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CONTENTS 2022 SUMMER ISSUE VOLUME 19 ISSUE 2
5 Industry Events 6 Editor’s Note
Biointermediates: Production Opportunities and Regulatory Challenges
Renewable Diesel Soars, but Biodiesel's Here to Stay
Biointermediates present potential opportunities for biofuel producers, but close attention must be paid to regulatory requirements. BY SARA M. HERMAN
BY ANNA SIMET
8 Inside Clean Fuels Allliance America 10 SAF/Renewable Diesel Project Roundup
Heat Exchangers in Renewable Diesel Production
12 Catalyzing Decarbonization
Heat exchangers are becoming an intrinsic part of the new renewable diesel production processes being developed. BY JOHN MICHELIN
With a flurry of announcements in the first half of 2022, REG announced its pending acquisition by Chevron, the rebranding of its biodiesel and renewable diesel line, and several new partnerships. BY ANNA SIMET
SPOTLIGHT BDI - BIOENERGY INTERNATIONAL GMBH
Repeatable Catalyst, Repeat Customers BY BIODIESEL MAGAZINE STAFF
SPOTLIGHT SAM CARBIS SOLUTIONS GROUP LLC
Customized Equipment Without Delay
On Track to Lower Emissions
Biodiesel has not been greatly incorporated into the locomotive industry for a number of reasons, but many rail companies, technology and fuel providers are working to change that. BY KATIE SCHROEDER AND ANNA SIMET
BY BIODIESEL MAGAZINE STAFF
SPOTLIGHT RICHARD EPC
Realizations in Renewable Diesel BY BIODIESEL MAGAZINE STAFF
20 Exploding Acreage FEEDSTOCK
With ultimately the same goal of helping fill the expected surge in demand for oilseed crops, three developers are taking different approaches. BY SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL
ON THE COVER
Montana-based Sustainable Oils plans to contract with farmers to grow oilseed crop camelina, which will be crushed to produce renewable diesel at the company's newly retrofitted California refinery.
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33 3 29 31 5 & 35 15 36 7 19 23 18 14 32 2
2023 Biodiesel Industry Directory 2023 Biodiesel Plant Map BDI - BioEnergy International GmbH Carbis Solutions Group, LLC Clean Fuel Alliance America Crown Global Companies-Crown Iron Works Desmet Ballestra North America DSM Food Specialties B.V. Hayward Tyler Leem Filteration Oil-Dri Corporation of America Reiter Trading/Reiter Software Richard United Color Manufacturing
2023 International Biomass Conference & Expo February 28-March 2, 2023 Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, Georgia
Now in its 16th year, the International Biomass Conference & Expo is expected to bring together more than 800 attendees, 140 exhibitors and 65 speakers from more than 21 countries. It is the largest gathering of biomass professionals and academics in the world. The conference provides relevant content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-to-business environment. In addition to abundant networking opportunities, the largest biomass conference in the world is renowned for its outstanding programming—powered by Biomass Magazine–that maintains a strong focus on commercial-scale biomass production, new technology, and near-term research and development. Join us at the International Biomass Conference & Expo as we enter this new and exciting era in biomass energy. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
2023 Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit June 12-14, 2023 CHI Health Center, Omaha, Nebraska The Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit is a forum designed for biodiesel and renewable diesel producers to learn about cutting-edge process technologies, new techniques and equipment to optimize existing production, and efficiencies to save money while increasing throughput and fuel quality. Produced by Biodiesel Magazine, this world-class event features premium content from technology providers, equipment vendors, consultants, engineers and producers to advance discussion and foster an environment of collaboration and networking through engaging presentations, fruitful discussion and compelling exhibitions with one purpose, to further the biomass-based diesel sector beyond its current limitations. (866) 746-8385 | BiodieselSummit.com
2023 Int'l Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 12-14, 2023 CHI Health Center, Omaha, Nebraska From its inception, the mission of this event has remained constant: The FEW delivers timely presentations with a strong focus on commercialscale ethanol production—from quality control and yield maximization to regulatory compliance and fiscal management. The FEW is the ethanol industry’s premier forum for unveiling new technologies and research findings. The program is primarily focused on optimizing grain ethanol operations while also covering cellulosic and advanced ethanol technologies. (866) 746-8385 | FuelEthanolWorkshop.com
Please check our website for upcoming webinars www.biodieselmagazine.com/ pages/webinar
Blue skies ahead. Cleanfuels.org The National Biodiesel Board is now Clean Fuels Alliance America.
RENEWABLE DIESEL SOARS, BUT BIODIESEL’S HERE TO STAY Anna Simet Biodiesel Magazine
In a recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it is predicted that renewable diesel supply—domestic production and net imports—will exceed biodiesel supply in the near term. EIA projects that renewable diesel capacity will increase to 130,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2022 and 145,000 b/d in 2050. As for biodiesel, it will also see expanding capacity, albeit smaller increases. The agency expects biodiesel production to rise by 7% this year, averaging 114,000 b/d, and up to 115,000 b/d in 2023. For a little more context on renewable diesel growth, at the end of 2020, U.S. renewable diesel production capacity was estimated at about 0.6 billion gallons. By 2024, it is forecasted to reach an astounding 5.1 billion gallons per year. That leaves lots of questions to be answered, perhaps most notably: Where will the feedstock come from? Companies like Renewable Energy Group are continuously looking at new possibilities. In our page-12 feature, “Catalyzing Decarbonization,” Bob Keyon, vice president of sales and marketing, touches on the company’s feedstock strategy. While playing cards close to the chest when it comes to divulging specifics, Kenyon did say that cover crops and creation of a new seed crop are a couple of the opportunities on the table, and that REG does not have concerns about sourcing. That brings me to our page-20 feature and cover story, “Exploding Acreage,” which details efforts of three developers of oilseed crops: camelina, CoverCress and carinata. Despite their benefits and potential role in satisfying renewable diesel feedstock demand, commercialization of a new crop is a marathon, to say the least. Even so, those working on these efforts are seeing some positive developments, including one that is critical to success: interest and engagement of farmers. Says Dale Sorensen, CCI chief commercial officer, on CoverCress, “It’s blown my mind the interest farmers have shown over the winter.” Sorenson expects to recruit between 75 and 100 farmers for fall planting, with most interested in raising more than 100 acres, and some double or triple that number. On that theme of feedstock, I want to circle back to my introduction regarding renewable diesel surpassing biodiesel. As a note that I want to end on, I’ll point to a conversation that I had with Hermann Stockinger, chief sales officer of BDI Bio-Energy International, a company that has become well known for its technology, plant upgrading and project development capabilities. While discussing momentum in the renewable diesel sector, he was quick to point out that biodiesel is not going anywhere. In particular, “We see that biodiesel shows the best greenhouse gas savings—with the right technologies, it allows use of the lowest-quality waste materials that can’t be used for renewable diesel,” he says. “These waste materials require pretreating and are very hard to bring to a level that allows them to be used in renewable diesel reactors, due to the many impurities that cannot be separated up front … We see that there will always be good further opportunity for biodiesel when it comes to the use of low-quality waste materials.” Finally, you may have noticed the addition of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to the masthead. Simply put, the industry is evolving, and we are, too. We look forward to bringing you continued coverage of all things biodiesel, renewable diesel and SAF.
