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.
As a reminder, DOE is looking for additional biobased stakeholders to join the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The deadline for nominations is this Friday, August 14, 2015.
Butamax™ Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture between BP PLC and DuPont, announced that it has broken ground on a plant to produce isobutanol, a renewable fuel that EPA has determined can qualify for credit under the federal RFS. Butamax is working to retrofit Highwater Ethanol LLC, an existing ethanol plant located in Lamberton, Minnesota.
The announcement is significant because Butamax has been in ongoing litigation with the other U.S. isobutanol producer, Gevo. Also, isobutanol may be one potential solution to the blend wall.
A copy of Butamax's press release on the groundbreaking is available online.