Biofuels in the United States
Overview of biofuels in the United States - from feedstock to end use view info >>
Biofuels ministries, organisations and agencies in the United States view info >>
Key biofuels industry and research stakeholders in the United States view info >>
Advanced biofuels demonstrations and R&D Projects in the United States view info >>
Biofuels policy, regulations, market development and support in the United States view info >>
Reports related to biofuels in the United States view info >>
Presentation on biofuels development in Canada and the US, EBTP SPM6, October 2014
Biofuels development in Canada and the US
Don Smith, BiofuelsNet Canada
Please note, additional information on research activities in the US is also included on the individual pages covering Second Generation biofuels technology (such as algal biofuels, biocrude, cellulosic ethanol, etc) and end uses (aviation, marine, etc).
Biofuels Development in the US
Biofuels (predominantly corn ethanol) now account for around 10% of transport fuels supply in the United States. The US Energy Information Administration predicts ethanol production will average 948,000 barrels per day in 2015, while biodiesel production will average 84,000 barrels per day.
The economic output of the 'renewable fuels industry' is $184 billion (in 2014). It supports over 852,000 jobs and $56 billion in wages and generates about $14.5 billion in local and state tax revenue every year [Source: National Corn Growers Association, April 2014].
See also Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of the United States, a short report prepared by Agricultural and Biofuels Consulting LLP for Renewable Fuels Association (February 2014).
In September 2013, E2 published the latest edition of its report Advanced Biofuel Market Report 2013 covering production capacity in the US and Canada through 2016. This shows that 160 advanced biofuels production facilities are under development.
In September 2012, EPA set a minimum volume for 2013 of 1.28 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel (under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007).
Following the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO)'s successful demonstration of cost-competitive cellulosic ethanol production technologies - R&D efforts now focus on the conversion of biomass into hydrocarbon fuels and intermediates that lead to "drop-in" replacements for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petroleum-based products.
As in Europe, sustainability of biofuels is becoming an increasingly important topic, and is addressed by the EPA and groups such as California Low Carbon Fuel Standards Sustainability Work Group. However, in comparison to the EU, political policy and investment in the biofuel industry in North America has been less influenced by food vs fuel and iLUC debates.
Biofuels Producers Coordinating Council (New organisaiton - website link to follow)
Renewable Fuels Association (the national association for the US ethanol industry).
In August 2012, eight Trade Assocaitions in the US formed the Biofuels Producers Coordinating Council to jointly advocate policies in support of biofuels. The Council includes representatives of the Advanced Biofuels Association, Advanced Ethanol Council, Algal Biomass Organization, American Coalition for Ethanol, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.
This section is currently being updated.
A number of companies are developing commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol, including: Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC, INEOS New Planet BioEnergy, Coskata, Enerkem, Abengoa Bioenergy, Fulcrum Bioenergy Inc, Fiberight, DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, Canergy LLC, Mascoma, ZeaChem, Qteros, BlueFire Ethanol. The demonstration/poduction facilities cover a range of conversion technologies including: enzyme-based and acid-based lignocellulose hydrolysis as well as gasification followed by either catalytic synthesis of hydrocarbons, or the use of anaerobic bacteria to produce ethanol.
Thermochemical, chemical and other innovative routes to advanced biofuels are also being developed in the United States. Recent US R&D&D projects are included on the pages on butanol, biocrude and pyrolysis, BtL, BioSNG, hydrocarbons via catalysis, and biotechnology, as well as those on algal biofuels and aviation biofuels.
The Advanced Biofuel Payment Program managed by the USDA is making $60 million in payments to 195 producers to support and expand production of advanced biofuels refined from sources other than corn kernel starch. The US provided a cellulosic biofuels production tax credit of up to $1.01 per gallon to help get these fuels to commercial viability. This expired in 2013. However, the Budget Proposal for 2015 proposed to extend the tax credit to further boost the commercial development of cellulosic ethanol.
On 7 February 2014 the $900m 2014 Farm Bill was launched, including funding for Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, the Community Wood Energy Program, and the Rural Energy for America Program. The bill is estimated to support 1 million rural jobs in the US.
The US DoE is also supporting RTD projects to optimise feedstock supply chains for biorefineries.
On 21 October 2013 the U.S. government announced $181 million in new loan guarantees to support the development of new commercial-scale biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels, either through development of new facilties or retrofitting of existing plants. Applications for the latest round of funding should be submitted due by 30 January 2014. This is the latest round of support provided by the Biorefinery Assistance Program, which was created through the 2008 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA Rural Development.