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2022 SUMMER EDITION
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Adding Another Leaf to the Table: National Biodiesel Board Becomes Clean Fuels Alliance America
Donnell Rehagen, CEO, Clean Fuels Alliance America
A few years ago, my wife, Shelly, and I visited Greece. It filled me with wonder to think about how challenging life must have been, and yet the ancient Greeks built massive architectural structures without the modern tools and machines we have today. When I think about the past 30 years of the biodiesel industry, I am reminded of the Greek God, Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, he pushed a giant boulder uphill for eternity. I’d say our industry, like other alternative fuels, has felt that way a number of times. However, I’d say fuels like biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel are better represented by Athena. She was known to represent wisdom and the virtues of justice, skill and victory. We have never let the challenges overtake our spirits. Instead, we have held our heads high and strategized our next moves. At last, we’re reaching a point we had long dreamed of—perhaps even beyond what we initially envisioned. The tables have turned. Our fuels are in demand to help people meet their goals and help America reach a low-carbon future. We’re here and we’re making an impact now, not waiting until decades into the future. As the biodiesel industry celebrates its 30th anniversary, I am reminded that the soybean farmers and leaders who founded our organization had great faith, foresight and fortitude. These humble beginnings in 1992, and the small group of leaders and visionaries who started our industry, are the reason that it, even today, seems like a family—and now, a growing family. In 1992, no biodiesel had been produced commercially yet, and today, we produce 3 billion gallons a year of biodiesel and renewable diesel. The emphasis on carbon reduction across the globe has opened new doors. Net zero commitments from governments and corporations have raised interest in low-carbon fuels like never before. We are making great strides in markets like marine, rail and aviation that previously had been, at best, neutral to us. Likewise, when considering options to help reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from their
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vehicles and equipment, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and fleets are also taking a much deeper look at us. While electric solutions are still under development, clean, advanced biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel are readily available now for use in existing diesel engines. Most OEMs, including Ford, General Motors, Stellantis, Cummins and many others, currently support the use of 20% biodiesel blends in their diesel equipment. However, forward-looking fleets from coast to coast—including several in California, Chicago, Madison, Washington, D.C. and New York City—are looking to higher blends of biodiesel, even up to B100, to lower their carbon footprint even more dramatically. Our vision statement says that “Biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel will be recognized as mainstream low-carbon fuel options with superior performance and emission characteristics.” There is room for all these fuels at our industry’s family table. In that spirit, the National Biodiesel Board has added another leaf. This January, we made it official: We are now Clean Fuels Alliance America. This new brand will transform our image and position us as a proven, innovative part of America’s clean energy mix, now and in the future. In the process, we’re inspiring America’s energy and transportation leaders to discover new sources of scalable, cleaner fuels. Biodiesel remains a foundation of our association. Our country couldn’t be having real conversations about carbon reduction targets today if it weren’t for the work of those in biodiesel. Athena was known as “one who fights in front.” As Clean Fuels Alliance America, we move to the front, proudly blazing a new path forward in clean energy. Donnell Rehagen CEO, Clean Fuels Alliance America CleanFuels.org This article first appeared in Green Car Journal
INSIDE CLEAN FUELS ALLIANCE AMERICA Bringing Passion to the Clean Fuels Alliance America
For Veronica Bradley, her environmental work is more than just a job—it’s personal. “I know that the lake that I grew up on in Michigan isn’t the same lake today,” she says. “There’s no more ice fishing because the ice doesn’t get thick enough. I think climate change is a very real thing, and that’s where I see the urgency of the immediate solution
in clean fuels.” As the new director of environmental science for Clean Fuels Alliance America, formerly the National Biodiesel Board, Bradley is uniting her scientific background, legal experience and passion for preserving the environment. “I have an undergraduate degree that focused on environmental studies, so I learned all of the nature-based sciences that gave me a foundation to understand our issues and the science behind the solutions to our environmental issues,” she says. Bradley says that she has always had a deep connection with nature and a great interest in protecting it for future generations, including her two young children. “I want them to be able to see the world as I’ve been able to see it,” she says. “There’s a genuine sense of ‘pack-in, pack-out’ if you’re a hiker—leave the place as good as you found it, if not better.” As director of environmental science, Bradley will provide the scientific foundation to promote policies that encourage the use of biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. “One of the things I’ve always been interested in, and I think aligns with Clean Fuels, is working in the space of reducing our environmental impact without compromising our quality of life,” she says.
Clean Fuels Connects Through D.C. Events
In February, Clean Fuels Alliance America sponsored the 2022 Energy Independence Summit, which drew thousands of attendees, including Sens. Debbie Stabenow and John Boozman, chairwoman and ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, respectively. The annual conference, hosted by Transportation Energy Partners, brings together the nearly 90 Clean Cities coalitions from across the country to discuss transportation issues and opportunities. David Cobb, Clean Fuels director of federal affairs, educated the conference participants about the status of the Renewable Fuel Standard rules and the biodiesel tax incentive, which is set to expire at the end of this year. “The biodiesel and renewable diesel market grew to 3.2 billion gallons in 2021—the highest level ever,” Cobb noted. “Our industry needs EPA to set higher volumes and timely rules for 2022 and beyond to support that growth.”
Bradley says that this work intrigues her because while most people want to have a positive impact on the environment, not everyone can make major life changes. “They have so many other priorities that compete with thinking about what’s the most environmentally beneficial option, and working in the clean fuels space, you don’t have to change anything,” she says. “You just get the different fuel, and you can carry on with your life. You’re making a better choice.” At Clean Fuels, she will develop policy positions and work with program offices to promote the environmental benefits of these fuels. She says that some states have had great success in promoting and incentivizing the use of clean fuels, and these programs can be rolled out across the country to help states and local governments meet their climate commitments. Bradley’s Midwestern perspective helps her express the significance of farmers to policymakers in Washington, D.C., and across the country. “I think that people that live in cities, in particular, are disconnected from their food and the land in some ways. The farmers’ importance to support urban life can’t be underscored enough,” she says. Bradley’s previous experience includes working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and American Wind Energy Association. Most recently, she served as the director of environmental affairs at Airlines for America, where she worked in environmental advocacy on climate issues, corporate sustainability disclosure and more. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction from the University of Michigan in 2007, and earned her juris doctor magna cum laude from American University Washington College of Law in 2014. Bradley stepped into her new position at Clean Fuels in early May, working out of the Washington, D.C., office.
Clean Fuels’ sponsorship allowed Floyd Vergara, director of state governmental affairs, to present progress on a study of the health benefits communities can achieve by using biodiesel to replace diesel fuel. March 24 was National Ag Day. In recognition, Clean Fuels partnered with member company Optimus Technologies and two D.C. fleets—the District of Columbia Department of Public Works and the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority—to showcase trucks that run on low-carbon 100% biodiesel in the nation’s capital. “The District of Columbia continues to be celebrated as a leader in the use of alternative fuel vehicles,” said Department of Public Works Interim Director Mike Carter, whose agency displayed one of their brand new B100 packers. “Altogether, the District’s government fleet consists of more than 700 biodiesel and alternative fuel vehicles.” Clean Fuels appreciates the support of the Kansas Soybean Commission, Nebraska Soybean Board and North Dakota Soybean Council for helping sponsor these events. www.BiodieselMagazine.com
Renewable Diesel and SAF: Project Roundup The renewable diesel conversion project at CVR Energy’s Wynnewood, Oklahoma, refinery is nearly complete. The renewable diesel unit is expected to be fully operational in Q2, initially utilizing a mix of pretreated soybean oil and corn oil. Work is progressing on the expected installation of a feedstock pretreatment unit that will allow the facility to process a wider variety of lower-carbon-intensity feedstocks. In addition, engineering and design work is underway to evaluate a potential renewable conversion project at the company’s refinery in Coffeyville, Kansas, which may include sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production in addition to renewable diesel. ENGlobal Corp. has been selected by a confidential client to provide engineering, procurement and construction services for a renewable fuels plant designed to produce approximately 100 MMgy of SAF and renewable diesel. The U.S.-based plant is scheduled for commissioning in 2024, and will utilize licensed processes from Haldor Topsoe A/S. Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Neste Corp. have entered into definitive agreements to form a 50/50 joint venture to produce renewable diesel following a conversion project at Marathon’s existing refinery in Martinez, California. Marathon has been working to convert the Martinez facility to renewable diesel production for several years. The company has completed a similar conversion project at its refinery in Dickinson, North Dakota. That project, with a capacity of 180 MMgy, began operating at full capacity during the second quarter of 2021. The Martinez project will now be structured as a 50/50 joint venture with Neste. Neste is expected to contribute $1 billion to the project, inclusive of half the total project development costs projected for completion. Marathon will continue to manage project execution and operate the facility once construction is complete. Phillips 66 is moving forward with Rodeo Renewed, a project to convert its San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo, California, into one of the world’s largest renewable fuels facilities. The project recently received approval from Contra Costa County and is expected to cost approximately $850 million. Upon completion of Rodeo Renewed, the converted facility will no longer process crude oil, instead using waste oils, fats, greases and vegetable oils to produce an initial 800 MMgy of renewable transportation fuels, including renewable diesel, renewable gasoline and SAF. Commercial operations are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2024.
