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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.

Renewable Fuels Standard Graph

Renewable Fuels Standards chart, courtesy of North Dakota Ethanol Council

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.

Green gasCellulosic 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.

Read the full report of Great Plains Energy Corridor Spotlight on North Dakota Energy and request a hard copy here.

You may be interested in:
North Dakota Ethanol Council
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Renewable Fuels Standard Program
Renewable Fuels Association

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