Focus of medium-term biofuels R&D&D in the United States
Following the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO)'s successful demonstration of cost-competitive cellulosic ethanol production technologies - R&D efforts now focus on the conversion of biomass into hydrocarbon fuels and intermediates that lead to "drop-in" replacements for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petroleum-based products. BETO recently selected several priority pathways—covering thermochemical, biochemical, and algal conversion technologies—that will guide its R&D strategy in the near term. More information about each of the pathways can be found in the individual fact sheet links below:
- Biological Conversion of Sugars to Hydrocarbons
- Catalytic Upgrading of Sugars to Hydrocarbons
- Algal Lipid Upgrading
- Whole Algae Hydrothermal Liquefaction
- Fast Pyrolysis Upgrading and Hydroprocessing
- Ex-situ Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis
- In-Situ Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis
- Syngas Upgrading to Hydrocarbon Fuels
Support for advanced biofuels in the US - presentation from EBTP SPM5 February 2013
Daniel Nibarger, International Economist, Biofuels Group, Global Policy Analysis Division, USDA FAS-Office of Global Analysis (OGA)
The Farm Bill, passed by the US Senate in June 2012, includes significant support for biofuels. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program receives $38.6m per annum (2013 -17). However, there is no funding for algae. It was announced that the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Program would receive $100m in 2013 and $58m per annum in 2014-15. The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels will receive $20m per annum (2013-17).
In March 2012, $35m funding for biomass R&D was announced, with DOE providing $10m for 1-3 projects and USDA NIFA providing $25m for 5-10 projects. Projects had to address three key technical areas - feedstock development, biofuels and biobased products development and biofuels development analysis.
Funding of advanced biofuels for military applications
In June 2012 , the DOE announced $40m funding initiative for “Innovative Pilot and demonstration-scale production of advanced biofuels” for aviation and military applications.
“The intent of this FOA is to identify, evaluate, and select innovative pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefineries that can produce hydrocarbon fuels that meet military specifications for JP-5 (jet fuel primarily for the Navy), JP-8 (jet fuel primarily for the Air Force), or F-76 (diesel).”
In May 2012 the US Senate voted to prohibit the use of DOD funds for the production or sole purchase of an alternative fuel if the cost exceeds the cost of traditional fossil fuels used for the same purpose. This was seen as a set-back for biofuels companies involved in developing fuels in co-operation with the US military. However, following pressure from the the Coalition of Military Biofuel Supporters an amendment was made to the National Defense Authorization Act on 29 November 2012, favouring the adoption of advanced 'drop in' biofuels.
The US military is committed to the use of advanced biofuels to support secuirty of energy supply. The Air Force aims to use biofuels to meet 50% of aviation fuel requirements on home soil by 2016, and the US Navy aims to draw 50% of energy from non-fossil sources by 2020. This is partly driven by the rising price of fossil fuel, which eats into US military budgets.
A study by Environmental Entrepreneurs suggests that use of biofuels by the military could add $10 billion to the US economy and create around 15,000 jobs by 2020. Around 800,000 jobs could be created in the advanced biofuels industry by 2022 (see below).
US-EC Research Cooperation
The EC-US task force on biotechnology research includes a Bio-based Products working group. The joint working group was established in 2004 to facilitate and coordinate collaborative (EU-US) research in molecular biology to create or improve biobased products and biofuels.
In February 2009, India and the US exchanged a memorandum for cooperation on biofuels development, covering the production, utilization, distribution and marketing of biofuels in India.
US Renewable Fuel Standard Program
The Renewable Fuel Standard Program to ensure that transportation fuel sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel. The original RFS program (RFS1) required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable- fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2012.
Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the RFS program was expanded in several key ways:
- EISA expanded the RFS program to include diesel, in addition to gasoline;
- EISA increased the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022;
- EISA established new categories of renewable fuel, and set separate volume requirements for each one.
- EISA required EPA to apply lifecycle greenhouse gas performance threshold standards to ensure that each category of renewable fuel emits fewer greenhouse gases than the petroleum fuel it replaces.
The EPA indicates that E10 is now the norm for ethanol/gasoline blends in the US, there will be a mix of E10 and E15 by 2017 and by 2030 E15 will be the standard [Ref: Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program].
ARPA-E PETRO Program - PLants Engineered to Replace Oil
The 10 projects that comprise ARPA-E’s PETRO program, short for “Plants Engineered to Replace Oil,” aim to develop non-food crops that directly produce transportation fuel. These crops can help supply the transportation sector with agriculturally derived fuels that are cost-competitive with petroleum and do not affect U.S. food supply. PETRO aims to redirect the processes for energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) capture in plants toward fuel production.
- NREL 2015 Survey of Non-Starch Ethanol and Renewable Hydrocarbon Biofuels Producers, a survey of 114 companies with reported commercial-scale biofuels production capacity (or intentions of developing commercial-scale production capacity) during calendar year 2015.
- World Fuel Ethanol Production Statistics As well as world statistics, this site provides charts of annual US production from 1980–2015, as well as weekly and monthly data from the EIA on US ethanol supply and ethanol production in terms of gasoline demand.
- Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of the United States, a short report prepared by Agricultural and Biofuels Consulting LLP for Renewable Fuels Association (February 2014).
- Advanced Biofuel Market Report 2013, E2, 2013 - the latest edition of its report covering production capacity in the US and Canada through 2016, showing that 160 advanced biofuels production facilities were under development.
- US Government Biomass Energy information
- US Energy Information Administration - information on consumption and production in countries globally
- IEA Bioenergy Task 40 (Sustainable International Bioenergy Trade): Country report for the United States 2014
- IEA Task 42 Biorefining - Country Report, the United States, 2014
- IEA Task 34 Pyrolysis: Country Report, the United States, 2014
- IEA Task 33: Biomass Gasification - Country Report, the United States, 2011