN). Iowa Falls is the second Flint Hills Resources plant, and the fifth overall, to receive approval for cellulosic ethanol production using Edeniq’s technology. Edeniq announced in December 2016 that EPA approved Flint Hills Resources’ registration of its Shell Rock ethanol plant for cellulosic ethanol production. According to Edeniq, its Pathway technology “remains the lowest-cost solution for producing and measuring cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber utilizing existing fermenters at existing corn ethanol plants, and has already proven cellulosic ethanol yields of up to 2.5% or higher, as a percentage of its customers’ total volume output.” Additionally, the technology allows for increases in corn oil production and greater overall ethanol yields.
American Process and Byogy Renewables Launch Phase 1 Of DOE-Funded Biofuels And Bioproducts Project
On October 9, 2017, American Process Inc. and Byogy Renewables, Inc. announced the launch of Phase 1 of its “Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts with AVAP (ABBA)” project following the completion of negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). American Process received $3.7 million in funding for ABBA from DOE under the “Project Definition for Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower” program. The ABBA project aims to co-produce full replacement renewable jet fuel, gasoline, diesel and Bioplus® nanocellulose from woody biomass to demonstrate that co-production of high volume commodity fuels and low volume, high value co-products enables profitable biorefineries at commercial scale. Phase 1 of ABBA involves defining engineering, permitting, and financing activities. Following successful completion of Phase 1, ABBA is eligible for a Phase 2 award of up to $45 million from DOE for construction and operation of the project. Production will take place in an integrated biorefineray at AVAPCO, an American Process biomass research, development and demonstration facility. The patented technologies and intellectual property provided by AVAPCO, Byogy, and Petron will allow for the conversion of wood to cellulose and cellulosic sugars, which are then converted to cellulosic biojet and nanocellulose.
DOE Researchers Optimize Lignin Processing By Combining Steps
Researchers at DOE’s Ames Laboratory are experimenting with chemical reactions that will provide an economical method of deconstructing lignin into stable, readily useful components. Lignin is the second largest renewable carbon source on the planet, making it of interest to researchers focused on developing biofuels and bioproducts. Currently, lignin is processed via pyrolysis or the use of an acid and high heat. Both processes are inefficient and require high energy consumption. Igor Slowing, an expert in heterogeneous catalysis, and his team are focused on developing a method of processing lignin at low temperature and pressure. To achieve this goal, the team combined the decomposition and stabilization process into a single step using mild conditions and a multi-functional catalyst, specifically phosphate-modified ceria. According to Slowing, the two processes appear to work synergistically at a lower temperature. Following the promising results, the team aims to achieve lignin deconstruction using hydrogen from a renewable source.