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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Study finds PM from biodiesel blends may be 50-80% less toxic per unit PM mass than from petroleum diesel

July 15, 2017

In a study published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, a team from the University of Vermont reports that particulate matter from the combustion of biodiesel blends may be 50–80% less toxic per unit PM mass emitted than PM from petroleum diesel, depending on feedstock.

There is growing consensus that PM toxicity is linked to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) on PM and the subsequent oxidative stress induced in cells. However, the relative toxicity of biodiesel emissions compared to petroleum diesel remains unclear. In the study, the team examined the relationships between biodiesel fuel blend, exhaust particle oxidative potential (OP), and PM composition.

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EPA proposes slight ease in 2018 renewable fuel volumes compared to 2017; gearing up for future reset

July 06, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule setting the minimum amount of renewable fuels that must be supplied to the market in calendar year 2018 under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program. EPA will issue the final rule in the fall.

Relative to the levels finalized in 2017, the proposed 2018 volume requirements for advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel are lower by 40 million gallons. For the first time, EPA is proposing to reduce the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes for 2018 by the same amount as it would reduce the required volume of cellulosic biofuel. In the proposal, EPA said that these reductions effectively preserve the implied statutory volumes for conventional renewable fuel and non-cellulosic advanced biofuels, rather than requiring additional volumes of non-cellulosic advanced biofuels to backfill for some of the shortfall in cellulosic biofuel, as EPA has done in previous years.

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Taiwan team engineers E. coli to produce n-butanol from glycerol

July 05, 2017

Researchers at Feng Chia University in Taiwan have engineered the bacterium Escherichia coli to produce n-butanol from crude glycerol—a byproduct of the production of biodiesel.

In an open-access paper in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels, they report that under microaerobic conditions, the engineered strain produced 6.9 g/L n-butanol from 20 g/L crude glycerol. The conversion yield and the productivity reached 87% of the theoretical yield and 0.18 g/L/h, respectively. Overall, the team concluded, the technology platform may be useful for the economic viability of glycerol-related industries.

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Shell acquires exclusive development and licensing rights for SBI Bioenergy drop-in biofuels technology

June 28, 2017

Royal Dutch Shell plc, through its subsidiary Shell International Exploration and Production B.V, and SBI Bioenergy Inc. have reached an agreement granting Shell exclusive development and licensing rights for SBI’s biofuel technology. Canada-based SBI has a patented process that can convert a wide range of waste oils, greases and sustainable vegetable oils into lower carbon drop-ins for diesel, jet fuel and gasoline.

Under the agreement, Shell and SBI will work together to demonstrate the potential of the technology and, if successful, scale up for commercial application.

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German researchers develop method to produce diesel-like fuel from biodiesel

June 19, 2017

Researchers from the universities of Kaiserslautern, Bochum, and Rostock have developed a method for producing a petroleum diesel-like fuel from conventional biodiesel (rapeseed oil methyl ester, RME).

Catalyzed by a Pd/Ru system, RME undergoes isomerizing metathesis in a stream of ethylene gas, leading to a defined olefin, monoester, and diester blend. This innovative refining concept requires negligible energy input (60 °C) and no solvents and does not produce waste. The new biofuel fulfills the current EU and US requirements, and can be used undiluted in modern diesel engines or mixed in any ratio with petroleum diesel. The researchers present their work in an open access paper in Science Advances.

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Scientists engineer sugarcane to produce lipids for biodiesel, more sugar for ethanol; ARPA-E project PETROSS

April 06, 2017

A multi-institutional team led by the University of Illinois has genetically engineered sugarcane to produce lipids in its leaves and stems for biodiesel production (lipid-cane). Surprisingly, the modified sugarcane plants also produced more sugar, which could be used for ethanol production.

The dual-purpose bioenergy crops are predicted to be more than five times more profitable per acre than soybeans and two times more profitable than corn. More importantly, sugarcane can be grown on marginal land in the Gulf Coast region that does not support good corn or soybean yields. A paper describing the work is published in the journal Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology.

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BIOX working with Forge Hydrocarbons to co-locate renewable diesel facility at Sombra site

March 17, 2017

BIOX Corporation, a renewable energy company that owns and operates biodiesel production facilities, is working with Forge Hydrocarbons (earlier post) to explore the co-location of a renewable diesel production facility using Forge technology on the existing BIOX site in Sombra, Ontario.