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Parkland Corp. plans to build a stand-alone renewable diesel complex at its existing Burnaby, British Columbia, crude and synthetic oil refinery, which it also plans to expand by 5,500 barrels per day (b/d). The renewable diesel operation will be capable of producing approximately 6,500 b/d. The projects will require a collective investment of approximately $600 million. Parkland has received B.C. government support for over 40% of the project costs in the form of B.C. Low-Carbon Fuel Standard Compliance Credits. Air Products is teaming up with World Energy to build a $2 billion major expansion project at World Energy’s SAF production and distribution hub in Paramount, California. The Los Angeles County facility is the world’s first commercial-scale and North America’s only operational SAF production facility, according to Air Products, and its total fuel capacity will be expanded to 340 MMgy. The long-term, take-or-pay agreement with World Energy includes Air Products’ construction, ownership and operation of a new hydrogen plant, with the renewable fuels manufacturing facilities to be operated by World Energy. The project is scheduled to come online in 2025 Refuel Energy Inc. has begun planning construction of a 3,000 b/d renewable fuel facility in southern Ontario. The plant would utilize Haldor Topsøe’s proprietary HydroFlex and H2bridge technologies for the production of hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel and SAF. Fluor Corp. is the contractor for the facility, dubbed Refuel YYZ, and will be providing front end engineering and design services, as well as detailed engineering, procurement and construction management support. Refuel Energy expects to make a final investment decision in 2023. If approved, production would begin in 2025. The Queensland, Australia, government announced that Australia-based Oceania Biofuels is developing a proposed 92.5 MMgy renewable diesel and SAF biorefinery in Gladstone, on the eastern coast of Queensland approximately 300 miles north of Brisbane. Construction of the $500 million project is expected to begin next year. Once operational, the plant will process locally sourced feedstocks, including tallow, canola and used cooking oil.
RENEWABLE DIESEL & SAF PROJECT ROUNDUP¦
Twain Financial Partners closed a $136 million ground purchase and leaseback arrangement for a $300 million renewable diesel facility under development by New Rise Renewables Reno LLC in Reno, Nevada. The latest phase of construction will include a feedstock pretreatment facility, wastewater treatment facility and energy recovery system. The facility is expected to be complete by November and will be able to produce 3,000 b/d of renewable diesel. The Oregon Department of State Lands approved the Removal-Fill Permit for Next Renewable Fuels’ $2 billion clean fuels project at Port Westward in Columbia City, Oregon. The approval allows Next to build a renewable diesel facility that will be capable of producing more than 37,500 b/d (600 MMgy) at initial startup, growing to more than 50,000 b/d at full capacity. Currently in the permitting phase, the facility is scheduled to open in 2024. Strategic Biofuels reported that its Louisiana Green Fuels project in Caldwell Parish has finished the preliminary engineering phase and has moved into front end engineering design. Hatch is the project engineering partner and Koch Project Solutions is the project management and EPC partner. Strategic Biofuels’ business model is focused on achieving a negative carbon footprint through carbon capture and sequestration, renewable power and forestry waste feedstocks. It is expected to produce approximately 33 MMgy of renewable fuels, with an approximate 88%/12% renewable diesel to naptha ratio. Construction is scheduled for 2023, with operations slated for late 2025 or early 2026. PHOTO: BDI-BIOENERGY INTERNATIONAL
A team of foremost energy industry companies led by SGP BioEnergy joined the government of Panama to announce development of Biorefineria Ciudad Dorada (Golden City Biorefinery), located in Colon and Balboa, Panama. Once online, they believe it will be the largest advanced biorefinery and SAF production platform in the world, producing 180,000 b/d (2.6 billion gallons per year) of biofuel. Developed in partnership with private landowners, Panama Oil Terminals) and the Panama government, this project will repurpose existing facilities currently processing and storing 70% of the country's bunker fuel oil to the refinement and storage of biofuels derived from purpose-grown plant oils and waste fats and greases. The project is expected to be complete within five years.
BDI-BioEnergy International has completed a next-generation biodiesel production plant in Bakersfield, California, for Crimson Renewable Energy, based on BDI’s patented RepCAT technology. The plant, now with an approximate production capacity of 37 MMgy, will mainly operate with waste oils and fats collected in the local region, especially from central and southern California metro area. The companies held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completed project in April (pictured above).
Decarbonization With a flurry of announcements in the first half of 2022, REG announced its pending acquisition, the rebranding of its biofuel line and some new key partnerships. BY ANNA SIMET
In late March, REG announced the reIt only took Renewable Energy branding of its biofuel product line, EnDuGroup a couple of decades to bera Fuels, with five different brands: InfiniD come a biofuel industry force. The (biodiesel), PuriD (biodiesel for use in highAmes, Iowa-based company is now the leading producer of biodiesel in the U.S. and fourth-largest in the world, and has attracted the business interests of oil giant Chevron. In late February, Chevron announced its intentions to acquire REG later this year. Mike Wirth, Chevron CEO and chairman, was transparent with the motive behind the acquisition: REG’s expertise in feedstock sourcing and its market access are second to none, and an attractive means of bolstering the company’s renewable fuel business. “REG has been a leader in sourcing and aggregation of feedstocks—particularly lower-carbon intensity feedstocks,” Wirth said during a teleconference following the announcement. “This is an area where REG has distinguished itself. It’s an area that we don’t—to be completely blunt—have the expertise. We’ve been moving into these markets, but REG brings decades of experience and people who have relationships and technical understanding that we simply don’t have.” The all-cash transaction is valued at $3.15 billion. On May 18, REG stockholders approved the acquisition. 12
er biodiesel and renewable diesel blending) VelociD (renewable diesel), Ultra Clean BlenD (a blend of VelociD and PuriD) and BeyonD (sustainable aviation fuel). Cynthia Warner, REG’s CEO—who is expected to gain a seat on Chevron’s board of directors—unveiled EnDura Fuels during a live webcast, emphasizing the urgency of adopting decarbonization solutions that are available in today’s marketplace. “REG has more than 1,000 employees in Iowa and across the world, and never has there been a more important time to work in the renewable fuels space,” she says. “Policymakers and consumers are demanding adequate and reliable fuel supplies in these uncertain times, and the decarbonization of those fuels.” Warner says that although there are many highly touted decarbonization solutions, many are decades from true scale and cannot offer the type of progress needed right now. “It’s important to stop and ask: What’s the cost of waiting for solutions not yet available?” As for the strategy behind giving these products their own distinct names, in so many words, Bob Kenyon, REG vice president of sales and marketing, says it’s to help
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consumers understand each product and what it can do, while disassociating them from diesel products. “We want customers to be able to relate to products that perform like diesel, but understand they are low-carbon and clean energy solutions,” he tells Biodiesel Magazine. “They might know biodiesel and renewable diesel are in the marketplace, but they may not necessarily understand what those products do, because they’re related to the fossil diesel category. Our position with EnDura Fuels is to help customers realize there are products in the marketplace available today—and we wanted to help them differentiate between different blends and products, as well as their performance and applications.” New Partners, New Markets Kenyon highlights several recent partnerships with customers in a spectrum of industries, one of which is Manchester United, a professional football club based in Greater Manchester, England. MU will use EnDura Fuels in groundskeeping equipment, after 100-plus years of petroleum diesel. Teaming up with mobile fueling service Booster, REG will supply renewable diesel, biodiesel and blended fuels to fleets in California (and in late May, Booster announced nine-figure Series D funding). Another no-
Renewable Energy Group's Geismar, Louisiana, is currently under expansion. It was the first operational renewable diesel plant in the U.S. PHOTO: RENEWABLE ENERGY GROUP
table example is Canadian Railway Co. and Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, which have partnered with REG to test high-level biodiesel and renewable diesel blends, potentially helping speed up the pace for widespread rail adoption. “We’re excited to partner with the rail industry and OEMs,” Kenyon says. “It’s real for them. Their customers, suppliers and investors are asking them to reduce their carbon footprints. And we’re seeing that in other spaces as well—specifically, the marine space, which is another industry that has been slower to adopt low-carbon fuel solutions. We’re partnering with some of the largest container shipping and bunker fueling companies, for B30, B40, B50 and up to B100 powering ships. These emerging markets are starting to unfold.” Feedstock and Production Earlier this year, consulting company Cerulogy released a report exploring the
impacts of renewable diesel capacity on oil and fats markets in the U.S.—in summation, the report said that considering the cascade of announcements for new renewable diesel projects, it is unlikely the full announced capacity will be reached—largely in part due to limits on feedstock availability—and likely that many projects will be delayed, canceled or run far below capacity. Other reports have indicated similar predictions. When asked about feedstock constraints, Kenyon was bullish on the outlook for REG. “Feedstock is obviously a key to success,” he says. “And feedstock innovation. We’re partnering for some unique opportunities, and novel feedstocks are being tested right now in our labs and biorefineries. REG already works with a number of different feedstocks that people may not be aware of—beyond cooking oil, white grease and distillers corn oil—and they have tremendous growth potential as the industry evolves. As demand continues to increase,
we’ll continue to innovate to create feedstock abundance.” As for specific examples of the novel feedstocks Kenyon refers to, he says he cannot not disclose specifics at this time, but he says cover crops and creation of a new seed crop are a couple of opportunities on the table. As for production, REG currently has 11 facilities—two in Europe and one the U.S. In 2021, the company produced an approximate total of about 550 million gallons of renewable fuels. Out of that, roughly 450 million gallons were biodiesel and 100 million were renewable diesel. The ongoing expansion of REG’s Geismar, Louisiana, renewable diesel plant is expected to be complete at the end of 2023, according to Kenyon, which will add 250 million gallons of capacity. “So, our portfolio balance will be close to a 50/50 ratio of renewable diesel to biodiesel when that production comes online,” he says. In a quarterly earnings rewww.BiodieselMagazine.com
Renewable Energy Group provides Manchester United with UltraClean BlenD for use in the football club’s groundskeeping equipment at historic Old Trafford stadium. PHOTO: REG
port in early May, REG reported that while biodiesel production was down slightly due to the shuttering of its Houston plant in late 2021, renewable diesel production was up 42% for the quarter.
