The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently approved several new renewable fuel pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard program. Newly-accepted fuel pathways include camelina oil, energy cane cellulosic biomass, and—under specific conditions—renewable gasoline and renewable gasoline blendstock.

The EPA has classified both camelina oil and energy cane cellulosic biomass as new renewable fuel feedstocks. According to the EPA’s new standards, when camelina oil is used to produce biodiesel or renewable diesel, it qualifies as “Biomass-Based Diesel” and “Advanced Biofuel.” When used to produce naphtha or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the oil qualifies as “Advanced Biofuel.”

The RFS requires a 50-percent greenhouse-gas emissions reduction in order to qualify as “Biomass-Based Diesel” or “Advanced Biofuel.” Assessing whether a fuel pathway meets that threshold requires a comprehensive evaluation of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of the renewable fuel as compared to the lifecycle emissions of the gasoline or diesel fuel that it replaces. Already, a handful of biodiesel feedstocks, such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, and animal fats qualify as “advanced” under the program.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) recently released an official statement on the expanded renewable fuel feedstock options.
“This decision adds to the growing list of biodiesel feedstocks that meet the EPA’s standards for Advanced Biofuel and gives us yet another option for producing sustainable, domestic biodiesel that displaces imported oil,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is important for our energy security, for our economy and for addressing climate change, and we thank the EPA for conducting a thorough and fair review.”

BiOmega3_Camelina_Photo

Shown here is a tractor harvesting camelina, recently approved by the EPA as a renewable fuel pathway feedstock. Credit: BiOmega3, LLC.

This final rule describes EPA’s analysis and determinations for the following new fuels pathways:

Camelina oil (new feedstock)
Biodiesel and renewable diesel (including jet fuel and heating oil) – qualifying as biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuel
Naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas( LPG) – qualifying as advanced biofuel

Energy cane cellulosic biomass (new feedstock)
Ethanol, renewable diesel (including renewable jet fuel and heating oil), and naphtha – qualifying as cellulosic biofuel

Renewable gasoline and renewable gasoline blendstock (new fuel types)
Produces from crop residue, slash, pre-commercial thinning, tree residue, annual cover crops, and cellulosic components of separated yard wasted, separated food waste, and separated municipal solid waste (MSW)
Using the following processes – all utilizing natural gas, biogas, and/or biomass as the only process energy sources – qualifying as cellulosic biofuel:


  • Thermochemical pyrolysis
  • Thermochemical gasification
  • Biochemical direct fermentation
  • Biochemical fermentation with catalytic upgrading
  • Any other process that uses biogas and/or biomass as the only process energy sources

The EPA is continuing to research the feasibility of including biofuels produced from giant reed (Arundo donax) and napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) as advanced biofuels. In addition, the EPA is continuing research on biodiesel produced from the process of esterfication.

The EPA’s final rule will be effective beginning on May 6, 2013.

To access the full report, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm.




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