EPA approves Algenol ethanol as RFS advanced biofuel with D5 code; 69% reduction in GHG compared to gasoline
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved ethanol made from Algenol’s process as an advanced biofuel, meeting the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Algenol’s ethanol, produced by photosynthetic cyanobacteria, is now eligible for a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) under the D5 classification. (Earlier post.)
As part of this approval, the EPA determined that ethanol produced from the Algenol Direct to Ethanol (DTE) process resulted in an approximate 69% reduction in greenhouse gases when compared to gasoline.
In the Algenol DTE process, ethanol is produced from photosynthetically-produced pyruvate, and secreted by the cyanobacteria into the surrounding aqueous media. It is then isolated and purified for use as a transportation fuel. The algal biomass is processed to extract and produce a bio-oil co-product; spent biomass is gasified to produce bio-methane that is used onsite in a combined heat and powerunit.
The algal bio-oil can be used to produce biodiesel, renewable diesel, or other bio-oil derived products. (Because the algal bio-oil to biodiesel/renewable diesel pathways already exists as a qualifying pathway under RFS regulations, EPA focused only on the cyanobacteria to ethanol process in this ruling.)
RINs are numerical codes created with every gallon of biofuel domestically produced or imported into the US. RINs play the dual role of a renewable fuel credit to incentivize renewable fuel use, and a tracking mechanism to monitor the production, movement and blending of biofuels. The D-code (D#) of a RIN identifies the renewable fuel standard category for a particular fuel based on its projected greenhouse gas reduction requirement.
EPA currently has five RIN D-codes (D3, D4, D5, D6 and D7). D3 and D7 are for cellulosic biofuels with a GHG reduction requirement of 60%; D6 is for corn ethanol (GHG reduction 20%); D4 is for biomass-based diesel (50% GHG reduction); and D5 is for advanced biofuels, including sugarcane ethanol and biogas (50% GHG reduction).
The EPA approval is a milestone event for Algenol. The EPA validates that our suite of fuels meet the GHG reduction requirements set by the EPA for advanced biofuels and allows blenders and refiners to use our fuels to meet their Clean Air Act obligations under the RFS.
The RINs ascribe both GHG reduction value and real economic value to Algenol’s fuel, but the true game changing part originates from paying for CO2 emissions by converting them into valuable, low cost transportation fuels. Just imagine how refreshing the carbon dialogue would sound if CO2 emissions become a corporate asset rather than a liability.—Paul Woods, Founder and CEO of Algenol
Algenol says that its patented technology enables the production of the four most important fuels (ethanol, gasoline, jet, and diesel fuel) for around $1.30 per gallon each using proprietary algae, sunlight, carbon dioxide and saltwater at production levels of 8,000 total gallons of liquid fuel per acre per year.