Accelerating Adoption Kenyon says the company plans to press full speed ahead to enable more customers to transition to biodiesel and renewable diesel. “We really want to help customers in certain markets understand and embrace these fuels. They have an option to make an
impact right now—fleets can be converted today. There are some tough, complicated choices, but this is this is the simplest way to decarbonize in today’s market.” With global energy prices surging and the need for more domestic energy production more critical than ever, the significance of REG’s mission is irrefutable. “The case for biofuels has been made for years, but it has been the past couple of years we have we have really seen consumers with large carbon reduction targets, and regulatory policy that incentivizes the adoption of lowcarbon fuels,” Kenyon adds. “I think people are beginning to understand that our ability to produce renewable fuels does give us security of supply and energy independence, and not just decarbonization.” Author: Anna Simet Editor, Biodiesel Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org 701-738-4961
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LO WE R
EMISSIONS Biodiesel has not been greatly incorporated into the locomotive industry for a number of reasons, but that may be poised to change. BY KATIE SCHROEDER AND ANNA SIMET
While decarbonization goals have been widely adopted across most North American transportation sectors, rail has been seemingly behind the curve. That’s slowly changing,
however, as more companies are investing the time, money and research to facilitate adoption of biodiesel and higher blends—and as of recently, renewable diesel blends, too. Brightline, Progress Rail, Union Pacific Rail, BNSF Railway and others have ongoing initiatives to do so. B5 from the Beginning Using biodiesel isn’t new for high-speed rail company Brightline, the only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the U.S. “Brightline has been using biodiesel since the start of service,” says Vanessa Alfonso, director of media relations for Brightline, which is owned by Florida East Coast Railway. Alfonso explains that the company will have a total of 21 electric-biodiesel locomotives by the end of 2022, each of which run on a 5%, ultra-low sulfur biodiesel blend. Brightline’s trains use two locomotives powered by a 16-cylinder, 4,000 hp Cummins EPA Tier-IV compliant diesel electric engine. “Tier 4 emission standards are EPA’s most stringent emission standard for nonroad engines and requires the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, which results in an approximate 90% reduction of emissions as compared to Tier 0 locomotives,” 16
she explains. Local company Florida Power and Light supplies Brightline with a custom blend biodiesel designed for their locomotives. Alfonso explains that Brightline trains have an increased efficiency of 378% compared to traveling by car and an efficiency of 44% over air travel. The first Brightline railway route was a 67mile trip between West Palm Beach and Miami. It began construction in 2015, was completed in 2017 and started service in 2018, according to Alfonso. Construction of a new phase, a double track running from West Palm Beach to Cocoa Beach, began construction in 2019. “Phase 2 also includes 35 miles of corridor to Orlando International Airport where a new rail alignment was constructed along SR 528,” Alfonso says. “Once at OIA, the 3.5-mile corridor going south through the active airport (Zone 2) was realigned through and represents one of the most complex and challenging areas for construction in the entire project.” Another route under construction runs from Aventura and Boca Raton, and will be completed in fall 2022, and plans are to continue to use B5 in all Brightline trains. Up to B20: Progress Rail and Union Pacific As a Caterpillar company, Progress Rail is one of the largest integrated diversified providers of rolling stock and infrastructure solutions and technologies for the global rail industry, which
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includes battery electric locomotives and hydrogen, and increasingly, renewable fuels. “We are extremely active in the testing and evaluation of higher blends of biodiesel for both rail and marine applications,” says Michael Klabunde, director of power systems product management at Progress Rail. “Biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels offer great advantages for customers to make an immediate impact in reducing greenhouse gasses.” Recently, Progress Rail approved the use of up to 20% biodiesel blends in specific EMD locomotive series operated by Union Pacific railroad. Previously, the locomotives were approved to operate at 5%. The updated fuel recommendation comes after testing high-horsepower locomotives used for hauling freight long distances, monitoring performance for things such as fuel consumption, as well as impact on engine oil and fuel filters. “The increase in the allowable use of biodiesel content from 5% to 20% in all EMD 645 and 710 engines is a very positive step in reducing GHG emissions for our rail, marine and industrial customers,” Klabunde explains. “This jump in approval to B20 allows for increased reductions without radical changes to our customers’ fueling infrastructure or expensive upgrades to their fleets.” The use of higher biodiesel blends has been studied much more extensively in road vehicles, but that research is serving as a basis for adoption into rail. “There are many similarities between road vehicles and rail, and much
High-speed passenger railroad company Brightline has been using B5 since it began operations in 2018. PHOTO: BRIGHTLINE
MARKETS of the developments and experiences are being leveraged,” Klabunde says. “It is important to remember locomotives generally have much higher duty cycles, operate in harsher environments, and consume much greater quantities of fuel on an annual basis. Aspects related to temperature, fuel flow, filtering and wear all need to be evaluated. Additionally, locomotives are subject to separate emissions regulations.” Klabunde says Progress Rail has a broad range of additional testing and observation plans in place—for example, a recently completed series of stationary testing with a broad range of blends of biodiesel and renewable diesel. “These tests have been focused on engine performance and exhaust emissions,” Klabunde says. “Our field tests for fuels are focused on longer-term engine reliability and durability, while also investigating the seasonality presented by high blends of biodiesel.” Additionally, Progress Rail is working with customers in Asia and South America who have fleets of the company’s locomotives running biodiesel blends, and more testing activities are underway with Union Pacific. “These are for our 1010J engine for our EMD SD70Ace-T4 unit,
and we expect to provide updates to the industry as we learn more,” Klabunde says. The ultimate focus, Klabunde adds, is to enable customers to hit emission targets and do so without radical changes in fueling infrastructure, while maximizing the value and longevity of their existing EMD engines, whether that application be rail, marine or power generation. While Progress Rail’s engines support varying blends of biodiesel and renewable diesel, there is more development work, testing and validation required, Klabunde emphasizes. “As an OEM, we must ensure the performance, durability and reliability our customers expect while complying with regulations. In addition to engines, there are some challenges related to fuel infrastructure and storage across the wide range of environmental conditions in North America. We are working with our customers to ensure proper controls are in place.” One of those challenges is potentially fuel availability, but the fast-growing market is reassuring. “According to some estimates, the North American rail industry uses approximately 3.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually,” Klabunde says. “If this were all B20, it would equate to a
need of approximately 700 million gallons of biodiesel. There is inherently limited capacity in the biodiesel market, but major fuel refiners and providers are investing in capacity. It truly is a dynamic time in the fuel market.” Another one of Progress Rail’s partnerships is with Canadian National Railway and Renewable Energy Group, which was announced earlier in the year, and it aims to test high-level biodiesel and renewable diesel blends, up to 100%, through trials and qualifications. The program “will allow CN and Progress Rail to better understand the long-term durability and operational impacts of renewable fuels on locomotives, especially in cold weather, and plan needed modifications to fully leverage their usage over the next decade.” Several other rail companies are working on similar initiatives, including Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF, both of which have partnered with Wabtec Corp. Wabtec, Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Union Pacific Railroad will begin using a higher biodiesel blend in locomotives it acquired from Wabtec, with a goal of increasing
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High-speed passenger railroad company Brightline has been using B5 since it began operations in 2018.
Union Pacific Railroad will begin using a higher biodiesel blend in locomotives it acquired from Wabtec Corp.
