DOE recently released a notice of intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), "Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts." The FOA will seek to reduce algal biofuels' projected cost by up to 50% through the creation of valuable bioproducts alongside fuels, thus achieving increased biomass productivity. See online.
Energy Trends Insider posted a column analyzing the current status of global biofuels. Information for the analysis was derived from the Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, which was issued in June 2014. According to the column author, "the GSR is the most comprehensive report available when it comes to the global renewable energy picture." To view the analysis, go online.
Global Biofuels Demand Slows Down
According to an article posted at Biofuels International, biofuels growth in the 2013-18 period will be modest compared to the 2008-13 period. See online.
Chemistry World reports that ionic liquids could potentially be made more cheaply by recycling by-products from biofuel production processes. These ionic liquids derived from biofuel waste could then actually be turned to extracting sugars from biomass to be made into fuels. See online.
On August 22, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the final 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for its review and formal publication in the Federal Register. This much anticipated review is the last step before public release. Nearly nine months behind schedule currently, it is unclear whether OMB will move quickly to release and publish the rule. Typically, OMB can take anywhere between 30 to 90 days to review a proposal, or significantly longer as has been the case with more controversial rules sent from EPA. As EPA received 340,000 comments on its proposed rulemaking, a speedy review seems unlikely. Current speculation suggests modest increases, at best, are expected from OMB review and that the rule will be issued in final shortly after, or possibly before, the mid-term elections in November.
More information is available online. The current status of the 2014 RFS rulemaking at the OMB is available online.
The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) recently published a report describing EPA's actions delaying the final 2014 RFS rule, and the impact of the continuing delays on the RFS debate. A copy of that report is available online.
On August 20, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) sometime in September to help reduce the cost of algae biofuels and bioproducts. DOE explains in the announcement that the Agency's Bioenergy Technologies Office's (BETO) "2019 projected state of technology for the cost of algal biofuels is modeled at about $7 per gallon gasoline gallon equivalent, without valuable co-products such as animal feed or commodity chemicals. This FOA seeks to improve the value proposition for algal biofuels by employing multi-disciplinary consortia to produce algae bioproduct precursors (alongside fuel components), as well as single-investigator or small-team technology development projects focused on crop protection and CO2 utilization technologies for improving biomass productivity. BETO hopes these strategies will enable a 30-50% cost reduction for algal biofuels." The FOA will be available online. Currently, the formal notice of intent to issue this FOA is available via this link.
A copy of DOE's announcement is available online.
On August 20, 2014, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced a new NREL study demonstrating a potentially more economical way to use lignin to make renewable fuels and products. NREL states in the study that "[o]verall, this work demonstrates that the use of aromatic catabolic pathways enables an approach to valorize lignin by overcoming its inherent heterogeneity to produce fuels, chemicals, and materials."
A copy of the announcement is available online. A copy of the full study is available online.
On August 12, 2014, Virent announced that it has received fuel registration from EPA for its BioForm® gasoline in blends up to 45 percent. According to the company's press release, this registration means that the BioForm® gasoline may now be used in on-highway motor vehicles. The EPA testing work for the registration was funded by Virent's partner Royal Dutch Shell.
Virent's CEO Lee Edwards remarked in the company's press release on the announcement that "[s]ecuring EPA registration of our BioForm® Gasoline is further confirmation of Virent's high quality drop-in fuel and is another step towards commercializing our technology to produce renewable fuels and chemicals from biobased feedstocks."
A copy of Virent's press release is available online.
In an August 11, 2014, filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, cellulosic biofuel company KiOR, Inc. (KiOR) reported that without any new financial commitments, the Company only has enough funding to operate through September 2014. This announcement is significant for the biofuels industry, as EPA had relied on KiOR's projected volumes of available cellulosic biofuels to make up a significant part of the 2013 cellulosic renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the federal RFS. In addition, biofuels and RFS supporters have cited KiOR as a success story for continued support for the advanced and cellulosic RVOs under the RFS.
DOE will reportedly join the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) "Farm to Fly" initiative to help promote the development and use of sustainable aviation biofuels. Under the initiative, USDA, Boeing, and the Air Transport Association of America are working together to accelerate the availability of commercially viable and sustainable aviation biofuels in the United States to increase domestic energy security, establish regional supply chains, and support rural development. The initiative was renewed in 2013 for another five years. More information on the "Farm to Fly" program is available online.
On July 2, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Bioenergy Technology Office published in the Federal Register a "Request for Information (RFI) Regarding Integrated Biorefinery Lessons Learned and Best Practices."
According to the RFI, its purpose is "to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to lessons learned and best practices developed during the design, financing, construction, commissioning, startup, shakedown and operations of pilot-, demonstration-, and commercial-scale integrated biorefineries."
A copy of the RFI is available online. Comments are due by July 15, 2014.