Biogas is an attractive feedstock to make renewable fuels. Also known as “biomethane”, “renewable natural gas”, or “RNG”, biogas has many advantages.
- is made from waste products,
- has a low GHG emissions footprint,
- is available in most places where there is human activity,
- has the potential for large scale renewable fuel production
- does not compete with food supply,
- is a relatively low cost form of renewable energy,
- can be transported in existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure, and
- is approved by many governments as a qualified feedstock for making qualified renewable biofuels
Biogas is an excellent feedstock for transportation fuel as compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) , or for conversion to higher value fuels such as renewable hydrogen (“RH”), methanol, DME, Fischer-Tropsch Diesel, or renewable gasoline.
Iogen’s biogas-related expertise derives from our longstanding commitment to developing innovative solutions that enable widespread commercialization of cellulosic biofuel production:
- Our cellulosic ethanol process produces biogas as a by-product;
- we have deep expertise in renewable fuels policy, markets, and compliance;
- we have developed strategic relationships with oil refiners;
- we have extensive understanding in a wide range of biofuel processing technologies;
- we have specialized experience developing and financing renewable energy projects; and
We also have a number of issued and pending patents relating to transportation fuels from biogas. In one key innovation, we pioneered the use of refineries to incorporate biogas-derived renewable hydrogen as renewable content in conventional gasoline and diesel fuels.
We now offer biogas producers solutions that increase the value they can derive from their existing or planned biogas projects.
We also offer obligated parties solutions that can decrease the cost of compliance and increase the value they derive from their existing assets.
Biogas is produced from landfills or digesters, injected into a connected distribution system carrying natural gas, then an equivalent volume is withdrawn at a hydrogen production facility serving a refinery. The withdrawn gas is fed to the existing hydrogen plant, displacing a portion of fossil natural gas that would have been used as feedstock for hydrogen production. The amount of renewable hydrogen (RH) produced is equal to the total hydrogen production times the percentage of the feedstock energy that is related to energy derived from biogas.
2) 'Transportation use' of the RH
The RH is then transferred to into transportation fuel so as to replace or reduce the quantity of fossil fuels present in transportation fuel, using the same accepted methodology as for pipeline transfers of biogas. The RH produced is injected into a connected distribution system carrying hydrogen, then an equivalent amount of hydrogen gas is withdrawn at a hydrogen-using unit within a refinery. The withdrawn hydrogen is incorporated into transportation fuel, displacing an equal amount of fossil fuel derived non-renewable hydrogen that would have been incorporated in the finished fuel. The resulting conventional gasoline or diesel thus contains a quantity of RH as renewable cellulosic biofuel content.
There are many advantages to renewable hydrogen as a cellulosic biofuel:
1) Drop-in cellulosic biofuel
Makes a “drop-in” fuel that can be used in today’s distribution systems and cars, reducing the barriers to implementation. Drop-in fuels are widely recognized as being preferable over fuels that require special vehicles or special distribution networks. The absence of drop-in biofuels is often cited as a primary barrier to adoption.
2) Proven technology
Does not involve substantial technology risk because all elements of the process are already proven and in operation at large scale.
3) Benefits without negative consequences
RH is one of the few biofuels that achieves the intended sustainability and GHG emissions benefits without making existing refineries and distribution assets obsolete.
4) Can unlock huge potential
There are large cellulosic biogas resources; a recent study estimated the potential as 3.5 billion gallons/year. However, to get fuels to customers, there needs to be sufficient infrastructure. EIA reports that the infrastructure currently available for CNG/LNG distribution handles about 0.4 billion gallons/year. Iogen commissioned studies indicate that the existing capacity for RH generation and incorporation is about 7 billion gallons/year.
5) Enables refiners’ assets to be part of the solution
To date, refiners have, for the most part, not participated in cellulosic biofuel production. RH would make refiners assets part of the cellulosic biofuel supply chain, and thus increase the likelihood of refiner adoption of cellulosic biofuels. Participation by refiners could open up capital for expansion of cellulosic biofuels, and accelerate their adoption.
The regulatory status of Renewable Hydrogen is as follows:
- California Air Resources Board (CARB) is expecting to approve RH for LCFS credit generation in 2015. CARB has issued a proposed 15 day regulation order with rules governing LCFS credit generation by refiners.
- EPA has not yet approved RH for generation of D3 RINs. Iogen is working with stakeholders to realize approval of a new pathway petition for RH under EPA’s RFS2 pathway petition process.