Endpoint: Biofuel Standards

The January 31 issue of IBO reported on the analytical technologies used for biofuel research and production. In December 2007, a white paper on internationally compatible biofuel standards was published by a tripartite task force made up of biofuel experts, including those from Brazil’s National Institute of Metrology, Standardization, and Industrial Quality (INMETRO), the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The paper makes suggestions for harmonizing standards between the three governments in order to promote eventual global standards for biofuels. The paper focuses on biodiesel and bioethanol, the two biofuels currently sold on the market.

The report finds that international standards for bioethanol are significantly more harmonized than those for biodiesel. This is in part due to the fact that bioethanol is a single compound, while biodiesel is often the product of a number of different feedstocks. Different biodiesel standards can be attributed to the wider use of diesel-engine passenger vehicles in the EU. The white paper distinguishes between “significant” differences, which can be bridged after further discussion and analysis of methods, and “fundamental” differences, which are judged to be too different to be harmonized “in the foreseeable future.”

Continuing work on biofuel standards harmonization recommended by the task force includes briefings on the white paper for the International Biofuels Forum’s quarterly meeting in March and a trade implication analysis that will begin this year and continue into 2009.

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