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
and end uses (aviation, hybrid
Biofuels Development in the US
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)
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).
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.
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. The Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Program will 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 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).
In March 2012, $35m funding for biomass R&D was announced. DOE will provide $10m for 1-3 projects. USDA NIFA will provide $25m for 5-10 projects. Projects must address three key technical areas - feedstock development, biofuels and biobased products development and biofuels development analysis.
On March 13 2012, Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC broke ground on the site of the $250m 'Project Liberty' cellulosic ethanol facility. The plant will produce 20 MMgy per year of cellulosic ethanol from corn stover and cob, and will share infrastructure with the adjacent 50 MMgy ethanol plant.
In January 2011, the USDA announced that "Coskata, Inc. has received a letter of intent for a $250 million loan guarantee to construct and operate a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery facility. Enerkem Corporation has been selected to receive an $80 million loan guarantee to build and operate a biorefinery producing 10 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from MSW. INEOS New Planet BioEnergy, LLC. has been selected to receive a $75 million loan guarantee to construct and operate a biorefinery capable of producing 8 million gallons-per-year of cellulosic ethanol and gross electricity production capacity of 6 MW. The feedstock for the process will include primarily vegetative waste (citrus and agricultural wastes), yard wastes, wood waste, etc.." [Source: USDA].
In October 2010, USDA published a final rule to implement the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Under the BCAP final rule, USDA will resume making payments to eligible producers. The program had operated as a pilot, pending publication of the final rule. Authorized in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, BCAP is designed to ensure that a sufficiently large base of new, non-food, non-feed biomass crops is established in anticipation of future demand for renewable energy consumption.
Domestic production of renewable energy, including biofuels, is seen as a national imperative the USDA aims to help develop a thriving biofuels industry in every part of the US. A recent USDA report indicated that the initiative will will create jobs, combat global warming, replace our dependence on oil imports and boost the economy [Source: USDA].
SPM4 Presentation by Paul Grabowski on United States DoE Bioenergy program
Integrated Biorefineries Portfoilo Overview (1.3 Mb PDF)
The United States is currently the world's biggest producer
of fuel ethanol (producing an estimated 9000 million gallons in 2008, according
to the US Renewable
Fuels Association). It is making substantial investments
to bring second generation biofuels to market, particularly cellulosic
ethanol, as outlined in the National
Biofuels Action Plan (PDF 5.0 Mb).
In January 2010, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced
the investment of nearly $80
million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for advanced
biofuels research and fueling infrastructure that will
help support the development of a clean sustainable transportation sector.
The two consortia selected for funding were:
for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) ($44
million) - Led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (St. Louis,
MO), NAABB will develop a systems approach for sustainable commercialization
of algal biofuel (such as renewable gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) and
National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC) (up to $33.8 million) -
Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory, NABC will conduct cutting-edge research to develop infrastructure
compatible, biomass-based hydrocarbon fuels. The R&D strategy includes
investigating six process options:
- catalytic conversion
- catalytic fast pyrolysis
- hydrothermal liquefaction
- low-cost one-step syngas to distillates
Venture Capital also plays an important role, as outlined in the presentation
on Private Equity funding
of advanced biofuels technologies: a European and North American outlook (271
Kb PDF) by New
Energy Finance given at the EBTP Second Stakeholder PLenary Meeting
(SPM2) in January 2008.
The Report US
Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production: Perspectives to 2030 (pdf)
analyzes how growth of an advanced biofuels industry will impact four
areas critical to U.S. economic recovery, including job creation, economic
output, energy security and investment opportunity. The report suggested
that the advanced biofuels industry could create 29,000 new jobs and
create $5.5 billion in economic growth over the next three years and
could ultimatelty create 800,000 new jobs by 2022 with a positive effect
on output of $148.7 billion. In this scenario, the cumulative total of
avoided petroleum imports over the period 2010–2022 would exceed
Biofuel Sustainability in the US
As in Europe, sustainability of biofuels is becoming increasingly important, and is addressed by the EPA and groups such as California Low Carbon Fuel Standards Sustainability Work Group.
