DOE awards $10.6M to ROGUE to engineer energycane, Miscanthus to produce oil for biodiesel, biojet fuel

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the University of Illinois a $10.6-million, five-year grant to transform two of the most productive crops in the US into sustainable sources of biodiesel and biojet fuel. The new research project Renewable Oil Generated with Ultra-productive Energycane (ROGUE) kicked off on 25... Read more →

European Parliament endorses proposal for 12% share of energy from renewable energy in transport by 2030; 10% advanced biofuels

The European Parliament last week endorsed a series of proposals setting targets for cleaner, more efficient energy use. Among those was a proposal for a binding EU-level target of a 12% share of energy from renewable sources in transport, by 2030. Members of Parliament also endorsed setting a 35% improvement... Read more →

China Lake team devises new class of bio-based high-cetane renewable diesel fuels: dioxolanes

Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake have synthesized a new class of renewable diesel fuels from a methyl ketone and diols including 2,3-butanediol, 1,2-propanediol, and ethylene glycol. These fuels exhibit comparable net heats of combustion (NHOCs) to conventional biodiesel, while maintaining derived cetane numbers between 82-91. These... Read more →

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group report progress in cellulosic biodiesel research

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG) announced that by utilizing REG’s patented fermentation technology, the companies’ joint research program has demonstrated the ability to convert sugars from a variety of non-edible biomass sources into biodiesel. (Earlier post.) During their initial research, the companies successfully validated the feasibility of the REG... Read more →

EPA issues NODA concerning potential further reductions in RFS volume requirements

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) to provide public notice and an opportunity to comment on potential reductions in the 2018 biomass-based diesel (BBD), advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes, and/or the 2019 biomass-based diesel volume under the Renewable Fuel Standard... Read more →

ORNL-led team uses carbon material derived from tire waste to convert used cooking oil to biofuel

Using a novel, reusable carbon material derived from old rubber tires, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)-led research team has developed a simple method to convert used cooking oil into biofuel. The team’s approach combines modified, recovered carbon with sulfuric acids, which is then mixed with free fatty acids in... Read more →

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... Read more →

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

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... Read more →

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

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... Read more →

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... Read more →

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... Read more →

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

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... Read more →

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

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... Read more →

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,... Read more →

MIT team engineers yeast to boost lipid production for biofuels

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... Read more →

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

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... Read more →

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... Read more →

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

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... Read more →

EPA proposing updates to Renewable Fuel Standard

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... Read more →

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

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,... Read more →

A techno-economic analysis by a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has determined that biodiesel produced from oil from genetically modified lipid-producing sugarcane (lipid-cane) is much more economical than biodiesel produced from soybean oil. In their open-access paper, published in... Read more →

EPA nudges up volume of renewable fuel in final requirements for 2014-2016 under RFS

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program today for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017. This rule finalizes higher volumes of renewable fuel than the levels EPA proposed... Read more →

EPA: jatropha-based biofuels could qualify as biomass-based diesel or advanced biodiesel under RFS

Based on its analysis of the production and transport components of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of biofuel made from jatropha oil, the US EPA anticipates that biofuels produced from jatropha oil could qualify as biomass-based diesel or advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard program if typical fuel production... Read more →

The European NEMESIS 2+ consortium has and successfully tested a pre-commercial on-site system for the production of hydrogen from diesel and biodiesel. The prototype system—the size of a shipping container—can be integrated into existing infrastructure with relative ease. The prototype, built by the Dutch project partner HyGear, produces 4.4 kilograms... Read more →

The global biofuels industry averaged 68% in utilization rate from 2005 to 2014, reached a high of 80.9% in 2007, dropped to a low of 56.9% in 2012, and climbed slightly back to 60.4% in 2014. Despite the still apparent softness in capacity utilization, and the on-going softness in fossil... Read more →

Over its 10-year lifespan, the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS’) requirement to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced US transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). To develop... Read more →

Lipid-derived biofuels have been proposed as a promising substitute for fossil fuels. The oleaginous ascomycete (sac fungus) yeast Yarrowia lipolytica accumulates large amounts of lipids and has potential as a biofuel producing organism; however, little is known about the key biological processes involved. To address this gap in knowledge, a... Read more →

Japan-based global automotive supplier DENSO Corporation will build a large 20,000 square meter test facility for the culture of Pseudochoricystis ellipsoidea, an oil-producing microalga patented by DENSO. The new facility located in Amakusa, Kumamoto, Japan will be used to perform verification tests needed to establish large-scale microalga cultivation technologies required... Read more →

Researchers at Kansas State University led by Professor Timothy Durrett and their colleagues at Michigan State University and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln have engineered Camelina sativa—a non-food oilseed crop—to produce high levels (up to 85 mol%) of acetyl-triacylglycerols (acetyl-TAGs, or ac-TAGs)—a novel plant oil lipid with possible biofuel or... Read more →

EPA proposes volume requirements for Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014-2016

Adhering to a schedule in a proposed consent decree (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited proposed volume requirements (renewable volume obligations, RVO) (earlier post) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based... Read more →

Lund researchers develop optimized two-phase enzymatic process for production of biodiesel

Researchers at Lund University (Sweden) have developed an optimized two-phase enzymatic (lipase) system for the conversion of plant oils to biodiesel. Applied to the solvent-free ethanolysis of rapeseed oil, the system delivered a yield of 96% under mild conditions. Under the mild conditions used, chemical catalysts were inefficient. An open... Read more →

California ARB issues feedstock-only pathway for camelina-based fuels under LCFS; zero ILUC emissions results in very low CI fuels

