Tesoro to Produce Biocrude from Biomass

tesoroPetroleum refiner Tesoro Corporation plans to develop biocrude made from renewable biomass. This news release from the Texas-based company says the biocrude can be co-processed in its existing refineries, along with traditional crude oil.

Converting renewable biomass into biocrude is expected to enable existing refining assets to produce less carbon-intensive fuels at a significantly lower capital and operating cost than competing technologies. This approach could lower Tesoro’s compliance costs with the federal renewable fuel standard and California’s low carbon fuel standard by generating credits, while producing less carbon-intensive fuels which are fully compatible with the nation’s existing fuel infrastructure as well as current vehicle fleet warranties.

In order to support the development of biocrude, Tesoro is working collaboratively with several renewable energy companies to advance biomass-to-fuels technology, including:

– Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc.: Fulcrum plans to supply biocrude produced from municipal solid waste to Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC (“TRMC”) to process as a feedstock at its Martinez, California Refinery. An estimated 800 barrels of biocrude per day will be produced at Fulcrum’s Sierra BioFuels Plant in Reno, Nevada, which is expected to be operational in early 2018.

– Virent, Inc.: Tesoro and Virent are working to establish a strategic relationship to support scale-up and commercialization of Virent’s BioForming technology which produces low-carbon, biofuel and chemicals.

– Ensyn Corporation: Ensyn has applied for a pathway with the California Air Resources Board to co-process its biocrude, produced from tree residue – called Renewable Fuel Oil(TM) – in TRMC’s California refineries.

“We’ve established relationships such as those with Fulcrum, Virent, and Ensyn, to progress technologies which would enable our existing fuel manufacturing infrastructure to help meet the demand for low-carbon, advanced biofuels. Working with these companies, Tesoro seeks to create shared value that will benefit our communities, consumers and the environment, while allowing us to supply biofuels at a competitive price,” says CJ Warner, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Tesoro.

Dupont, ADM Make Long Sought-After Biochemical

dupont_admDuPont Industrial Biosciences and ADM have teamed up to develop a process to make a long sought-after molecule important for renewable biochemicals. This news release from DuPont says the technology has applications in packaging, textiles, engineering plastics and many other industries.

The companies have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose. FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the U.S. Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications. It has long been sought-after and researched, but has not yet been available at commercial scale and at reasonable cost. The new FDME technology is a more efficient and simple process than traditional conversion approaches and results in higher yields, lower energy usage and lower capital expenditures.

This partnership brings together ADM’s world-leading expertise in fructose production, and carbohydrate chemistry with DuPont’s biotechnology, chemistry, materials and applications expertise, all backed by a strong joint intellectual-property portfolio.

“This molecule is a game-changing platform technology. It will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 100 percent renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries,” said Simon Herriot, global business director for biomaterials at DuPont. “ADM is an agribusiness powerhouse with strong technology development capabilities. They are the ideal partner with which to develop this new, renewable supply chain for FDME.”

One of the first polymers under development utilizing FDME is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a novel polyester also made from DuPont’s proprietary Bio-PDO™ (1,3-propanediol). PTF is a 100-percent renewable and recyclable polymer that, when used to make bottles and other beverage packages, substantially improves gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters. This makes PTF a great choice for customers in the beverage packaging industry looking to improve the shelf life of their products.

“We are excited about the potential FDME has to help our customers reach new markets and develop better-performing products, all made from sustainable, bio-based starting materials,” said Kevin Moore, president, renewable chemicals at ADM. “With their strong leadership in the biomaterials industry, DuPont is a great partner that can help us bring this product to market for our customers.”

The two companies plan to build an integrated 60 ton-per-year demonstration plant in Decatur, Illinois, which will provide potential customers with sufficient product quantities for testing and research.

Italian Company Debuts ‘Better Than Biodiesel’ Fuel

eni2An Italian company is the first in the world to turn an oil refinery into a biofuel plant. This news release from energy company Eni says it has rolled out Eni Diesel + at more than 3,500 fuel stations all over Italy.

Using the Ecofining™ technology it owns (developed in 2006 in the San Donato Milanese laboratories, in cooperation with Honeywell UOP), Eni transforms plant oils into a complete hydrocarbon product that overcomes the qualitative problems of traditional biodiesel…

The numerous tests performed in the Eni research laboratories have shown that, compared to standard diesels comprising of 5% biodiesel, Eni Diesel + extends the life of car motors, ensures the highest power output thanks to clean injectors, improves motor performance reducing consumption by up to 4%, helps with cold starts and ensures motor noise reduction thanks to the high cetane number.

The product’s innovation impact is just as significant in environmental terms: Eni Diesel + has a more sustainable production cycle and so contributes to reducing CO2 emissions by 5% on average. Tests performed on Euro 5 vehicles in the Centro Ricerche Eni [research centre] in San Donato Milanese and the Istituto Motori del CNR [Motor Institute of the National Research Council] in Naples showed a significant reduction in polluting emissions (unburned hydrocarbons and carbon oxide reduced by up to 40 %, up to 20% less particulate matter).