US-EC Research Cooperation
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
Fuel Standard Program (RFS2): Final Rule was signed on February
3 2010. This includes thresholds for different biofuel types
and GHG reduction. RFS2, as required by the Energy Independence and Security
Act of 2007, ensures that transportation fuel sold in the United States
contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel. The new requirements increase
the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation
fuel to 36 billion gallons by 2022. The rule was developed in collaboration
with refiners, renewable fuel producers, and many other stakeholders.
Ethanol production in the USA – with an emphasis
related to cellulosic ethanol
In the USA, where ethanol is the preferred biofuel used
at a 10% blend, the rise in oil prices generated an ever increasing interest
in ethanol production in early 2008. This reflected an initial increased
optimism following the passing of the Energy
Independence & Security
Act of December 2007.
This comprehensive energy legislation amends the Renewable Fuels Standard
(RFS) of 2005, and anticipates bioethanol production in the US reaching
36 billion gallons in 2022. Of this, 16 billion gallons are expected to
come from cellulosic feedstocks. By 2016, the total renewable fuels produced
will be around 20 billion gallons. From then on, all of the increase in
the RFS target must be met by advanced biofuels.
These are defined as cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels derived from
feedstock excluding corn starch.
At the same time the 2008 Farm
passed in May, reduces the 51¢ per-gallon incentive for ethanol to
45¢ per gallon for calendar year 2009 and thereafter. This links to
the Energy Bill in providing for a new, temporary cellulosic
biofuels production tax credit for up to $1.01 per gallon to help get
these fuels to commercial viability. The credit would be available to December
These developments led to a buoyant position for the fuel
ethanol business in early 2008, with reports of over 100 new
ethanol projects having been initiated or developed further. Of these a
significant number expected to use cellulosic feedstocks such as wood waste,
MSW, baggase and crop residiues as well as possible energy crops such as
switchgrass. A precise figure is difficult to obtain since some proposed
plant do not declare feedstock, whilst other list several options.
For those using raw materials other than potential food
crops, a range of conversion technologies are proposed. These include 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. These processes are at various stages of development,
ranging from pilot to demonstration scale. However, at present there does
not appear to be a commercial scale facility producing bioethanol from
lignocellulose operating in the USA. A number are under development and
could begin production anytime from this year onwards, with several anticipating
start-up in 2009 through 2011.
However, as a result of a downturn in the US economy,
difficulties in the loans market, increasing grain prices and mounting
opposition from environmentalists concerning sustainability and an ever
increasing public concern reflecting the ‘fuel vs food’ debate
an increasing number of projects have been postponed
Another problem in providing a definitive list of processes, companies
that have developed processes and companies that expect to build production
plant is the inherent complexity of the market place as well as the ‘hype’ attached
to some organisation looking to attract investors.
A quick search of the worldwide web provides over 100
such companies, though in a number of cases new companies have emerged
based on technology previous associated with or marketed under a different
name. Of these, 11 have been quoted as having established
plans for cellulosic ethanol projects.
The leaders include Abengoa and Verenium
with demonstration plant due to come on stream in 2008 (see list below).
US Companies with plans for CE plants:
Other companies developing cellulosic ethanol trechnology include:
Verenium (Vercipia). In September 2010 BP Biofuels acquired the Verenium demonstration faclities in Jennings, LA, as well as cellulosic biofuels technology.
ZeaChem Operates an existing 250,000 GPY integrated demonstration biorefinery, at thePort of Morrow, near Boardman, and hasin February 2012 received $12 from USDA to further develop/demonstrate its biorefinery systems.
BlueFire Ethanol Has developed commercial Concentrated Acid Hydrolyisis technology for conversion of cellulosic feedstock to sugars. BlueFire is currently in the process of developing two cellulosic ethanol facilities in Lancaster, California and Fulton, Mississippi.
In addition to the organisations listed above, a number
ethanol plants and pilots operating or under construction in the US,
were summarised by Gas2.0 in
March 2009 [Sources: Biotechnology Industry Organization, individual companies].
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.
Biomass Energy information
Renewable Energy laboratory
Forest Service Research & Development
Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
National Biodiesel Board