Fuel additive is one way to reduce emissions in troubled Texas region

| Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sometimes adding one thing can help take something else away.

That's the simplest way of explaining the strategy behind a new biodiesel additive coming to market in East Texas.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality demands that all fuel, including biodiesel, meet the strict standards of the Texas Low Emission Diesel program, also referred to as the TxLED program. The commission recently approved a product called Oryxe LED, the first-ever biodiesel additive to be approved for use in Texas by fuel producers to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, also known as NOx.

Produced by the California company Oryxe Energy International, the product can be added to biodiesel blends up to B20 - which is 80 percent petroleum diesel blended with 20 percent biodiesel.

The Oryxe additive satisfies TxLED requirements, which are similar to standards set by the California Air Resources Board, according to a Texas environmental commission spokesman.

"Those rules are designed for producers and importers of fuel into the 110-county region," Morris Brown, air-quality technical specialist for the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, told Land Line.

Brown said there are four ways fuel producers can meet TxLED standards of 10 percent maximum aeromatics and a minimum cetane number of 48. Those are:

  • Use of an approved alternative fuel formulation including additives;
  • The import and use of a certified "California diesel" fuel;
  • Use of an approved diesel formulation produced locally; or
  • The implementation of a government-approved emission-reduction strategy.

Brown said the biodiesel additive by Oryxe is an example of the first option on the list.

"At this point, there is only one alternative formulation approved by (the environmental commission) for biodiesel, and that's Oryxe additive," he said. "We're hoping other biodiesel producers and blenders will come through and go through the provisions to be approved as alternative formulations."

As part of an ongoing discussion about whether pure, unblended biodiesel already meets standards for NOx emissions, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is scheduled to meet May 9.

On the agenda that day is a proposed vote to extend the deadline to Dec. 31 for biodiesel producers to either show science to back up their claim about emissions, or begin complying. The old deadline of Dec. 31, 2006, has already passed, but the state has opted not to enforce penalties during the debate.

- By David Tanner, staff writer

david_tanner@landlinemag.com