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EPA proposing RFS pathways for biofuels made from canola oil via hydrotreating; diesel, jet, naphtha, LPG, heating oil

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) pathways for certain biofuels that are produced from canola/rapeseed oil (earlier post) and is providing an opportunity for comment on the Agency’s lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis of these pathways.

With the approval, these fuel pathways would be eligible to generate Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), provided they satisfy the other definitional and RIN generation criteria for renewable fuel specified in the RFS regulations.

Only fuels produced using pathways that EPA has approved as meeting all applicable requirements are eligible to generate RINs. There are three critical components of fuel pathways under the RFS program:

  1. fuel type;
  2. feedstock; and
  3. production process.

Each approved pathway is associated with a specific “D code” corresponding to whether the fuel meets the requirements for renewable fuel, advanced fuel, cellulosic fuel, or biomass-based diesel.

EPA’s new assessment for canola oil-based fuels considers diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas produced from canola/rapeseed oil via a hydrotreating process and proposes to find that these pathways would meet the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50% required to qualify to generate RINs for advanced biofuels (D5) and biomass-based diesel (D4) under the RFS program.

More specifically, EPA estimated that:

  • Lifecycle GHG emissions associated with the production of renewable diesel via a hydrotreating process are approximately 63 to 69 percent less than the applicable diesel baseline.

  • The naphtha and LPG co-produced with the renewable diesel has similar reductions of 64 to 69 percent and 63 to 69 percent compared to baseline GHG emissions, respectively.

  • Jet fuel produced from canola oil through a hydrotreating process configured to maximize jet fuel output has lifecycle GHG emissions approximately 59 to 67 percent lower than baseline emissions.

These ranges of GHG emissions estimates are based on differences in hydrotreating process configurations.

In September 2010, EPA determined that canola oil biodiesel meets the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50%, and made canola oil biodiesel produced through a transesterification process eligible for biomass-based diesel (D-code 4) RINs. This final rule did not include determinations for renewable diesel, jet fuel, naphtha, LPG, or heating oil produced from canola oil via a hydrotreating process.


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