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 Not All Biofuels Are Created Equal
Posted by justin on Mar 01, 2008
General Interest
The Register-Guard: EditorialsLetters: Commentary
Guest Viewpoint

By Ian Hill
Published: February 26, 2008 04:38AM


In response to recent articles claiming that the use of biofuel leads to increases in greenhouse gas emissions: Not all biofuels are created equal. The biodiesel and ethanol sold through our SeQuential retail station in Eugene is some of the most sustainably produced fuel currently available in the country.

The SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel, or SQPB, production plant in Salem uses recycled cooking oil from sources such as Kettle Foods, Burgerville and local
restaurants. The SQPB facility, Oregon’s only commercial biodiesel plant, produces the lowest-carbon biodiesel available.
A small but growing percentage of the SQPB facility uses Oregon-grown canola
oil that is planted as a rotational crop with wheat. Canola is typically grown one year in four to enhance soil quality, break pest cycles and increase wheat yields.

Biodiesel from tropical palm oil, a source identified as contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, does not satisfy either the statewide Oregon Renewable Fuels Standard for biodiesel or the city of Portland’s Renewable Fuels Standard for biodiesel.

It is important to note that the SQPB facility’s technology can efficiently produce high-quality biodiesel from a wide range of vegetable oils. That gives SQPB the ability to adapt to new sources of oil as they develop. Such sources include certain types of algae, which are the most efficient photosynthetic producers of oil on the planet and can be grown using agricultural and municipal waste streams.

The majority of the ethanol that is sold through our retail station comes from
Pacific Ethanol’s facility in the north-central Oregon town of Boardman. This
facility does use corn as its primary ethanol feedstock. What makes the Boardman
facility different is that it uses about 30 percent less energy than most contemporary ethanol production facilities. It does this by selling most of its wet distiller grains (the main byproduct of ethanol production) directly into a local livestock feed market.

Another item of interest about Pacific’s Boardman facility is that it recently
received a federal Department of Energy grant to build a pilot-scale cellulose-to-ethanol production facility. This facility will focus on technology allowing the production of ethanol from local agricultural waste, such as wheat straw, corn waste and wood chips.

On a county level, research projects are under way that are looking at a variety of renewable energy sources. Such potential sources include anaerobic digestion
using food waste for energy production, and technology for converting carbon based waste into different forms of usable energy — such as butanol (a gasoline
replacement).

These examples of Oregon-made biofuels are derived from raw materials that do
not compete with food-producing acres. As a result, these biofuels reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by 40 percent to 80 percent compared to standard
petroleum-based fuels.

Oregon (and the Pacific Northwest) leads the nation with our use of high blends of biodiesel, specifically B99 (99.9 percent biodiesel). Oregon and Washington have the largest markets in the country for retail biodiesel.

Vehicle fleets operated by such governments and businesses as the city of Eugene, the city of Portland, Rexius, Sanipac, Pepsi, the Lane Transit District and Tri-Met have proved that they are willing to vote with their dollars to support Oregon-made biofuel. That kind of support is critical to building a better, localized biofuel industry. From governments to businesses to individuals, the Northwest leads the way.

The work to build a localized, cleaner, sustainable energy economy requires
incremental steps, not overnight miracles. Our company is named SeQuential for
this reason. There is no panacea to our energy crisis. Rather, we need a diversity of solutions to be pursued simultaneously: conservation, electric vehicles, public transit, cycling and walking.

As a company, we are committed to helping build an Oregon-based, lower-carbon
biofuel industry that produces cleaner, renewable fuels while supporting our local economy. SeQuential can do this only in partnership with our customers.

Ian Hill is a co-founder of SeQuential Biofuels, an Oregon-based company that
provides biofuel blends for all types of vehicles.

Copyright © 2007 — The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA
 
 
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