Pennsylvania paves way for biodiesel growth

By Bryan Sims | January 01, 2008
Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell introduced a $10 million development grant to initiate local biofuel research and development that would help to meet the state's renewable energy demands. The grant supports 24 local biodiesel projects that would replace about 95 million gallons of petroleum diesel. The grant is part of the governor's Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program that would leverage another $108 million in private investment. The grant program will also help to achieve Rendell's state goal established under his PennSecurity Fuels Initiative to produce and consume nearly 1 billion gallons of biofuel by 2017.

The PennSecurity Fuels Initiative would enact a statewide B2 mandate once in-state biodiesel production reaches 30 million gallons with incremental increases up to 20 percent once annual production capacity reaches 300 million gallons.

One notable biodiesel project is being headed by specialty materials company Rohm and Haas, which was awarded $752,000 to demonstrate its trademarked and patent-pending Amberlyst BD20, a novel polymeric catalyst technology that would convert free fatty acids in low-quality biodiesel feedstocks into biodiesel. The technology would expand the list of available feedstocks, giving biodiesel producers greater flexibility and increased volumes. Rohm and Haas intends to build a mobile, pilot-scale facility that would be made available for trials at other established biodiesel plants in Pennsylvania.

"We're really excited because we believe that this technology is a good one for the biodiesel industry," said Rohm and Haas Process Chemicals Research Manager Rajiv Banavali. "I think we're bringing it at the right time when the industry is really looking for cheaper raw materials."

In addition to supporting technology advancements, the alternative fuel grants also provide financial incentives to would-be producers. The program awards 5 cents per gallon to Pennsylvania biodiesel producers, up to 12.5 MMgy.

To learn more about Pennsylvania's biofuel initiatives, visit
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