A Fuels Institute article explores the carbon benefits of biofuels

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The Fuels Institute released a new white paper in June that discusses the carbon benefits of various biofuels. The document also addresses issues related to politics, raw material availability, and vehicle and infrastructure constraints.

The Fuels Institute is a nonprofit group founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores in 2013 that aims to publish evidence-based research related to market issues impacting the fuels industry. The new white paper, titled “Assessing Biofuels Policy: Effectiveness of Emission Reductions,” examines ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, renewable gasoline, hydrogen, and fuel blends containing 80% renewable diesel and 20% biodiesel (R80B20).

“We all know the road to decarbonization is long, and despite the introduction of new automotive technologies that promise to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, the reality is that we will be driving combustion engines and burning liquid fuels for decades. decades, and we need to pay close attention to this sector of the market,” said John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute. “Paper is just the tip of the iceberg. search for an answer to the carbon emissions of all vehicles, not just new vehicles equipped with different technologies.

A section of the document examines the different methods used to calculate the life cycle analysis (LCA) of a fuel and explains how the results of the LCA can differ considerably depending on the methodological model used and the methodological choices made by the researchers, such as the treatment of indirect land use change. (ILUC). To help the reader understand the impact of these variables, the document includes visual comparisons of the resulting carbon intensity (CI) scores for various biofuels modeled using different models and methodologies required by foreign and domestic policies. For example, the CI of palm oil-based biodiesel under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard is significantly higher than the CI of petroleum diesel. Under German policy, however, the CI of palm oil biodiesel is about one-fifth of the CI of petroleum diesel. The article also provides a timeline for CI modeling of corn ethanol, which shows how process improvements from new modeling techniques have impacted the CI of the resulting fuel. For example, the article shows that modeling done by Argonne National Lab in 1990 calculated the IC of corn ethanol to be just under 100 gCO2e/MJ. Thirty years later, in 2020, ANL calculations place the IC of corn ethanol at around 50 gCO2e/MJ.

The white paper also includes a discussion of federal RFS programs, as well as low-carbon fuel programs that have been implemented in California and Oregon. In addition, the Fuels Institute discusses the impact of other potential and existing policies, including legislative efforts to implement a high octane standard, planned actions by the U.S. EPA to Reduce Heavy Truck Emissions, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Blender Tax Credit, and the 45Q Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Tax Credit that will benefit CCS projects planned in many many ethanol plants.

Finally, the white paper includes a discussion of the availability and demand for biofuel feedstocks. While projections included in the document show relatively minor changes expected for biodiesel and ethanol feedstocks through 2030, feedstock demand for renewable diesel production is expected to increase significantly from around 2 million metric tons in 2020 to over 6 million metric tons in 2030.

Despite a federal policy in favor of electric cars, the Fuels Institute predicts little change in the number of light-duty gasoline cars in the US fleet through 2030. The white paper estimates that 76.8% of light-duty cars in the US fleet will be gasoline in 2030, with 5.2% flex-ethanol fuel, 2.5% diesel, 5.1% hybrid gasoline, 1.4% plug-in hybrid EV gasoline and 8.8% vehicles electrical.

A full copy of the white paper can be downloaded from the Fuels Institute website.

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