The EPA’s announcement is significant in allowing the domestic production of advanced biofuels from grain sorghum as envisioned in the 2007 Energy Bill. National Sorghum Producers has worked closely with EPA for 34 months to establish a biofuels pathway for grain sorghum-based ethanol in the RFS.
“This is a great day for the U.S. sorghum industry,” said NSP Chairman Terry Swanson, a sorghum grower from Walsh, Colorado, U.S. “NSP has worked tirelessly for more than two years to make this happen. A pathway for grain sorghum as an advanced biofuel not only incentivizes ethanol plants to use grain sorghum as a biofuel feedstock, but it also adds value and profitability for the producer.”
In June, the EPA released a notice of data availability (NODA) concerning renewable fuels produced from grain sorghum under the RFS program, followed by a 30-day comment period. EPA’s analysis showed grain sorghum, when used to make ethanol at facilities that use natural gas, has a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction of 32%, qualifying it as conventional ethanol. This will give individual ethanol plants the ability to finalize their qualification process to produce advanced biofuels. NSP expects at least one existing ethanol plant to qualify very soon.
According to EPA, when grain sorghum is used to make ethanol at facilities that use biogas digesters in combination with combined heat and power technology, it achieves a lifecycle GHG emissions reduction of 53%, qualifying it as an advanced biofuel feedstock under the RFS.
Unfortunately, carbon dioxide capture was not included in the pathway. NSP will continue working with the EPA to get this completed to allow even more ethanol plants to produce advanced biofuels domestically.