PHOTO: PROGRESS RAIL
the percentage of low-carbon fuels consumed to 10% of its total diesel consumption by 2025 and 20% by 2030. Per the partnership, in the second half of the year, Union Pacific will begin testing with B20 and R55 renewable diesel on trains powered by Wabtec FDL engines operating in California. Wabtec locomotives were previously approved for B5 and R30 for locomotive engines, of which there are approximately 11,000 in operations today with railroads across the world. As testing progresses, according to Wabtec, it is anticipated that higher percentages of biofuels will be used. The partnership with BNSF Railway is similar—beginning in Q2 of this year, the companies will demonstrate the performance
of B20 and R55 in revenue service on Wabtec Tier 3 and Tier 4 Evolution Series locomotives in California. BNSF will operate the locomotives between Barstow and Los Angeles, California. The project comes on the heels of a BNSF pilot project conducted last year, with a battery-electric locomotive developed by Wabtec in commercial service between Barstow and Stockton that, according to Wabtec, showed an 11% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions compared with standard diesel units operated on the same route. The rail industry is intently focused on reducing its environmental footprint by exploring emerging technologies, says Bob Bremmer,
group vice president for Wabtec’s Fleet Innovation and Transformation division. "Biofuels provide a unique near-term opportunity to have a significant impact on reducing carbon intensity." In summary, though behind the curve compared to other transportation sectors when it comes to low-carbon fuels adoption, the rail industry—with the assistance of technology providers, fuel suppliers and other stakeholders—is well on track to change that. Author: Anna Simet Contact: email@example.com
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ACR E A GE Three developers take different approaches to filling the expected surge for demand in oilseeds with crops that promise low GHG scores. BY SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL
Remember the parable of the duce nutrient losses creating pollution ismustard seed? Developers of three oil- sues through leaching into groundwater and seed crops—relatives in the mustard family—have faith they’ll soon have significant acreages of camelina, CoverCress and carinata seeded and harvested to meet growing demand. The exact acreages are held close to the vest, but developers are projecting tens of thousands of acres in the next few years, yielding between 1,300 and 2,500 pounds per acre, with oil yields ranging between 32 and 38%. The growing demand for renewable diesel feedstocks has already kicked the price of vegetable oils to new highs, raising hopes that growers and the developers of the new crops will reap nice profits as new capacity under construction promises to turn growth into a hockey stick-shaped curve. The three oilseed crops share several characteristics. Related to the more familiar canola, they are all small-seeded, high-oilbearing crops being promoted as winter cover crops that pay a financial return, as well as provide ecosystem services. All have similar characteristics to canola oil as a biodiesel or renewable diesel feedstock. And all are considered nonfood crops with no indirect land use impacts. Winter cover crops are promoted by conservationists to stem erosion and re20
surface runoff. Other ecosystem services include introducing biodiversity, which in turn reduces weed pressure and breaks disease cycles. Cover crops also provide spring blossoms for pollinators and build soil organic carbon. The major barrier to broad adoption, however, has been the farmers’ costs for seeding the crops and burning or working them down for spring planting. Common Challenges While the benefits seem clear, successfully commercializing a new crop is a steep mountain to climb. There’s the agronomic challenge—developing crop varieties that reliably germinate and establish good stands, overwinter well and have minimal insect and disease issues. The varieties need to grow quickly in the spring and be ready for an early harvest, be easy to combine and resistant to shattering. On top of that, the development of any oilseed crop has to include ensuring the meal will be an acceptable feed. Development of better-performing varieties has been aided by land-grant university researchers for all three crops, with initial trials occurring in multiple regions for all three before developers narrowed their development efforts into their respec-
2022 SUMMER EDITION
tive regions. Research plot work only goes so far, though. So, the next challenge is to find farmer cooperators willing to scale up the experiments in larger fields across a large enough area to evaluate different soils and growing conditions. For growers, a major advantage of the three new cover crops is that existing equipment can be used for planting and harvest, although the small seeds will require some adjustments. All three developers have aimed for varieties with growing seasons that don’t disrupt traditional crop rotations in their targeted growing regions.
Alex Clayton, Nuseed Carinata global business development lead, stands in a field of carinita. PHOTO: NUSEED CARINATA
There’s also a significant midstream challenge to create a seed distribution network and facilities that can take in the crop after harvest and move it to the crusher. Crushers in canola country can readily adapt to a similarly-sized seed, but crushers in soybean country can face multiple modifications. Then, there’s the downstream challenge—creating a reliable, stable market. No new crop is going to make it if growers aren’t confident they’ll get paid. And while USDA has aided crop research efforts through land-grant universities, the devel-
opers’ business models have to support profitable, sustainable, long-term operations. Major differences lie within the business models. CoverCress, Global Clean Energy Holdings and Nuseed—developers of CoverCress, camelina and carinata, respectively—are working in very different regions in the U.S. with their crops filling different niches with different approaches to building upstream, midstream and downstream business segments. All have landed major oil company support.
CoverCress in the Midwest CoverCress is domesticated from a weed known by many names—pennycress, stinkweed, frenchweed—and infamous for the weed seed’s ability to lie dormant and germinate for several years, earning noxious weed status in some states. Gene editing techniques were used to develop CoverCress, thinning the seed coat to achieve 90% germination, improving stands and reducing weediness. The breeding also reduced the fiber content and erucic acid compounds that would limit the meal’s use as feed. CoverCress Inc. (CCI) was the commercial partner in the research effort involving Illinois and Minnesota university researchers. Working to scale up production, Dale Sorensen, CCI chief commercial officer, traveled across central Illinois and Missouri meeting with small groups of farmers this winter, holding spring field days and filming the CoverCress harvest this spring. “It’s blown my mind the interest farmers have shown over the winter,” Sorensen says. He expects to recruit between 75 and 100 farmers for fall planting, with most interested in raising more than 100 acres and a few wanting to try 200 to 300 acres. The majority of acres harvested this spring will provide seed inventory for this fall’s seeding alongside multiple 5- to 20-acre demonstration fields. With CoverCress maturing in time for a mid- to late May harvest in that region, the crop is targeted at growers interested in following CoverCress with a late-seeded soybean crop. The preceding crop can be either corn or soybeans. In the CCI business model, the company is supplying seed at no cost, contracting with farmers to grow the crop, and buying all of the harvested seed. “If they manage the crop doing everything right, we’ll do a production guarantee of 1,300 pounds per acre,” Sorensen says. The first harvests will be heading for use as whole seeds in poultry rations, serving as a bridge market until sufficient volumes can supply a crusher, while also building potential customers for CoverCress meal. www.BiodieselMagazine.com
FEEDSTOCK Starting in central Illinois (where CoverCress isn’t hampered by pennycress’ noxious weed status), Sorensen says the crop could expand west to irrigated acres in Kansas and east as far as Delaware. “That’s greater than 30 million acres of corn and soybeans,” he says. Having no expectation of being planted on all acres, he believes there is opportunity to reach 3 million acres in six to eight years. The midstream and downstream components for CCI firmed up this spring through expanded partnerships. In April, the company announced Bunge and Chevron were investing a combined $26 million in the company. Bunge had been early investor in CCI, and Chevron is increasing the investment made last year by its recently acquired REG. “Bunge is taking our grain, crushing and turning it into meal and oil that they’ll market,” explains CCI CEO Mike DeCamp. “Our arrangement with Bunge is unique. The value that gets created for us is tied to the value of downstream products.” In February, Bunge and Chevron announced a joint venture through which Chevron will contribute about $600 million toward doubling Bunge’s crush capacity at its soybean processing plants in Destrehan, Louisiana, and Cairo, Illinois. Chevron will have purchase rights for the oil feedstock, adding in the February announcement that it expects to create the capacity to produce 100,000 barrels per day of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. Camelina for the Northern Plains Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc. is taking a different approach to supply chain development for the camelina developed by its Montana-based subsidiary, Sustainable Oils. It plans to contract with farmers to grow the crop, crush the oilseed in its own facility and produce renewable diesel at its newly retrofitted California refinery. GCEH’s downstream operations are nearly ready to go. In 2020, the company purchased a dormant oil refinery in Bakersfield, California, and began retrofitting it for renewable diesel using Haldor Topsoe technology. At full capacity, Bakersfield Renewable Fuels LLC is expected to produce 22
230 MMgy of renewable diesel, propane and naphtha. Future plans include building an oil crushing facility on the 510-acre campus to process the company’s camelina and soybeans. GCEH has a long-term offtake agreement with ExxonMobil, announcing a $125 million investment from the major oil company in February. Camelina production is targeted at dryland wheat country in the Northern Plains and adjacent states—areas where the traditional practice is to grow wheat one year and leave the land fallow the following year, building moisture reserves to grow another wheat crop in year three. The low moisture requirement for a camelina cover crop doesn’t compete, says GCEH President Noah Verleun. “It’s only taking the moisture they will lose anyway to evaporation.” Furthermore, growing camelina saves farmers the inputs costs to manage weeds in the fallow year, he says. GCEH is contracting with growers and partnering with the large regional cooperative CHS for seed distribution and agronomy support, Verleun says. And because the harvest comes counter cyclically and elevators are familiar with canola handling, there’s sufficient capacity to handle camelina. In an investor presentation on its website, GCEH says Sustainable Oil’s contracted growers produced enough certified seed in 2019 to plant up to 110,000 acres in 2020 and enough seed would be available to double the acreage in 2022. Verleun led the company’s regulatory efforts, securing a first-of-its-kind feedstockonly pathway in 2015 for Sustainable Oil’s patented camelina. On the company’s website, GCEH says its renewable diesel using camelina earns a carbon intensity score of 7 gCO2e/MJ, when a credit for meal is applied, and 23 without the meal credit. The U.S. EPA has listed camelina as an eligible Renewable Fuel Standard feedstock for advanced biofuels since 2013, which Verleun points out will generate not only a D4 RIN, but also D5 RINs (unlike soybean oil) for coproducts used as transportation fuel, such as naphtha or propane. GCEH is positioning itself to go international, having acquired a Spanish cameli-
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Under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, camelina seed is an eligible feedstock for advanced biofuels, which it has been since 2013. PHOTO: GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY HOLDINGS INC.
