Getting to Know the Competition

By | February 11, 2008
I'm not sure which came first, renewable diesel or green diesel, but it's likely that both alternative fuels will be competing with biodiesel on a global scale in a very short time. We think it's vital to keep Biodiesel Magazine readers informed about these contending biofuels, especially while the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 is being defined.

Renewable diesel became a hot topic in our industry last spring when the Internal Revenue Service ruled that virtually any biomass process using heat was "thermal depolymerization," and fuels derived from such processes should be eligible for the $1-per-gallon blender's tax credit. Then, green diesel produced through hydroprocessing made headlines, and that's when many of us started scratching our heads. Sure, we could explain that biodiesel is produced through a process of transesterification-the blended reaction of triglycerides and alcohol in the presence of a catalyst at a low temperature and pressure, creating a biofuel that is one-tenth oxygen by weight. Beyond that, however, most of us were unable to succinctly explain how renewable diesel and green diesel were made, and how they stood up to biodiesel. The passage of a new 36 billion-gallon renewable fuels standard (RFS) was a wake-up call compelling us to make sense of it all.

Biomass-based diesel is one of several fuel categories defined in the RFS. A carve-out for biomass-based diesel (a subsection of the advanced biofuels category) begins at 500 million gallons in 2009 and should surpass a 1 billion-gallon floor in 2012. The bill specifically states that renewable fuel derived from coprocessing biomass with a petroleum feedstock qualifies as an advanced biofuel but not as a biomass-based diesel.

While the IRS completes its rulemaking on the RFS, experts are sounding off. One of this month's features, "Defining the Alternatives," on page 40 explores some of those
unanswered and questionably defined differences among biodiesel, renewable diesel and green diesel. One expert suggests that the IRS too loosely defined thermal depolymerization, while another points out a lack of understanding about the fuels' fundamental differences. Brian Appel, chief executive officer of Changing World Technologies Inc., a renewable diesel company, tell us that hydroprocessing high-cost feedstocks makes more sense than putting them through a thermal depolymerization process.

Furthermore, the story points out that some processes tagged as thermal depolymerization are actually misnamed, stand-alone, coprocessed hydroprocessing methods. The experts we talked to were also sure to mention that neither thermal depolymerization nor hydroprocessing is free from the challenges that biodiesel endures (fuel quality, input costs, etc.).

The story provides a good starting point for readers who want to better understand the differences and similarities among biodiesel rivals. Regardless of how these fuels are made-hydroprocessed, thermally depolymerized, coprocessed or pushed through a stand-alone facility-it's clear that biodiesel will go head-to-head with them in the near future. We'll let you know what to expect.
Array ( [REDIRECT_REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [HTTP_USER_AGENT] => CCBot/2.0 ( [HTTP_ACCEPT] => text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 [HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE] => en-US,en;q=0.5 [HTTP_IF_MODIFIED_SINCE] => Sun, 18 Aug 2019 11:34:53 EDT [HTTP_HOST] => [HTTP_CONNECTION] => Keep-Alive [HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING] => gzip [PATH] => /sbin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/usr/bin [SERVER_SIGNATURE] =>
Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) Server at Port 80
[SERVER_SOFTWARE] => Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) [SERVER_NAME] => [SERVER_ADDR] => [SERVER_PORT] => 80 [REMOTE_ADDR] => [DOCUMENT_ROOT] => /datadrive/websites/ [SERVER_ADMIN] => [SCRIPT_FILENAME] => /datadrive/websites/ [REMOTE_PORT] => 46316 [REDIRECT_QUERY_STRING] => url=articles/2091/getting-to-know-the-competition [REDIRECT_URL] => /app/webroot/articles/2091/getting-to-know-the-competition [GATEWAY_INTERFACE] => CGI/1.1 [SERVER_PROTOCOL] => HTTP/1.1 [REQUEST_METHOD] => GET [QUERY_STRING] => url=articles/2091/getting-to-know-the-competition [REQUEST_URI] => /articles/2091/getting-to-know-the-competition [SCRIPT_NAME] => /app/webroot/index.php [PHP_SELF] => /app/webroot/index.php [REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT] => 1575877084.265 [REQUEST_TIME] => 1575877084 )