Eni says as a promotion, the new Eni Diesel + is available at the same price of the premium Eni Blu Diesel + previously offered in its stations.

Vilsack Featured Speaker at Nat’l Ethanol Conference

vilsackrfaU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been named to the lineup for this year’s National Ethanol Conference. The gathering, going on Feb. 15-17 in New Orleans, is the most widely attended executive level conference for the ethanol industry. Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, was praised by the Renewable Fuels Association as being a long-time ally of ethanol.

Vilsack is a strong proponent of ethanol, renewable fuels and American agriculture. As leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Vilsack is working hard to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the tremendous innovation of rural America.

Other topics at the conference include, global marketing and logistics trends, ethanol’s benefits as a high octane fuel source, and much more!

More information and registration are available here.

Canadian Biomass Gets Government Boost

canada flagA dozen biomass projects in Manitoba, Canada, are getting a boost from the provincial and federal governments. This article from Canadian Manufacturing says the $500,000 in assistance is designed to help end coal use in the province.

“There are renewable energy resources readily available for use as biomass energy sources,” Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Ron Kostyshyn, said. “By increasing our capacity to make and use green energy we are reducing carbon emissions in Manitoba while promoting the growth of new industry.”

Among the proposals selected to receive funding two projects to convert a coal-fired heating systems to a biomass and funding for new equipment for Southeast Pallet and Wood Products in Blumenort, Man., which will allow the company to double its annual biomass processing capacity.

The program is funded partly through Manitoba’s Coal Tax, and like other bio-fuel programs across the country aims to promote the growing industry as well as reduce emissions.

NBB Challenges EPA Rules on Argentinian Biodiesel

scalesofjustice1The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is challenging the federal government’s rules on the import of Argentinian biodiesel. This article from the NBB’s ally, the American Soybean Association (ASA), says NBB filed a legal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that says the way the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is handling Argentinian biodiesel violates the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In January of 2015 the U.S. EPA approved an application to streamline the process for Argentinian biodiesel imports to demonstrate compliance with the eligible renewable biomass and sustainability verification requirements of the RFS. The application was submitted to EPA by CARBIO, the trade association representing Argentinian biodiesel producers. The EPA approval allows a more streamlined survey approach for demonstrating feedstock sustainability instead of the more rigorous map and track requirements.

The NBB filed the initial petition in December 2015 seeking court review of the EPA decision, citing the lack of a public comment period, the adequacy of the Argentinian plan, and the inability of EPA to verify that the plan meets RFS requirements.

In the brief filed this week, the NBB responded to EPA’s claims that the U.S. biodiesel industry is not a proper party to challenge EPA’s decision and that EPA can act outside of the public eye and without the court’s oversight in this case. The reply brief reminds the Court that EPA never disputed that Argentina continues to expand its agricultural base or that the CARBIO proposal was the first of its kind and differed from what EPA previously noticed to the public.

The NBB also previously filed an administrative petition for reconsideration with the EPA regarding this decision. However, EPA has not responded to that administrative petition, choosing instead to argue in Court. Final briefs in the case are due next month, after which oral arguments will be scheduled.

ASA points out that imports of biodiesel from Argentina to the U.S. increased sharply toward the end of 2015 and are expected to rise again this year.

Oregon Starts Push for Renewable Diesel

oregongovThe state government in Oregon is using a combination of incentives and technical expertise to support adoption of renewable diesel. This news release from the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) says some of the results of the initiatives include reduced emissions and a decrease in fleet maintenance for the Eugene Water & Electric Board, which began testing this innovation in alternative fuel in September 2015.

“Public agencies and companies across Oregon are working on ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and reach their climate goals,” said ODOE Director Michael Kaplan. “ODOE helps them get there by offering expertise on fleet management and innovative products like renewable diesel.”

In 2014, ODOE issued the Eugene Water & Electric Board a tax credit for installing an alternative fuel fueling station to run its fleet of vehicles. The station was designed to pump biodiesel, a well-known alternative fuel also made from natural fats and oils. But ODOE Senior Policy Analyst Rick Wallace thought EWEB could go even “greener” by using renewable diesel rather than biodiesel.

EWEB was enthusiastic about giving the product a try. “Moving our fleet to biodiesel helped us achieve our carbon reduction goals,” said EWEB Fleet Manager Gary Lentsch. “Switching to renewable diesel has taken us to another level.”

EWEB quickly realized the benefits of switching to renewable diesel for its fleet of 85 diesel vehicles. Using a regular gallon of diesel fuel emits more than 30 pounds of greenhouse gases into the air. Using a gallon of renewable diesel emits fewer than 10. EWEB is currently using about 6,100 gallons of renewable diesel a month.

EWEB also discovered that renewable diesel is much easier on vehicle engines and diesel particulate filter systems. After making the switch, Lentsch noticed a significant decrease in maintenance issues. “We have telematics on all of our vehicles and equipment so we know what’s going on with our fleet,” he said. “It wasn’t uncommon to get alert codes on our vehicles, and our shop would have to manually empty the filters (known as regeneration). After we switched to renewable diesel, our trucks don’t require regeneration as often as when they were using regular diesel. As a matter of fact, the shop hasn’t done a manual re-gen since the switch. Now, our trucks are staying in service longer with less down time.”

