FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Advances the Future of Sustainable Fuels in American Aviation

New Actions Aim to Produce Three Billion Gallons of Sustainable Fuel, Reduce Aviation Emissions by 20% by 2030, and Grow Good-Paying, Union Jobs

Today, President Biden is taking steps to coordinate leadership and innovation across the federal government, aircraft manufacturers, airlines, fuel producers, airports, and non-governmental organizations to advance the use of cleaner and more sustainable fuels in American aviation. These steps will help make progress toward our climate goals for 2030 and are essential to unlocking the potential for a fully zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050. Today’s executive actions across the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Agriculture, Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the General Services Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency will result in the production and use of billions of gallons of sustainable fuel that will enable aviation emissions to drop 20% by 2030 when compared to business as usual. Together with President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, these new agency steps and industry partnerships will transform the aviation sector, create good-paying jobs, support American agriculture and manufacturing, and help us tackle the climate crisis…

Fuel Providers Will Scale Up SAF Production

Current levels of domestic SAF production are approximately 4.5 million gallons per year, with the industry poised to grow rapidly. To meet the challenge of scaling up to billions of gallons over a decade, both policy support and producer commitments will be critical to driving domestic innovation and deployment. Scaling up domestic SAF production will involve a wide variety of different feedstocks and pathways, and the industry will continue to explore a diverse set of options, including the potential to convert biofuels such as ethanol into jet fuel. To help achieve our 2030 goals, several fuel providers have announced domestic SAF production targets:

  • … Additional recent and new announcements of potential SAF production scale-up include those from BP, Virent, Honeywell, Shell, Neste, Marquis, Green Plains Inc., ADM, Prometheus, Aemetis, and members of the Renewable Fuels Association and members of Growth Energy.

– whitehouse.gov, Briefing Room

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Branching Out

Aemetis’ refinery will produce renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel from almond orchard and forest wood waste, which will also yield a negative carbon sugar source for ethanol. The Keyes, California, plant is also ditching fossil-based power.

Eric McAfee, CEO of Aemetis, says the markets for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel are strong. The diesel market—and by association, the renewable diesel buildout—continued to gain momentum during the pandemic, with brisk trucking volume tied to the booming and irreversible phenomenon of consumer goods home delivery. “Renewable diesel is in high demand. Aviation fuels likewise,” he says. “It’s a 79 billion gallon market worldwide.”

And that’s good news for the company, as progress on its Carbon Zero One plant, a renewable diesel and SAF (i.e., biojet fuel) refinery continues. “We already announced the engineering for the process phase, and the engineer for the construction phase is next,” McAfee says, explaining that engineering and permitting work will continue as project financing is finalized before construction. “We’re at the end of the development phase.”

The plant will use almond orchard waste, as well as forest waste wood, from California, which McAfee says will help keep the plant’s carbon intensity (CI) score low. The unique feedstock also ends up being a benefit for Aemetis’ corn ethanol plant in Keyes, California, as sugar from the renewable diesel plant’s waste wood will be extracted for use in producing ethanol.

“If you can take sugar from a carbon negative 100 waste wood, and you have positive 50 carbon intensity sugar that comes from corn, which one are you going to make more money on, the corn or the waste wood?” McAfee says. “Then factor on top of that the waste wood is very low cost. It’s one tenth the cost of the sugar.” He adds that with the cost savings on the feedstock, and the premiums received from California’s LCFS, every 10 percent of production that uses the waste orchard wood as a feedstock generates $30 million. “That’s linear, so 20 percent is $60 million, 30 percent is $90 million, and 100 percent is $300 million. That doesn’t fade as you get more feedstock.” Those returns are possible because the feedstock is carbon negative.”

– Ethanol Producer Magazine, Matt Thompson

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News Center From Smoky Skies to a Green Horizon: Scientists Convert Fire-Risk Wood into Biofuel

A simplified new process transforms wood waste from agriculture and forest management into ethanol

Reliance on petroleum fuels and raging wildfires: Two separate, large-scale challenges that could be addressed by one scientific breakthrough.

Teams from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Sandia National Laboratories have collaborated to develop a streamlined and efficient process for converting woody plant matter like forest overgrowth and agricultural waste – material that is currently burned either intentionally or unintentionally – into liquid biofuel. Their research was published recently in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

“According to a recent report, by 2050 there will be 38 million metric tons of dry woody biomass available each year, making it an exceptionally abundant carbon source for biofuel production,” said Carolina Barcelos, a senior process engineer at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU).

However, efforts to convert woody biomass to biofuel are typically hindered by the intrinsic properties of wood that make it very difficult to break down chemically, added ABPDU research scientist Eric Sundstrom. ”Our two studies detail a low-cost conversion pathway for biomass sources that would otherwise be burned in the field or in slash piles, or increase the risk and severity of seasonal wildfires. We have the ability to transform these renewable carbon sources from air pollution and fire hazards into a sustainable fuel.”

… The Berkeley Lab teams are working with Aemetis, an advanced renewable fuels and biochemicals company based in the Bay Area, to commercialize the technology and launch it at larger scales once the pilot phase is complete.

– Berkeley Lab News Center, Aliyah Kovner

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The Hand Sanitizer Market: a salvation for beleaguered ethanol producers, or not?

