The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 27, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) reminded funding opportunity applicants of the upcoming March 29, 2019, deadline for concept paper submissions on commercial truck, off-road vehicle, and gaseous fuels research.  On March 1, 2019, EERE BETO announced a funding opportunity of up to $51.5 million for new and innovative research technologies for trucks, off-road vehicles, and the fuels that power them.  This opportunity addresses research priorities in gaseous fuels research, including biopower, natural gas, and hydrogen.  It also focuses on heavy-duty freight electrification, hydrogen infrastructure, and fuel cell technologies for heavy-duty applications, and energy efficient off-road vehicles.  Full applications are due on May 15, 2019.  For additional information and other application requirements, see the EERE Exchange website.

Tags: DOE, EERE, BETO

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In March 2019, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), a conservation organization working across the U.S., published a report called New Research Findings Link Biofuel Mandate to Environmental Harm.  According to the report, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its implementation are leading to environmental disaster which involves the destruction of the monarch butterfly habitat, climate change acceleration, and drainage of western aquifers, amongst other issues.  The research referred to in the NWF report was prepared by the University of California-Davis, University of Wisconsin, and Kansas State University.  Scientists at the aforementioned institutions have assessed the direct connection between the U.S. biofuels policy and specific economic and field-level environmental changes since RFS’ inception ten years ago.  The report summarizes some of these connections and outlines measures Congress and the Administration must take to prevent further damage.

Tags: Biofuel, NWF, RFS

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 27, 2019, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2019 (S. 581).  The legislation would remove “burdensome” regulations on domestic energy production.  The bill “provides new economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers by allowing fuel producers and automobile manufacturers to innovate and bring new products to market that will lower costs for consumers, increase domestic energy production, and protect the environment,” said Senator Paul.  The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act would remove regulations blocking higher ethanol blends, such as gasoline blended with up to fifteen percent ethanol (E15), from entering the marketplace.  It also removes the requirement for EPA certifications on aftermarket vehicle conversions.  The bill specifically would reform Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements by allowing higher blend levels of ethanol to exceed the current 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi) standard, and it prevents EPA from regulating biomass fuel.  RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates into the atmosphere. EPA regulates RVP in conjunction with ozone emissions in the summer months.  Congress previously directed EPA to issue a “one pound waiver” for ethanol blends of ten percent, allowing E10 to be sold at 10.0 psi.  Last year, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA to look into the possibility of allowing year-round sales of E15.  This bill extends the Congressional waiver to higher blends of ethanol, including E15.

Tags: Biofuel, E15

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 18, 2019, (EPA) announced a public hearing to be held for the proposed rule: “Modifications to Fuel Registrations to Provide Flexibility for E15: Modifications to RFS RIN Market Regulations.”  84 Fed. Reg. 9734.  The proposed rule would implement regulatory changes allowing E15 to take advantage of a Renewal Fuels Standard (RFS) program waiver. Currently, the 1-psi Raid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver only applies to ten percent ethanol (E10) during the summer months. The proposed rule also includes an interpretative definition of E15 gasoline as “substantially similar” to the fuel used to certify Tier 3 motor vehicles.  Lastly, EPA is also proposing changes to some RFS compliance system elements that would improve renewable identification number market functioning and prevent market manipulation.  The public hearing will take place in Ypsilanti, MI, on March 29, 2019.  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on March 21, 2019.  84 Fed. Reg. 10584. Comments are due by April 29, 2019.

Tags: EPA, RFS, RIN, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee.   84 Fed. Reg. 9769.  The meeting will take place in Arlington, Virginia, on March 27 - 28, 2019, and will include discussions on developing advice and guidance promoting R&D leading to the production of biobased fuels and products.  The tentative agenda includes updates not only on DOE Biomass R&D activities, but also on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biomass R&D activities.  Presentations from government and industry can also be expected to provide insight on the intersection of forest health and bioenergy growth.  DOE will allow oral statements to be made during the meeting and will also be accepting written comments either before or after the meeting.  Meeting minutes will be available for public review and copying on the Biomass Board’s website.

Tags: DOE, USDA, Biomass

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In February 2019, the University of Utah published the article Algal lipid extraction using confined impinging jet mixers.  The article outlines the University of Utah engineers’ latest discovery of a new method for rapid lipid harvesting which is essential to energy parity for microbial derived biofuels.  This newly developed technique is not only faster but also more efficient, and uses confined impinging jet mixers (CIJM) to improve lipid extraction from microalgae.  CIJMs extract lipids rapidly and continuously creating a multistage unit operation of mixers that enhances microbial biofuel production.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 13, 2019, the European Commission (EC) published a fact sheet on the sustainability for biofuels specified.  EC adopted a delegated act that sets out the criteria for determining high low indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk feedstock for biofuels and the criteria for certifying ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels.  ILUC-risk fuels consist of fuels produced from food and feed crops that significantly expand globally into land with high carbon stock (high ILUC-risk fuels).  The consequences of creating high ILUC-risk fuels relate to the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which negates the emissions savings from the use of biofuels rather than fossil fuels.  ILUC is addressed in the delegated act through two measures:   one measure sets national limits for the total contribution towards the renewable energy targets for biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels from food or feed crops; and the other measure sets national limits as Member States’ 2019 level for the period 2021-2023.

Tags: EC, Biofuels, ILUC, GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 11, 2019, scientists at the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) published a study on nature microbiology on the gut anatomical properties of the passalid beetle that helps it transform decaying wood into energy-rich materials.  Passalid beetles’ digestive tracts contain microbes that provide a roadmap for the production of affordable, nature-derived bioproducts and biofuels.  The structure of these beetles’ guts allows for different microbial communities to coexist and perform unique biochemical metabolic processes in energy extraction.  The published article can be accessed here.


 
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