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National Biodiesel Conference & Expo

“There were a number of milestones reached in 2016 that will have a significant and very positive impact on the biodiesel industry,” Don Scott, director of sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board, said during a concluding session of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo at the San Diego Convention Center.

Led by Don O’Connor, a Vancouver-based international expert on greenhouse-gas emissions, members of a panel during the closing session detailed efforts that spanned from increased municipal use of biodiesel to the Paris Climate Agreement that aims to significantly reduce global carbon emissions.

Simon Mui, director of California’s Fuels, Energy and Transportation Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, praised the enactment of that state’s latest climate change law that expands on its landmark 2006 legislation which set the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. With that goal well on its way to being achieved, the new legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September seeks to reduce emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

“Biodiesel and renewable diesel are leading credit generators under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and their presence is expected to continue growing with the expansion of this landmark policy,” Scott said.

Oregon followed California’s lead in 2016 by enacting its own Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Jana Gastellum, Program Director of Climate at the Oregon Environmental Council, said the state seeks to reduce the average carbon intensity of Oregon’s transportation fuels by 10 percent over a 10-year period. And again, biodiesel will be playing a leading role in the state’s efforts.

Conference attendees also heard from Keith Kerman, deputy commissioner and chief fleet officer for New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Last year, New York City enacted legislation that to incrementally increase the amount of biodiesel that displaces conventional petroleum heating oil. Kerman discussed how the city’s entire diesel fleet – the largest municipal fleet in the country – has converted to B20.

Earlier in the conference, Dave Slade, executive director, biofuel technology and services, Renewable Energy Group, Ames, Iowa, gave a presentation on renewable hydrocarbon diesel, “explaining what it is, how it’s different from biodiesel, and [giving] an overview of how we make it and what the finished product is,” he said in a company-produced video. Slade said his goal was to reach potential customers, and educate them about the benefits of the fuel “so they’re willing to pay a bit of a premium.” He also wanted to reach regulators who work for states or municipalities, to inform them about the characteristics and benefits of the fuel, Slade said.

Renewable diesel, also called “green” diesel, is a biomass-derived transportation fuel suitable for use in diesel engines, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center states on its website. It meets the ASTM D975 specification in the United States and EN 590 in Europe.

Renewable diesel is distinct from biodiesel, the Center notes. While renewable diesel is chemically similar to petroleum diesel, biodiesel is a mono-alkyl ester, which has different physical properties and hence different fuel specifications (ASTM D6751 and EN 14214), the Center states on its website. The two fuels are also produced through very different processes.

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