Fiscal Deal A Boost For Biofuels

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Incentives for biofuel development in the new "fiscal cliff" bill -- also known as the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" -- could help the industry to move forward in 2013, advocates say. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, provisions in the bill should lead to "a year of growth and milestones for the advanced ethanol industry." Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board, said the incentives in the bill will have "real economic impacts with companies expanding production and hiring new employees." Meanwhile, a project by two companies to produce a "100-percent drop-in alternative aviation fuel" for jet and diesel engines won an industry award as "Best New Fuel of 2012."

The Renewable Fuels Association said a partnership between ARA (Applied Research Associates) and Chevron Lummus Global has produced, for the first time, a renewable 100-percent drop-in aviation fuel. The fuel was used in the first 100-percent biofuel jet flight, which was conducted in Canada late last year. The continuing flight testing is a "key step towards certification," said the RFA. The companies' patented process uses water as a catalyst to convert plant oils into products that are "very similar to petroleum crude oil," according to a news release from ARA and Chevron. Further processing creates renewable fuels that are "100 percent replacements for petroleum-based jet and diesel fuel" that meet all specifications for ASTM and military quality, the companies said.