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Other methods under consideration for creating renewable diesel fuel include biomass-to-liquid (BTL) and thermal conversion process (TCP) technologies. The former converts biomass—predominantly cellulosic material such as certain grasses, waste plant materials or other plants—through high-temperature gasification into synthetic gas or “syngas.” And then uses a Fischer-Tropsch process to catalytically convert the syngas to liquid fuel. TCP processing converts biomass or other carboneous material into a “bio-oil” which is then further refined into diesel-like fuel. Both BTL and TCP offer tremendous potential to convert large volumes of cellulosic biomass into liquid fuels, but need further development and remain far from being economical for large-scale fuel production.
The progress in biodiesel production—resulting in a shift to renewable diesel—could make the tensions between automakers and biodiesel providers a thing of the past. The quality of FAME biodiesel has improved in recent years, according to the National Biodiesel Board—but the real answer to replacing petroleum diesel could lie with NERD.