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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 23, 2018, DOE announced that researchers at PNNL have developed a catalyst capable of converting ethanol directly into butadiene.  Butadiene is the building block for nearly every major synthetic plastic or rubber in the U.S, including tires, fuel hoses, and children’s toys.  The project, which is sponsored by BETO, aimed to generate butadiene from renewable sources by developing a new catalyst that can convert ethanol into butadiene.  The current ethanol-to-butadiene catalysts required pure ethanol, free of water, to be passed through multiple times to achieve a 70 percent yield.  The team of PNNL researchers has developed a silver nitrate powder and zirconyl nitrate-based catalyst capable of converting 70 percent of aqueous ethanol to butadiene in a single pass under industrially-relevant conditions.  According to Vanessa Dagle, it is the most active ethanol-to-butadiene catalyst reported to date and introduces the possibility of renewable ethanol as a source of butadiene in addition to petroleum.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

According to Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, Brazil is considering lifting the 20 percent tariff on ethanol imports from the U.S..  Demand for ethanol in Brazil has increased due to record-high gasoline prices.  As indicated in the BRAG blog post Grain, Ethanol Industry Send Letter To U.S. Trade Representative On Brazil Ethanol Tariff, U.S. ethanol producers would welcome the removal of the tariff and renewed access to Brazil, which is the largest destination for U.S. biofuel exports.  Minister Maggi indicated that the decision to remove the tariff would depend on the U.S. lifting the ban on fresh beef exports from Brazil.  In 2017, the U.S. banned fresh beef from Brazil following a food safety scandal and Brazil imposed a tax on ethanol from the U.S. following an increase in imports.  While speaking to reporters on January 16, 2018, Minister Maggi stated that “[t]here is, on the part of the United States, a big demand to withdraw [the ethanol tariff] and we also have this problem with beef. . . . Obviously one thing influences and contaminates the other.”  According to Minister Maggi, Brazil has addressed all U.S. requirements regarding the safety of its fresh beef and is awaiting the U.S.’s decision.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On November 29, 2017, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (Ministry) issued proposed amendments to the Ethanol in Gasoline regulation (O. Reg. 535/05) and the Greener Diesel -- Renewable Fuel Content Requirements for Petroleum Diesel Fuel (O. Reg. 97/14) under the Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.E.19.  Among the proposed changes is an increase from a 5 percent ethanol blending mandate to 10 percent starting in 2020; a requirement that ethanol sold for compliance to be 35 percent lower in greenhouse gases (GHG) than gasoline; and the application of existing incentives to a wider range of advanced biofuels.  According to the Ministry, the proposed amendments are intended to work with the expected federal Clean Fuels Standard (CFS), ensuring GHG reductions take place in Ontario and Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan goals are supported.  The Ministry stated that it is exploring options to support biofuel production and innovation through a Blenders Support Program (BSP) as well.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 14, 2017, Flint Hills Resources, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that construction is underway to install a new, bolt-on technology, known as Maximized Stillage Co-Products™ (MSC), at its ethanol plant in Fairmont, Nebraska.  The MSC technology will be used to convert a portion of the distiller grains, a coproduct of ethanol manufacturing, to a high protein animal and fish feed ingredient, known as NexPro™.  NexPro will be a combination of corn gluten (protein) and spent yeast with close to 50 percent protein and an improved amino acid profile, compared to traditional corn gluten meal.
 
The $50 million project, which involves the addition of a new building and two protein dryers, is expected to last 12 months.  The patented MSC technology was developed by Fluid Quip Process Technologies (FQPT) exclusively for dry mill ethanol plants to separate protein from the solids leftover after ethanol distillation.  Once isolated, the protein is dried into a high-quality meal.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 11, 2017, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) issued its June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).  EIA considered EPA’s recent rulemakings on the 2017 RFS volume requirements and proposed 2018 RFS volume requirements when developing its STEO for 2017 and 2018
 
Biodiesel production averaged 101,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2016, and, according to EIA, is expected to increase to an average of 105,000 b/d in 2017 and to 109,000 b/d in 2018.  Biomass-based diesel imports are expected to fall from 54,000 b/d in 2016 to 53,000 b/d in 2017 but rise to 59,000 b/d in 2018.
 
Ethanol production averaged 1.0 million b/d in 2016 and is expected to average slightly above 1.0 million b/d in 2017, which would be a record, but will likely decline slightly in 2018.  Ethanol consumption averaged about 940,000 b/d in 2016 and is forecast to increase slightly in 2017 and 2018.  As a result, the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool will increase to nearly 10.1% in both 2017 and 2018.  Only marginal increases in higher-level ethanol blends are assumed to occur during the STEO forecast period.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On March 29, 2017, the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) released a statement claiming that the Coordinating Research Council’s (CRC) study on fuel emissions was biased and flawed.  According to UAI, the match blending of test fuels in the study fails to recognize the performance of ethanol in real world fuels, including improving fuel quality and reducing toxic tailpipe emissions.  UAI stated that performing match blending in a lab using a custom test fuel rather than real world fuel discredits the study, and the inaccurate data would likely lead EPA to continue to limit the use of higher ethanol blends.  To encourage the development of more accurate information, UAI is working on a guidance document to assist researchers to better understand the changes in fuel properties when evaluating ethanol and emissions to ensure that lab test fuels match the fuels in use.


 

 
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