Is this feedstock approved for use in biodiesel, ethanol, heating oil, or other renewable fuels? This is a question constantly posed to feedstock experts. To answer it, lets start with the basics. RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) are the 38 digit serial number assigned to every gallon of renewable transportation fuel. Ranging from biogas, to ethanol, to biodiesel, these RINS cover a wide varying range of feedstocks and production methods. There are different assigned RIN categories covering certain renewables from certain feedstocks, like these:
D3 RINs represent cellulosic biofuel: switchgrass, miscanthus, crop residue, food waste, cover crops, tree residue, renewable compressed natural gas;
D4 RINs – biomass based diesel: soybean oil, oil from algae, waste from oil, fats, grasses, jet fuel, heating oil, canola oil, rapeseed oil;
D5 RINs – advance biofuels: sugarcane ethanol, grain sorghum, biogas from waste digesters, non-cellulosic portions of food waste and cover crops;
D6 RINs – renewable fuels: sorghum ethanol using dry mill process, corn starch ethanol, butanol, starches from crop residue and cover crops;
D7 RINs represent cellulosic diesel: any process that converts cellulosic biomass to fuel to make cellulosic diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil using crop residue, switch grass, yard waste, cellulosic food waste and cellulosic cover crops.
So, is your feedstock approved for use in biodiesel, ethanol heating oil, or other renewable fuels? In the past, the answer may have been very different than it is now. What’s changed? The RIN market has changed and it now makes a big difference. Let’s say you have a good virgin oil that is at a great price but it is not approved to produce Advanced Fuel or create a D4 or D5 RIN. In the past, when renewable fuel RINS (D6 – same as corn ethanol) were worth a fraction of the value of the D4 RIN I would answer that there was no economic reason to process the unqualified oil. This was because the biodiesel RIN was valued much higher than the D6 RIN. That is not necessarily true today. What does that mean for your plant? It means that you can process a variety of renewable feedstocks and make them into biodiesel and renewable diesel and earn very close to what you would make processing the classic feedstocks approved by the EPA for Advanced Fuels. With enough of a discount you can process almost any oil and generate valuable D6 RINs.
Even with an unqualified feedstock you still may be able to generate 1.5 RINS for biodiesel and the 1.6-1.7 RINS for renewable diesel (depending on the heat content). When using these other renewable feedstocks, you will have to check to make sure your plant is registered to use them. If your plant is not registered to use these feedstocks, Lee Enterprises can assist you in applying for additional feedstocks and can refer you to buyers for the biodiesel and renewable diesels made from these feedstocks.
A good bioeconomy consulting group will have experts in feedstocks, RINS, Low Carbon Fuels Standards (LCFS), Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) and carbon credits. Large renewable energy and biochemical consulting firms will certainly have experts in more common areas like biofuels, biomaterials, biomass, biomass power, biomaterials, bio-based chemicals, biotechnologies and renewable fuels and chemicals in general. Energy consultants should be willing to discuss client’s initial questions about renewable energy sources, the types of biofuels, biofuel companies, synthetic biology, the fermentation process, biomass renewable energy, biofuel energy, conversion technologies for things like tires and railroad ties, and about the circular economy in general. These clean energy experts would optimally be part of a larger, multidisciplinary group of green energy consultants with a wide variety of expertise in more specialized areas like biomass production, financial due diligence, organic synthesis, fuel additives, ethanol gas, biodiesel fuel including algae biofuels, solid state and industrial fermentation, green energy grants, ag biotech, agricultural waste, alcohol fuels, alternative proteins and animal-free products, sustainable foods, beverage fermentation, , biocatalysis, biodiesel conversion, biogas production, biomass power, carbon intensity, co2 utilization, combined heat & power, Fischer-Tropsch technology, food waste, hydrothermal carbonization, industrial enzymes, landfill management, microbial fermentation, organic synthesis, plastic pyrolysis, plastic recycling, plastic waste, pyrolysis oil, reactor design, renewable identification number, the Renewable Fuel Standard (rfs2), solid recovered fuels, torrefaction and torrified biomass, waste to energy, and waste-to-hydrogen. Finally, members and strategic partners of these green energy consulting firms should also have the availability to do things like engineering, technical feasibility studies and techno-economic analysis, due diligence, and feasibility studies, and provide expert witness testimony, and should have the contacts to assist with renewable energy finance, accounting, plant safety and insurance, legal, and virtually any other services related to the bioeconomy.
Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s premier bioeconomy consulting group, with over 100 highly qualified experts serving in all these areas. Take a look at our experts and the services we provide. Most of our experts are also available to advise and serve as expert witnesses in bioeconomy litigation matters. For the larger projects, we specialize in putting together full service, interdisciplinary teams with one point of contact. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information. See also Biofuels Co Products and Feedstock Experts.