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EPA approves RFS pathway for sorghum oil as feedstock for bio-diesel or drop-in renewable fuels

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final notice determining biodiesel and heating oil produced from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process, would meet the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50% required for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

The analysis considered a scenario where distillers sorghum oil is recovered from distillers grains with solubles (DGS) at dry mill plants that produce biofuel from grain sorghum and where the remaining reduced-oil DGS co-product is used as animal feed. The distillers sorghum oil is then used as a feedstock for conversion into certain biofuels.

Based on this analysis, EPA is adding these pathways to the list of approved renewable fuel production pathways in the RFS regulations. EPA is also amending the RFS regulations by adding a new definition of “distillers sorghum oil,” and replacing existing references to “non-food grade corn oil” with the newly defined term “distillers corn oil.”

This is long over-due and very welcome news for the renewable fuels industry. Growth Energy, our member plants, and the National Sorghum Producers have been working side by side and pushing hard for this change for more than five years. We are thrilled to see our efforts become a reality for numerous ethanol producers using grain sorghum to produce ethanol, and for the opportunity to open up additional markets in a struggling agricultural economy.

—Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor

EPA received a petition from the National Sorghum Producers (NSP), submitted under partial claims of confidential business information (CBI), requesting that EPA evaluate the GHG emissions associated with biofuels produced using as a feedstock grain sorghum oil derived from dry mill ethanol production, and that EPA provide a determination of the renewable fuel categories, if any, for which such biofuels may be eligible.

EPA issued a proposed rule in December 2017 to establish approved pathways for the use of grain sorghum oil, and received comments on this proposal.

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