BIOX acquired a 50-million-liter (13.2-million-gallon) nameplate capacity biodiesel production facility at the Sombra site, together with 25 acres of land, in June 2016. The biodiesel facility is currently undergoing upgrades and BIOX expects to commission the facility in time to capture a portion of the Ontario biodiesel blending season during the third quarter of calendar 2017.

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Lux Research forecasts global biofuels output to rise to 67B GPY in 2022; advanced biofuels will nearly double to 9.6B GPY

February 14, 2017

New biofuel technology is finally starting to push aside traditional biofuels such as first-generation biodiesel, according to a new report by Lux Research. New facilities based on non-food feedstocks and producing novel fuels account for over half of new capacity deployment for the first time in the biofuel industry’s history, according to Lux. However, overall output will grow at a slower pace to 67 billion gallons a year (BGY) in 2022, from 59 BGY in 2016.

The report, titled “Biofuels Outlook 2022: The Dawn of a New Era in Global Biofuel Capacity Expansion,” is part of the Lux Research Alternative Fuels Intelligence service. Lux Research analysts quantified the commercial deployment of new technologies in the global biofuels industry using a database of nearly 2,000 facilities from 1,461 companies in 90 countries with nameplate capacity data through 2022. Among their findings:

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MIT team engineers yeast to boost lipid production for biofuels

January 20, 2017

MIT engineers have genetically engineered strains of the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica to boost the production of lipids by about 25% compared to previously engineered yeast strains. Their approach could enable commercialization of microbial carbohydrate-based lipid production, supporting the renewable production of high-energy fuels such as diesel.

A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Biotechnology; the MIT team, led by Gregory Stephanopoulos, the Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at MIT, is now working on additional improvements to the lipids yield.

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GM expands B20 biodiesel lineup with new cars, crossovers and trucks

January 18, 2017

General Motors is expanding its portfolio of B20-capable vehicles to include cars and crossovers, and will field the industry’s most expansive lineup of diesel-powered vehicles in 2017, John Schwegman, director of commercial product and medium duty for GM Fleet, announced at the National Biodiesel Conference.

Chevrolet offers the industry’s broadest lineup of B20-capable diesel propulsion for fleet, commercial and retail customers, including: Express full-size vans; Silverado HD full-size pickups; the Colorado mid-size pickup; the Low Cab Forward commercial truck; the 2017 Cruze compact car and the 2018 Equinox compact crossover.

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EPA finalizes increase in renewable fuel volumes for 2017; 6% total increase to 19.28B gallons

November 23, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized increases in renewable fuel volume requirements across all categories of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. In a required annual rulemaking, the action finalizes the volume requirements and associated percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for 2017, and for biomass-based diesel for 2018.

The final volumes represent continued growth over historic levels. The final standards meet or exceed the volume targets specified by Congress for total renewable fuel, biomass-based diesel, and advanced biofuel. Total renewable fuel volumes grow 6% (1.2 billion gallons) from 2016 to 2017 to 19.28 billion gallons.

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Chevrolet and GMC expand alternative fuel fleet offerings; expanded CNG/LPG lineup

November 22, 2016

Chevrolet and GMC are partnering with Power Solutions International, Inc. (PSI) to introduce heavy-duty pickups and full-size vans powered by 6.0-liter V-8 compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-capable engines starting in the first quarter of 2017. Chevrolet also will offer CNG and LPG versions of its new Low Cab Forward commercial truck.

The announcement follows the selection of PSI, based in Wood Dale, Illinois, as General Motors Fleet’s preferred upfitter for CNG and LPG trucks. PSI is one of North America’s largest and most experienced providers of integrated turn-key, alternative-fuel powertrain solutions.

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EPA proposing updates to Renewable Fuel Standard

October 05, 2016

EPA is proposing updates to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) regulations and related fuels regulations to better align the standards with the current state of the renewable fuels market and to promote the use of ethanol and non-ethanol biofuels.

Several of the proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard program would align regulations with recent developments in the marketplace resulting in increased production of cellulosic, advanced and other biofuels, EPA said.

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U-M study finds crop-based biofuels associated with net increase in GHGs; falsifying the assumption of inherent carbon neutrality

August 25, 2016

A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the assumption that crop-based biofuels such as corn ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon-neutral—i.e., that only production-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be tallied when comparing them to fossil fuels.

In an open-access paper published in the journal Climatic Change, the researchers conclude that once estimates from the literature for process emissions and displacement effects including land-use change are considered, US biofuel use to date is associated with a net increase rather than a net decrease in CO2 emissions.

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