North Dakota Energy Spotlight – Biofuels and Renewable Energy Standards
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), requiring 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into gasoline by 2012. In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act expanded the RFS program by requiring 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be used in transportation fuel by 2022. The renewable fuels allowed include traditional ethanol and other biofuels and biodiesels.
• Conventional biofuel – liquid fuel derived from fermentations of sugars (derived from sugar or starch rich crops, like corn) or esterification of fatty acids (derived from vegetable oil or animal fat). The process is relatively simple and the most common liquid biofuels are grain ethanol and biodiesel.
• Advanced biofuel – liquid fuel derived from a biochemical process of renewable biomass. Liquid biofuels produced from sustainable plant residues, as opposed to food grains, such as wood waste or grasses, form this category.
• Cellulosic ethanol – liquid fuel derived by first extracting the sugars by breaking down the complex cellulosic structure of cellulosic feedstock to simple sugars chemically by hydrolysis reaction and then fermenting the sugar to ethanol. The process is more complicated and influenced by feedstock characteristics compared to starch-based grain ethanol. Examples: ethanol from wood chips, grasses, crop biomass.
• Biodiesel – an ester made by chemically combined fatty acids and alcohol, having properties similar to petroleum diesel fuel. Fatty acids can be derived from vegetable oils or animal fat and the alcohol is usually methanol.
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