Renewable diesel is seen as an emerging market in the state.

Neste’s Renewable Diesel to Power Super Bowl City

Neste_logo_pmsPlenty of jaw-dropping action from this weekend’s NFL playoffs, as we get closer to knowing who will be playing in in Super Bowl 50. While we don’t know the final match-up just yet, we already know that the game’s host city, San Francisco, is scoring ecological points by running on renewable diesel. This news release from Neste says its NEXBTL renewable diesel is now being used by the City and County of San Francisco, California.

San Francisco announced December 11, 2015 that the City and County of San Francisco has completely ended its use of petroleum diesel in the City’s fleet and replaced it with renewable diesel. This switch from petroleum diesel to renewable diesel will achieve a significant 50 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction to the city’s diesel fleet.

City of San Francisco is now the largest city in North America to use renewable diesel. Earlier this year, the City of San Francisco tested Neste’s renewable diesel followed by an announcement that they will switch all of their diesel fleet to renewable diesel by the end of this year. City of San Francisco operates 1,966 diesel powered vehicles, which are all now using renewable diesel. The annual consumption is about 5.8 million gallons of diesel fuel. This change will completely end the use of petroleum diesel at the 53 City-run fueling facilities immediately.

“As the global climate negotiations conclude, San Francisco and cities worldwide must continue to lead by taking bold actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “These actions cannot wait. San Francisco has ended its use of petroleum diesel to fill up the City’s fleet of vehicles and will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality for our residents immediately today.”

Neste’s renewable diesel has been widely available in California since 2012 and is a significant contributor to the continuing success of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by state agencies.

“Neste’s renewable diesel is a solution to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe emissions, which municipalities can greatly benefit from. Switching to it doesn’t require any additional investments on infrastructure or engine modifications. Thus, fleets can switch to renewable diesel overnight”, says Kaisa Hietala, Executive Vice President, Renewable Products, Neste Corporation. “Neste is proud and happy to support San Francisco through the supply of renewable diesel. We feel privileged to help the City and County of San Francisco become more sustainable. It is our vision to give public and private fleets, as well as consumers, options to make such responsible choices”, continues Hietala.

IA’s Biofuels Industries Could Help Biochem Industry

ia-flag1The lessons Iowa has learned in making ethanol and biodiesel could serve the state well in an effort to make bio-based chemicals. This article from the Des Moines Register says, though, a new report indicates a state tax credit is needed to help the Hawkeye state take a slice of the country’s $250 billion chemical market with greener replacements.

“If you are not there at the nucleation, you can be left at the sideline and not be part of it,” Brent Shanks, one of the report’s authors, said during a news conference Thursday.

Shanks and two other Iowa State University professors wrote the report. The Iowa Biotechnology Association and the Cultivation Corridor, a regional effort to bring more bioscience companies to central Iowa, commissioned it…

The biotech association, Cultivation Corridor and other business groups, are pushing for a state tax incentive meant to spur the production of bio-based chemicals.

They have argued that Iowa needs to take advantage of its position before other states catch on. Many also were disappointed similar legislation did not receive enough support to pass last year.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called for a revenue-neutral bio-renewable tax credit in his Condition of the State address this week.

The article goes on to say Iowa’s massive ethanol, biodiesel and other bio-processing infrastructure gives the state an advantage over other states to start growing a bio-based chemical production industry. Proponents of the tax incentive point out that similar tax incentives in biodiesel and ethanol helped those industries grow so well in Iowa.

Propane Autogas Buses Offer Clean Ride to School

propane-vision-mb1A school district in Indiana this month is rolling out the state’s largest deployment of propane autogas school buses, giving the students a cleaner ride to school and saving taxpayer dollars. The Metropolitan School District of Warren Township will start using 11 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses purchased through dealer MacAllister Transportation, including 10 78-passenger models and one bus outfitted with a wheelchair lift.

“Better cold weather starts, lower maintenance and fuel cost, quieter buses, as well as better air quality for students, the bus driver and our community were the reasons we chose propane autogas,” said Steve Smith, director of transportation for M.S.D. Warren Township. “With the fuel’s clean operation, we anticipate longer maintenance intervals and lower periodic maintenance cost.”

The new Blue Bird Propane Vision buses replace older diesel models. A propane autogas fuel system manufactured by ROUSH CleanTech powers each bus.

Historically, propane autogas costs about 50 percent less than diesel per gallon and reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-operating properties. To fuel the buses, M.S.D. Warren Township installed two onsite autogas fuel stations with 1,000-gallon capacity each. “Our drivers will feel more confident taking the longer routes and field trips by having fuel conveniently located and available around the clock,” Smith said.

“M.S.D. Warren Township joins over 500 other districts nationwide experiencing the benefits of propane autogas technology: lowering operating costs, maintenance costs and emissions,” said Brian Carney, group account director for ROUSH CleanTech.

The fleet of propane autogas buses is expected to lower nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 13,600 pounds and particulate matter by about 350 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses they replaced.