na company, Madrid-headquartered Espana SL, in January. “With that acquisition, we’ve got really strong genetics that been adapted in Europe,” Verleun says. “With our genetics the only fully advanced camelina genetics in the U.S., by combining them we have a dominant footprint in camelina expertise and genetics.” Carinata in the Southeast Nuseed is preparing to commercially launch carinata in the U.S. Southeast this summer, having focused the crop’s development in Argentina for the past five years. The company is partnering with France’s cooperative-owned crusher Saipol, Europe’s largest biodiesel producer, sending all of its carinata grain to France each year as it scales up production. Nuseed is a relative newcomer to biofuel feedstocks, having acquired carinata
technology in 2018 from Agrisoma, which had been working on the crop in Argentina and the southeastern U.S., as well as other regions. Nuseed is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nufarm Ltd. working in Australia, Europe and North and South America with proprietary varieties of canola, sunflower, sorghum and now carinata, targeting value-added markets such as omega-3-rich canola. “Argentina was chosen as the initial launch point for carinata because Nuseed has a strong footprint in Argentina with all four crops,” explains Alex Clayton, Nuseed Carinata global business development lead. The company has teams across the country working on seed sales and agronomic support, plus a grower base where many employ cover crops after their main cash crop, typically soybeans. Another advantage for starting in Argentina, Clayton explains, is that farmers there are accustomed to supplying export markets with different requirements and willing to work with Nuseed as it figures out its regulatory approach. Shipping carinata to Europe for biofuel production requires
clearing the hurdle of sustainability certification. Nuseed’s South American carinata production is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials for the European Renewable Energy Directive standard. Growers share information directly with Nuseed, data that is that is tied to their farm’s GPS coordinates, and Nuseed then analyzes satellite images to certify the land use and grower compliance with certification requirements. A portion of the farms are audited annually. As a result, Clayton says, “We have a very detailed knowledge of how to improve the greenhouse gas footprint of what our farmers do in the field. We’re always looking at moving that bell curve forward by incentivizing farmers saying, if you do this practice that improves our GHG score, we’ll pay you more.” If the company can improve its GHG performance each year, he adds, it more than outweighs the cost. This year, Nuseed is expanding carinata acreage in South America and the U.S. while launching its first hybrid—a technology that promises more robust, hardier
crops and more yield security. Carinata will not be entirely new in the U.S., as Nuseed continued the R&D collaboration with land-grant universities started by Agrisoma. Nuseed has multiple plots testing the hybrid in Florida, south Georgia, Alabama and south Texas, in preparation for its U.S. launch this fall. As for midstream and downstream developments, Clayton says the company is in discussions around crush, but hasn’t announced anything yet. In February, Nuseed announced a 10-year strategic agreement with BP, “focused on accelerating our efforts and allows us to grow without worrying about where that grain is supposed to go,” he says. “BP may not consume all the oil, but they will market the oil as well.” In those discussions, Clayton adds, “They were asking how they could help us reach meaningful volumes by that 2024, ‘25, ‘26 timeline when the big demand crunch is going to come, and we start on that hockey stick growth.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITIES AND REGULATORY CHALLENGES While biointermediates present opportunities for biofuel producers, close attention should be paid to regulatory requirements. BY SARA M. HERMAN
The U.S. EPA published the proposed Renewable Fuels Standard annual rules in December. Within the proposed rules, EPA included a section on biointermediates—feedstocks that are partially processed at one location and further refined at another—and outlined a number of requirements related to the use of approved biointermediates. Allowing biofuel producers to use biointermediates as a feedstock source expands the current pool and gives producers additional options when it comes to managing their upstream sourcing. However, there are several requirements that both biofuel and biointermediate producers should be aware of as they plan for future production. Current State of Play The growth of the biofuels industry has always been tied to feedstock growth. Biofuels continue to play an impactful role in the global challenge to decarbonize, and feedstock innovation is a necessary component of industry growth. Biointermediates have long been lowhanging fruit for biofuel producers seeking to transform wastes into energy and grow the feedstock pool, whether it be from coproducts of biofuel production or biocrude from woody biomass. Traditional biofuels are also finding new applications, such as corn ethanol being upgraded to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). EPA does not currently allow biointermediates as qualified feedstocks for renewable fuel production under the RFS. Innovative solutions, like biocrude, cannot be used to produce biofuel that generates renewable identification numbers (RINs) under the current RFS. Lack
of approval from EPA effectively bars biointermediate producers from participating in the biofuels industry, and also stifles development of additional feedstock sources. Originally, EPA intended to make biointermediate feedstocks an integral part of the RFS in 2010 with the transition to RFS2, and again in 2016 with the Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support rule. Since the 2010 regulations were promulgated, the cellulosic category has stagnated, and—while EPA cites technology limitations—inflexible regulation around biointermediate inclusion in the program has more likely contributed to the lack of growth. EPA made another attempt to promote cellulosic growth and increase the economics and efficiency for biofuel producers, particularly for advanced and cellulosic fuels with lower carbon footprints through the REGS rule, but it was never finalized. In its most recent proposed rulemaking, published on Dec. 10, EPA included a regulatory change that could result in the approval of three types of biointermediates for biofuel production: biocrude, free fatty acids (FFAs), and undenatured ethanol. Incorporation of these three biointermediates would increase the overall feedstock pool for biofuel production, help to spur cellulosic production, supply more low carbon fuels domestically, and potentially result in deeper decarbonization through biofuels in the transportation fuel pool.
or gasification; FFAs from biogenic waste fats, oils and greases, distillers corn and sorghum oil, food wastes, oil crops and algal oil; and undenatured ethanol that meets U.S. Department of Treasury requirements. The industry has always been opportunistic and innovative in the feedstock arena, and the biointermediates subject to approval would continue this legacy. Biocrude represents a waste-to-energy opportunity for processing woody biomass and agricultural wastes in an intermediate facility for generation of D3 and D7 RINs, as long as the renewable biomass is predominately cellulosic. FFAs separated through pretreatment in an intermediate facility could now be used by producers to generate D4 and D5 RINs, and this approval would allow for a larger portion of the raw feedstock source to be transformed into energy. Finally, ethanol producers could sell undenatured ethanol to other producers to be upgraded into other products and generate RINs, including sustainable aviation fuel through alcohol-to-jet technologies. Biointermediate and biofuel producers who seek to expand the current proposed list of biointermediates must go through a formal rulemaking process—including notice and comment periods—that will closely mimic the process required to add a Table 1 pathway today. Approvals for new Table 1 pathways often take years to move through rulemaking, and it is likely that the same will be true for additional biointermediates.
