The California Air Resources Board approved the use of biodiesel to lower nitrogen oxide emissions as part of its revised Low Carbon Fuels Standard.
The overall standard requires a 10 percent reduction in carbon intensity of transportation fuels within the next five years, focusing on a decreased use of petroleum each year to help achieve a 40-percent reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2030. Technology eyed by CARB include zero-emission electric and hydrogen vehicles.
But the revised standard paves the bridge to zero-emissions with bio blends, which CARB said its analysis reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 to as much as 81 percent compared to normal diesel. The regulation also establishes requirements and fuel specifications for biodiesel to ensure that NOx do not increase and instead decrease.
Five years ago, the U.S. EPA established the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that categorizes biodiesel qualifies as an “Advanced Biofuel.” At the time, EPA's analysis indicated that biodiesel can reduce carbon emissions from 57 percent to 86 percent.
The National Biodiesel Board added that this emissions reduction gives biodiesel the best carbon score among all liquid fuels and makes it the best “pathway” to reaching carbon reduction goals.
“California’s analysis, which has been validated by independent academic review, provides confidence that biodiesel is, without question, a more sustainable alternative for transportation fuel,” said Don Scott, director of sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board. “The commercial success of the growing biodiesel industry suggests goals to further reduce greenhouse gases and displace imported petroleum are appropriate and achievable. With a focus on carbon reduction and the national policy to support it, biodiesel could reduce carbon emission by 40 million tons annually.”
Meanwhile, CARB said its revised standard dictates that fuel incurs deficits if it above the annual carbon intensity. If a product is below that target, the fuel generates credits, which may be used later for compliance or sold to other producers who have deficits. CARB added that, so far, fuel producers are over-complying with the regulation.
As part of the state’s new standard, CARB said it also refined comprehensive life-cycle analysis to quantify the carbon intensity of conventional and alternative fuels. More than seven years of analysis have gone into addressing questions including indirect land use change.
The National Biodiesel Board said California’s life-cycle model incorporates all the impacts for producing a fuel’s raw materials including conversion and transportation. It added that the model also includes the indirect economic impacts of growth in global agriculture-making it "one of the most thorough and rigorous evaluations ever done to quantify the environmental footprint of biofuels."