If you’ve not heard, NuGenTec is looking for Distillers to help supply Ethanol for Hand Sanitizers in California! We have two automated bottling lines waiting for ethanol to produce 8oz and 16oz gel type hand sanitizers, they write. You can learn more here.

And as we reported this morning, Aemetis is one of those companies jumping into the market, even as transport fuel demand falls off, driving fuel ethanol prices into an all-time low range of around $0.70 per gallon.

The shortage is real

If you’ve been trying to buy hand-sanitizer, it’s been hard to find. Here in Digestville, we’ve been making our own from 25 percent Aloe Vera and 75 percent rubbing alcohol. Most authorities have emphasized a 2:1 alcohol to Aloe Vera ratio, but Aloe Vera has also been hard to find near Digest HQ. On Friday, a shipment arrived but it was the industrial bags that go in large dispensers at offices and hospitals, not the individual spray bottle variety.

– Biofuels Digest, Jim Lane

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California Company Gets Early Start on Hand Sanitizer Production

When news of a potential pandemic arrived in January, the management team at Aemetis knew that the domestic capacity of high-grade alcohol for hand sanitizer would not suffice in meeting the needs of Americans. So, they prepared to perform a complete overhaul of operational standards that allowed them to produce ethyl alcohol for hand sanitizer. As U.S. COVID-19 cases began to rise in mid-March, Aemetis was ready to respond. The company shipped alcohol for hand sanitizer to its first customer on March 30.

“In late January, we made the decision to prepare for a health-related pandemic,” said Eric McAfee, CEO of Aemetis. “We knew that the current domestic production capacity of seventeen billion gallons per year of fuel-grade alcohol had only a small percentage of medical grade alcohol that would not be adequate to produce what just the United States’ population would require. Fortunately, we had the team and mechanisms in place to prepare for an upgrade of our ethanol production plant quickly. We were able to form relationships with hand sanitizer producers to begin shipping product almost immediately after the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the FDA provided specific exemptions and guidance for fuel ethanol producers on March 27.”

– Renewable Fuels Association

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Aemetis awarded $4.1 million for biogas upgrading facility

US biotech company Aemetis has been awarded a $4.1 million (€3.7 million) grant to construct a biogas upgrading facility. Aemetis’ subsidiary company, Aemetis Biogas, received the grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

The new facility will convert dairy biogas to renewable natural gas (RNG) as a final processing step after biogas is delivered via pipeline from anaerobic digesters that Aemetis is building in California. The company is building more than a dozen anaerobic digesters at local dairies in Stanislaus and Merced Counties, with plans to expand in the future.

– Bioenergy Insight

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The Versatile Ethanol Molecule

FROM THE FEBRUARY ISSUE: Ethylene, with a similar molecular structure to that of ethanol, has enormous market opportunity around the world.

Knock a water molecule off ethanol and you’ll get ethylene, C2H4—the most widely produced organic chemical globally that is the basis for scores of other chemicals and hundreds (maybe thousands) of products, from antifreeze and surfactants to synthetic fibers, plastics and packaging. Global ethylene production in 2016 was greater than 150 million metric tons, with more than half going to produce polyethylene.

The biggest problem for ethanol producers is that virtually all of that ethylene currently is produced from either crude oil-based naptha or natural gas-based ethane, with shale gas promising to be the lowest-cost feedstock for years to come in the U.S.

– Susanne Retka Schill, Ethanol Producer Magazine

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Man with the Plan – Millions Projected for New Projects: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Aemetis’ Multi-Million $ Dairy Biogas and Wood Waste Plants

Aemetis is known for their advanced renewable fuels by many, like their California ethanol plant and India biodiesel plant, but what you may now know is that they are building a $56 million dairy biogas digesters, pipeline and cleanup system and a $200 million cellulosic ethanol plant that will use waste orchard wood feedstock. The dairy biogas system in California is expected to generate $25 million per year of EBITDA by the end of 2020 and the waste wood ethanol plant, also in sunny California, is expected to generate $85 million in revenues and $50+ million in annual EBITDA.

Eric McAfee, Founder/Chairman/CEO of Aemetis is a man with a plan and gave this enlightening overview of their latest projects, growth, and vision for the future at ABLC NEXT in San Francisco.

Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest

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USCIS urged to approve foreign investment in Aemetis project

A federal lawmaker from California is slamming the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for its mishandling of an application submitted by Aemetis Inc. regarding foreign investment for its proposed Riverbank cellulosic ethanol project.

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif., issued a statement Aug. 29 criticizing the USCIS for its incompetence in handling Aemetis’s application for its Riverside project, which is expected to bring 2,000 jobs to its local community. According to Harder, Aemetis is planning to open the Riverbank biorefinery but is reliant on foreign investments to afford initial construction. USCIS is required to approve such applications, but the agency appears to have lost paperwork and ultimately denied approval of the application without explanation. Harder has met with White House staff regarding the request and sought several updates from the agency, according to his office.

Aemetis requested a formal National Interest Expedite for its project in December 2018. In January, the company received a rejection notice which indicated the project would undergo a standard extended review. In April, Aemetis received a request for the original application, implying the paperwork had been lost by USCIS and no review had been conducted over the past five months. Aemetis filed another NIE request, but was denied a second time in June without explanation. In addition to apparently losing paperwork, Harder’s office said USCIS has failed to notify Aemetis of updates in a timely manner.

– Erin Voegele, Biomass Magazine

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