Approved Biointermediates Biofuel producers who wish to use bioin- Regulatory Requirements for termediates are initially limited to the three in- Biointermediates cluded in the most recent rulemaking: biocrude Biofuel and biointermediate producers from renewable biomass processed by pyrolysis alike will have new requirements in conjunction
CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biodiesel Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s). 24
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with their production and using biointermediates after the rule is finalized. Biointermediate producers will need to register their facilities to participate in the RFS, and biofuel producers will need to update their registrations to reflect the use of biointermediate feedstocks. Both types of producers will be subject to a mandatory Quality Assurance Plan and will each have new reporting requirements related to the EPA Moderated Transaction System. Biofuel and biointermediate producers will need to work together to ensure their activities under the RFS meet these new requirements. Biointermediate producers must register their facilities with EPA and provide information related to their company, the types of biomass used to produce their biointermediate, and the qualifying Table 1 pathway for the biointermediate product. Biointermediate facilities will also need to conduct an initial on-site, thirdparty engineering review as a condition of their registration. Biofuel producers are required to amend current registrations to include any biointermediates used in their production processes and provide additional information related to the upstream production and purchase of these biointermediates. Also, it’s important to note that EPA requires registration updates and approvals 60 days prior to using a biointermediate. Biointermediate producers will also be required to designate a single biofuel producer in their registration for the offtake of their biointermediate product. EPA has proposed a limitation on the transfer of biointermediates in an effort to avoid potential situations for fraudulent RIN generation. While biofuel producers will be able to procure biointermediates from
various suppliers, biointermediate producers will be limited in the sale of their product to a single biofuel producer. This limitation will require both types of producers to coordinate their registrations and approval activities and have appropriate contracts in place. The regulation allows for biointermediate producers to change their designated biofuel producer once annually. Given the requirements in place to complete registration, it is unlikely that more than one registration amendment could be completed in the allowed timeframe. In addition to limitations on transfers, EPA will require all biointermediate producers and biofuel producers using biointermediates to be audited under a Quality Assurance Plan. The QAP for biointermediates will closely resemble the voluntary QAP program currently in place for biofuel producers, and will validate feedstock origins, processing and the transfer of product to the biofuel producer. EPA will require that both the biointermediate producer and the biofuel producer use the same thirdparty auditor for the program’s QAP requirement. Third-party auditors providing QAP services for biointermediates will need to establish pathway-specific plans approved by EPA prior to completing the required audit. Finally, both biointermediate producers and biofuel producers using biointermediates will need to report specific information related to biointermediates in EMTS. Biointermediate producers will report volumes of biointermediates produced, as well as information on the entity taking title of the product, and characteristics associated with processes for each batch. Biofuel producers will be required to report the type and quantity of biointermediates used for
each batch of fuel, and include the EPA facility registration number for each biointermediate production facility. The current EMTS platform will require updates to allow program participants to comply with reporting requirements. Any delay in system modifications could potentially delay reporting, though EPA has stated that it believes the system will be ready for implementation. Conclusion EPA’s biointermediate provisions present opportunities for the biofuels industry and its supply chain if finalized. Biofuel producers will have additional sources of feedstock and new end markets for traditional fuels that undergo additional processing. Many of the requirements within the proposal can only be achieved through close coordination between biointermediate and biofuels producers. Additionally, both types of these producers will need to coordinate current and future business activities with third-party auditors to ensure RINs generated meet regulatory requirements. The biofuels industry has always been ready to meet regulatory challenges in order to capture additional value, grow the industry, and increase the air quality improvements and health benefits of biofuel production. As demand for energy increases—clean energy in particular—biointermediates will provide an avenue for value-added raw materials, additional production volumes and more decarbonization opportunities. Author: Sara M. Herman Senior Consultant, Christianson PLLP firstname.lastname@example.org www.christiansoncpa.com
Heat Exchangers in Renewable Diesel Production BY JOHN MICHELIN
Due to the small size of hydrogen molecules, metallurgical selection, design features and fabrication procedures are of utmost importance in heat exchanger manufactures. PHOTO: EXCHANGER INDUSTRIES LTD.
The production of this traditional biodiesel relies on the use of Although the COVID-19 pandemic reduced deheat exchangers in many areas, such as heating and cooling methamand for all types of fuel, as the economy recovers, nol, evaporation and condensing, as well as heating biodiesel to imdemand for gasoline and diesel is recovering rapidly. The price of biodiesel in North America rose more than 50% last year, partly driven by the discrepancy between demand and production capacity. According to Advanced Biofuels Canada, Canadian biodiesel consumption in 2020 amounted to 334 million litres (88.2 million gallons). A recent report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network suggests that Canada could have 3.27 billion liters (863.84 million gallons) of renewable diesel production capacity in place within the next four years. A number of high-profile biodiesel and renewable diesel projects have been announced in the country to help meet this growing demand. Biodiesel is traditionally produced by the transesterification of vegetable oil or animal fats into fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) via the addition of methanol to the fatty triglycerides found in the vegetable oil at high temperatures and pressures. The resulting biodiesel is then usually blended with mineral diesel (typically at rates between 5% and 20%) for use as a road fuel. In 2021, the average rate of biodiesel blending in Canada was 2.8%.
prove flow rates, heat recovery and the thermal hydrolysis of advanced feedstocks. A Changing Role One use of heat exchangers in the biodiesel production process is the condensation of methanol (either pure methanol or a mixture of gas vapor phases) to recover and purify the methanol from the biodiesel after esterification and transesterification. This recovery is often vital to the renewable nature of the process, and to help reduce production costs. To ensure that the recovered methanol is of suitable purity, the heat exchangers used for the condensation (often under vacuum conditions) must be carefully designed to meet tight thermal tolerances. However, as the biofuel industry moves from first generation oil-based biodiesel production (using feedstocks such as canola oil) to second- and third-generation renewable diesel (based on woody biomass), the role of heat exchangers in renewable diesel production is also changing. They are becoming an intrinsic part of the new and novel production processes that are being developed.
CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biodiesel Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s). 26
2022 SUMMER EDITION
'As the biofuel industry moves from first generation oil-based biodiesel production to second- and third-generation renewable diesel, the role of heat exchangers in renewable diesel production is also changing.’' Calgary-based Exchanger Industries Limited is working with a number of clients on renewable diesel projects. Some of them are looking to add renewable diesel production to existing refineries using a wide range of agricultural feedstocks. These often have interesting service requirements that utilize significant amounts of hydrogen at high operating temperatures and pressures. Hydrogen is generally used in refineries to “clean” and lower the sulphur content of diesel fuels, but it is also the smallest known molecule that can diffuse into certain materials and welds, so metallurgical selection, design features and fabrication procedures are of utmost importance for equipment and plant reliability. When using specialist materials in such challenging environments, it is important that the thermal and mechanical design is
Welds and tube joints are crucial where hydrogen is used as a service material. PHOTO: EXCHANGER INDUSTRIES LTD.
properly configured and assessed to ensure the heat exchanger functions correctly and reliably, and that it produces the product required to an exacting specification. Therefore, it is critical to engage a provider with extensive experience and familiarity with the sort of high-temperature, high-pressure working environments that occur in renewable diesel production. Author: John Michelin Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Exchanger Industries Ltd. www.exchangerindustries.com
SPOTLIGHT BDI BIOENERGY INTERNATIONAL GMBH
Repeatable Catalyst, Repeat Customers “International” couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to Styria, Austria-based BDI-BioEnergy International’s customer base. Having recently begun or completed projects in China, England, Germany, Belgium and California, BDI’s retrofit capabilities and Repeatable Catalyst Technology (RepCAT) are in high demand. RepCAT Recap The RepCAT technology is capable of processing raw materials with a high proportion of free fatty acids (FFA), up to 99%. Per its name, the system allows the catalyst to be reused within the process, significantly reducing operating costs. And another very notable benefit: it has been approved in Europe for use with high-risk fats. In April 2021, BDI received approval from the European Food Safety Authority to deploy RepCAT as a disposal process for high-risk, contaminated waste fats. These materials were required to be disposed of by incineration only up until 2005, when BDI received approval to use Category 1 material in its standard multifeedstock process, explains BDI chief sales officer Herman Stockinger. “Last year, RepCAT was approved, so now our European customers using RepCAT can utilize this high-risk material, which is certainly lower in price and an additional benefit.” Recent Project Roundup The biodiesel first plant in Europe to utilize BDI’s RepCAT technology came online in March in Komárom, Hungary, where BDI built a 15 MMgy production facility for ENVIEN Group subsidiary Rossi Biofuel Zrt. An existing on-site biodiesel plant that opened roughly a decade before processes higher-quality waste materials, according to Stockinger. “The technology in the new plant is particularly designed for low-quality, high FFA materials, such as waste oils and contaminated animal fats, brown grease and used cooking oil,” he says. In Bakersfield, California, Crimson Renewable Energy recently began operating a new line that BDI implemented at its existing biodiesel plant. The project added 28
roughly 13 million gallons in production capacity, says Stockinger, noting that this wasn’t the first project BDI did in partnership with Crimson. In 2016, BDI performed a retrofit project at the same site, supplying the technology, key equipment and the engineering services. With the addition of the new line, Crimson’s total annual production capacity in Bakersfield is now more than 37 MMgy. “There, we also delivered our RepCAT technology, which results in about 90% savings for acids, lyes and catalysts compared to conventional biodiesel plants,” Stockinger says. In Ghent, Belgium, Cargill is constructing a multi waste- and residues-based biodiesel plant at its existing integrated oilseeds crush and Bioro biodiesel site. The new plant will have a production capacity of 115,000 tons (approx. 30 MMgy) of biodiesel per year and is scheduled to open in June 2022. “We’re in the commissioning phase right now with this project, and it’s scheduled to come online in June, on time,” Stockinger says. “This plant will also use the RepCAT technology, and it is the first Cargill plant that will be capable of processing wastebased feedstocks.” In Emden and Oeding, Germany, U.S.based Renewable Energy Group has signed a contract with BDI to upgrade its existing plants by installing state-of-the-art feedstock pretreatment technology—BDI’s RetroFit technology—to process wastes fats and oils. Construction and the project is expected to be complete during the second half of 2023, with startup by year-end. On the Horizon As for what’s ahead, Stockinger says BDI plans to bring new biodiesel plant process control software to the market this year. “Our Smart Operation is similar to the adaptive cruise control in cars,” he explains. “It does not necessarily have to be a BDI plant; it’s an add-on to an existing process control that uses process history data to allow for optimal control of the different process units.” Stockinger says it is currently installed in one plant in Europe. “It’s important to note that it isn’t necessarily new—it is used in the
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paper industry and others. You need to have a certain understanding of the chemical process in order to make the right selection and adjustments to a system, and we have this expertise in-house.” On business and the market, BDI’s books are full, and the company is hiring, Stockinger says. “This a good situation, and in line with current requirements of the markets,” he says. “We’re not only offering biodiesel, but pretreatment for the renewable diesel industry, which is gaining momentum.” Stockinger says there is some competition between biodiesel and renewable diesel when it comes to feedstock, but that the future will bring a balance of technologies. “In particular, we see that biodiesel shows the best greenhouse gas savings—with the right technologies, it allows use of the lowest quality waste materials that can’t be used for renewable diesel,” he says. “These waste materials require pretreating and are very hard to bring to a level that allows them to be used in renewable diesel reactors, due to the many impurities that cannot be separated up front. So, we see that there will always be good further opportunity of biodiesel when it comes to the use of low-quality waste materials.” Finally, Stockinger says BDI is continually working to improve customer service—beyond enlarging its staff and adding services like Smart Operation, the company is performing more bottleneck analysis of biodiesel plants. “We will visit a customer, analyze operations and work out improvements,” he says. “It is usually a two-day visit, and we’ll deliver a report in which we make suggestions to improve the plant’s yield— things like energy consumption, improving byproducts, increasing the overall efficiency of the operations, and improving biodiesel quality. We’re sending our best people to do that, real experts who have been in the biodiesel industry for decades and really know the different processes.”