The California Air Resources Board has issued Sustainable Oils Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Clean Energy Holdings, a feedstock-only pathway for the production of camelina-based fuels under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The feedstock-only CI (carbon intensity) is 7.58 gCO2e/MJ. A feedstock-only pathway allows a fuel producer... Read more →

Novozymes has launched Eversa Transform, the first commercially available enzymatic solution (a liquid lipase) to convert both glycerides and free fatty acids (FFA) into biodiesel. Biodiesel producers can thereby use cooking oil or other lower grade oils as biodiesel feedstock, reducing their raw material costs. The resulting enzymatic biodiesel is... Read more →

EPA delays issuing 2014 RVO standards for RFS until sometime in 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not finalize the 2014 applicable percentage standards (the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations, RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program until sometime next year. In a notice to be published in the Federal Register, the agency said that it intends to take action... Read more →

Substituting biofuels for marginal fossil-based liquid fuels results in the avoidance of significant GHG emissions that are not currently accounted for in the European Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), according to a new analysis by the consultancy Ecofys. The study was commissioned by the European Oilseed Alliance (EOA), the European Biodiesel... Read more →

Study shows biodiesel blends in buses reduce PM, other harmful exhaust elements, EC and CO

A new study on the combustion properties of biodiesel for use in urban transit buses found that using biodiesel can effectively reduce the mass of particulate matter released in both hot and cold idle modes. The study, published by the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC), observed a reduction in... Read more →

Illustrative impact of the fuel roadmap. Source: LowCVP, Element Energy. Click to enlarge. The UK’s LowCVP has published twin reports which set out how the UK could meet its 2020 targets defined in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, and proceed on a pathway to decarbonize road transport fuel in the... Read more →

The MEC uses syntrophic cooperation within a bacterial consortium (red and green) in the anode chamber to ferment ethanol from glycerol and to remove inhibiting H2. Credit: ACS, Speers et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) which will allow biodiesel... Read more →

Monthly US biodiesel and renewable diesel imports. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge. Total US imports of biomass-based diesel fuel—biodiesel and renewable diesel—reached 525 million gallons in 2013, compared to 61 million gallons in 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). As a result, the United States switched from... Read more →

ARB posts 5 new LCFS pathways; two renewable diesel

California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted five new and one revised Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications to the LCFS public comment website. The new pathways include two renewable diesel pathways; two biodiesel pathways, and one corn ethanol pathway. The revised package is for corn oil... Read more →

World ethanol and biodiesel production. Source: Worldwatch. Click to enlarge. In 2012, the combined global production of ethanol and biodiesel fell for the first time since 2000, down 0.4% from the figure in 2011, according to the Worldwatch Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online report. Global ethanol production declined slightly for... Read more →

Scania 16-liter V8 580 hp Euro 6 engine with EGR and SCR is available in a 100% biodiesel version. Click to enlarge. Scania is adding another alternative to its engine lineup with a 100% biodiesel (EN 14214) configuration of a 16-liter, 580 hp (433 kW) V8 engine in the R-series.... Read more →

A team led by researchers at the University of Cordoba (Spain) have used a CaO alkaline heterogeneous catalyst to produce what they call a “second-generation biodiesel” blend composed of 2:1 molar mixture of conventional fatty acid methyl esters (FAME, or regular biodiesel) and monoglyceride (MG). The process integrates glycerol—the conventional... Read more →

Navigant Research forecasts 58% growth in global biofuels consumption by 2022; biodiesel and drop-in fuels gain market share

In a new report, “Biofuels for Transportation Markets”, Navigant Research forecasts that global demand for biofuels in the road transportation sector will grow from representing almost 6% of the liquid fuels market in 2013 to roughly 8% by 2022. Of that 8%, 8% will consist of advanced drop-in fuels, according... Read more →

Renewable Energy Group acquires drop-in renewable fuels company LS9 for up to $61.5 million

Biodiesel producer Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG) has acquired LS9, Inc., a synthetic biology company developing fermentation-derived drop-in renewable fuels and chemicals (earlier post), for a purchase price of up to $61.5 million, consisting of up front and earnout payments, in stock and cash. Most of the LS9 team, including... Read more →

Torque and power curves for the 490 hp biodiesel engine. Click to enlarge. Scania is introducing two Euro 6-certified, 13-liter truck engines that can run on any diesel blend, right up to 100% biodiesel (EN 14214). The versions certified for biodiesel operation are the modular, six-cylinder, 13-liter 450 and 490... Read more →

JAMA cites the poor oxidation stability of high-level biodiesel blends, highlighted in the JATOP findings, in sticking with B5 levels. PME= palm oil methyl ester, RME = rapeseed methyl ester, SME = soy methyl ester, WME = waste cooking oil methyl ester, FTD = Fischer-Tropsch diesel, HBD = hydrogenated biodiesel.... Read more →

U Texas at Austin researchers rewire yeast for high lipid generation; 60x improvement over parent strains

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering have rewired the native metabolism of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica for superior production of lipids (lipogenesis). Tri-level metabolic control resulted in saturated cells containing upwards of 90% lipid content and titres exceeding 25 g l−1 lipids—a 60-fold improvement over parental... Read more →

ARB posts six new LCFS pathway applications for comment; new PFAD biodiesel approach

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted six new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) pathway applications to the LCFS public comment web site: corn ethanol; molasses ethanol (from Brazil); palm fatty acid distillates (PFAD) to biodiesel; and landfill gas to LNG, L-CNG, and CNG. The LCFS requires oil... Read more →

Converting glycerol from biodiesel production into bio-gasoline

A team at the University of Idaho has demonstrated that glycerol, a byproduct from biodiesel production, could be used as a substrate for producing drop-in gasoline-range biofuel. In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, Guanqun Luo and Armando G. McDonald describe their study of converting methanol... Read more →