By Lynn L. Bergeson
On May 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it was seeking nominations for candidates to fill vacancies on the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee (Committee). The Federal Register notice states that:
The committee members may serve two, three-year terms and committee membership must include: (A) An individual affiliated with the biofuels industry; (B) an individual affiliated with the biobased industrial and commercial products industry; (C) an individual affiliated with an institution of higher education that has expertise in biofuels and biobased products; (D) 2 prominent engineers or scientists from government (non-federal) or academia that have expertise in biofuels and biobased products; (E) an individual affiliated with a commodity trade association; (F) 2 individuals affiliated with environmental or conservation organizations; (G) an individual associated with state government who has expertise in biofuels and biobased products; (H) an individual with expertise in energy and environmental analysis; (I) an individual with expertise in the economics of biofuels and biobased products; (J) an individual with expertise in agricultural economics; (K) an individual with expertise in plant biology and biomass feedstock development; (L) an individual with expertise in agronomy, crop science, or soil science; and (M) at the option of the points of contact, other members.
Further, nominations this year are needed for the following categories: “(I) An individual with expertise in the economics of biofuels and biobased products; (H) an individual with expertise in energy and environmental analysis; and (J) an individual with expertise in agricultural economics.” The deadline for nominations is June 30, 2018.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On March 29, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a Federal Register notice it is seeking public comment on the use of isobutanol in gasoline. EPA specifically seeks comment on issues to consider regarding an application submitted by Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC (Butamax), a manufacturer of isobutanol, pursuant to the regulations titled “Registration of Fuels and Fuel Additives” for the registration of isobutanol as a gasoline additive at up to 16 volume percent, and any supplemental actions EPA should consider under the Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA states that Butamax’s information would likely satisfy the applicable registration requirements, and, due to the likelihood of this registration, there is potential for the widespread introduction of isobutanol into commerce. Further information on biobutanol, the common name for isobutanol made from renewable sources, is available in the Federal Register notice. Comments are due by April 30, 2018.
On March 19, 2017, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the sixth edition of its specifications for marine fuels (ISO 8217:2017), which includes a redefined “class F” grade for biofuel blends in marine distillates. Up to seven percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), which has similar physical properties to conventional diesel, is permitted in the new “F” grades, specifically DFA, DFZ, and DFB. Additionally, the DMA specifications have been amended to permit 0.4 higher weight percent biodiesel, compared to the suggested level in the previous iteration of the standard. Substantial amendments were also made to the scope and other general requirements. The full specifications are available for purchase on the ISO website.
On October 12, 2016, EPA convened a public advisory committee teleconference of the Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel. This advisory meeting discussed comments from chartered Science Advisory Board (SAB) members from the draft report on EPA’s Framework for Assessing Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources. The SAB panel announced plans to overhaul the current draft report to provide emission examples at various time scales. This change, to include longer time spans, is supported by industry professionals who believe it better represents the full carbon sequestration benefits created through regrowth of biomass. Inside EPA (subscription required) quoted the Environmental Defense Fund’s Steven Hamburg, noting that the SAB should “make clear the implications of picking different time horizons, as opposed to a priori picking a time horizon.” There is not yet a schedule for when the next draft report will be released for review by the full SAB.
On June 17, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an open teleconference of the State Energy Advisory Board (STEAB) in the Federal Register. STEAB advises DOE and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) on the operation of its energy efficiency programs, renewable energy programs, and grant programs for research and deployment in energy efficiency and renewable energy fields. The tentative agenda includes:
"Receive STEAB Task Force updates on action items and revised objectives for FY 2016, discuss follow-up opportunities and engagement with EERE and other DOE staff as needed to keep Task Force work moving forward, continue engagement with DOE, EERE and EPSA staff regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and initiatives, and receive updates on member activities within their states. Recap June meeting and follow-up on action items from that meeting."
Designated Federal Officer for the Committee
U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Mail Stop EE-3B
1000 Independence Avenue. S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585
On April 28, 2016, Neste Renewable, a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, announced that its renewable isoalkane would be used in Avantherm's renewable Heat Transfer Media products. Avantherm will be using the isoalkane to produce new sustainable and high-performance renewable products, including a coolant that can replace glycol. Neste Renewable Isoalkane is chemically comparable to traditional isoalkane, but preforms better and has a lower environmental impact than the traditional product. Neste is able to produce Neste Renewable Isoalkane utilizing the company's proprietary NEXBTL technology at its refineries in Singapore, The Netherlands, and Finland.
On August 14, 2015, the Department of Energy's (DOE) BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) announced the creation of a microbe that increases isobutanol yields by a factor of ten. The study, published in Metabolic Engineering, expanded upon a 2011 study where researchers were able to engineer genetically a microbe to produce isobutanol directly from cellulose. The new study used a higher yielding microbe with similar engineered traits, resulting in consolidated bioprocessing efficiency. This progress towards the commercialization of biobased isobutanol is important because its energy density and octane values are close to those of gasoline, allowing it to be used as either a direct replacement for gasoline or a chemical feedstock for a wide range of products.