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BDI has built numerous biodiesel plants worldwide with a total installed production capacity of more than 2 million tons of biodiesel per year. This allows 2.7 million cars to be operated in a CO2-neutral manner.
SPOTLIGHT SAM CARBIS SOLUTIONS GROUP
Customized Equipment Without Delay When Sam Carbis designed the first aluminum ladder in 1930—and subsequently founded the Aluminum Ladder Company—the impacts on fire departments were profound. Perhaps most notably, it allowed firefighters to more safely perform their jobs. Fast-forward 90 years, and the Carbis family still oversees the company, and its expertise in industrial manufacturing has expanded exponentially, with safety continuing to be central business pillar. Sam Carbis Solutions Group provides customized bulk loading equipment and turkey systems for truck, rail and marine applications across all industries—expertise that has advanced since the company assisted in U.S. industrial manufacturing during WWII. “We evolved from there,” explains Jason Shannon, Carbis director of sales and marketing. “We’ve been in the industrial sector since the late ‘40s, and we’ve been doing it since.” That work has expanded into biofuels—in particular, the extremely momentous renewable diesel sector. Recently, the company partnered with Eldorado, Kansas-based Blackburn Construction Inc. to design and deliver key equipment for an Oklahoma renewable diesel loading and unloading system. Triumph on a Tight Timeline Being an industry leader in the design and manufacture of access equipment and loading arms wasn’t the only allure of Carbis—it was their track record, says Brad Clites, president of Blackburn Construction. “We have partnered with a management group that has experience with these types of facilities, and several times, Carbis had provided them with their loading and unloading arms, gangways and other components for projects,” Clites says. “We had all worked on a project together in North Dakota, and they did a great job.” The Oklahoma project was the first time the companies did direct business together, however. In the current biomass-based diesel industry, time is of the essence, Shannon says. “It’s very much ‘We need it now,’ so the 30
timeline was crucial from their standpoint,” he says. “They knew we had this experience from prior projects, so they really wanted to lean on us and be able to tell us what they needed to do, and have us determine the type of equipment needed for them to achieve their goal.” So, how does the process begin? Shannon says Carbis custom engineers all equipment, which stems from in-depth conversations with the client to understand what they’re trying to accomplish, and what their needs are to do just that. “We tailor the solution to get their desired results,” he says. “Once we gain that thorough understanding of the operation and what’s required, we take it to our engineering team to talk about the parameters, footprint and desired results, and they will develop the solution that will meet or exceed that result.” As for what the Oklahoma project entailed, it included a renewable diesel loading and unloading system consisting of a dual access platform, safety gangways and cages, loading arms and track pans for spill containment. “We worked with them on the access platform to allow operators to work at heights, and the access gangways and cages allow them to get out on top the railcars safely and have fall protection,” Shannon explains. “We also provided loading arms to connect to the railcars to pump product in
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and out as needed. The goal is twofold; keep operators safe and keep the product flowing efficiently.” The project turnaround time was approximately six months, according to Shannon. “This was pretty aggressive for a project of this size,” he says. Despite the time crunch, Cites says Carbis left nothing to be desired. “They provided an excellent product,” he says. “Their management group worked closely with us on the schedule. It was a very fast-paced project, and we were pulling no stops at all on what we needed. We pushed them hard and they met expectations, so we feel very fortunate. Even for their warranty work—we recently had a little bit done—they were phenomenal. Carbis is a very down-to-Earth company with an outstanding business model. When we hear there is a Carbis project, we’re excited and happy to be working with them.” As for ongoing business in biofuels space, Shannon says Carbis is active in numerous projects, all of which are renewable diesel. “We recently completed three very large project expansions,” he adds. “There are about a dozen large rail facilities being built right now, and we’re working on at least half of them. Our previous successful projects are keeping us busy.”
SPOTLIGHT RICHARD EPC
Realizations in Renewable Diesel Paying homage to their surname, the Richard Family set out to build companies on a foundation comprised of three core values: safety, honesty and integrity. Today, the singlepoint engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction company embodies those principles, having grown to 1,500-plus employees with vast experience in the U.S. refining and petrochemical industries. That work has increasingly included projects in the explosivegrowth renewable diesel sector, particularly for repeat customer and renewable diesel producer Diamond Green Diesel LLC. Renewable Diesel Portfolio The first renewable fuels project Richard EPC was engaged on was initiated in late 2009, which included a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study and subsequent engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of a 10,000 barrel-per-day (b/d) renewable diesel facility for DGD in Norco, Louisiana, which commenced operations in 2012. Several years later, Richard EPC was commissioned to expand the facility to 18,000 b/d, a project that was completed in 2018.
DGD continued to engage Richard EPC for additional projects, including a 30,000 b/d renewable diesel and gasoline facility, also in Norco, Louisiana, that came online in late 2021. “Richard EPC was contracted to work with DGD and its licensed process provider to prepare the FEED studies and provide detailed engineering for the process units, along with associated utility areas,” says Keith Johnston, Richard EPC senior project director. “This consisted of a licensed hydrotreating unit, a pretreat unit, wastewater treating unit and renewable gasoline unit. An existing 34-car, crude-by-rail system was repurposed to receive and offload the raw feedstock, and we were awarded mechanical construction for the new facilities.” The project was completed three months ahead of schedule with an overall schedule of just 34 months, from engineering and design to startup, Johnston tells Biodiesel Magazine, adding that the company also recently completed detailed engineering and procurement services for the process units at DGD’s new 35,000 b/d renewable diesel facility in Port Arthur, Texas, and will construct the pretreat and wastewater treatment units.
Richard EPC Richard EPC’s main offices are located in Beaumont, Texas, and additional engineering office locations are in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as Lake Charles, Louisiana and Kolkata, India. As for how Richard EPC is set up, it is comprised of three integrated, specialized companies. “These companies work seamlessly together to bring clients an array of full-service engineering, procurement, construction, electrical and fabrication services to the refining and petrochemical industries across the U.S.,” Johnston says. “Our years of petrochemical hydrotreating and hydrocracking refining experience transitioned us easily into the renewable fuels market,” he adds. “With the current trend toward renewable fuels gaining impressive momentum, we feel our recent experience with these large-scale renewable fuels projects provides us with valuable knowledge to guide owners expeditiously through the transition from fossil fuels to renewable fuels.”
Full-service renewables project engineering, procurement and construction. • • •
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