Joule’s ethanol pathway approved by EPA under the RFS

Developers of novel renewable fuels or new methods of manufacturing biofuels may need to obtain EPA approval for their production pathway in order to qualify to generate Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This is a topic I’ve covered in several previous blog entries, particularly in 2014 when EPA revised its procedures and guidelines for submitting petitions for new pathway approvals. Briefly, if a fuel is produced by a pathway that is not already qualified under the RFS regulations, the developer must submit a detailed petition to the Agency describing the process to substantiate that it meets the requirements of the law, including achieving the applicable threshold of reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

I’m happy to report the success of one petition process with which I’ve been involved. Joule Unlimited Technologies recently announced that it received EPA approval for its Sunflow®-E ethanol process as an advanced biofuel, thus qualifying the pathway to generate advanced biofuel (D-5) RINs. To make its Sunflow-E ethanol, Joule converts CO2 to ethanol directly in a continuous process, using engineered bacteria as living catalysts. To qualify for the category of “advanced biofuels” under the RFS, the production pathway must reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by more than 50% when compared to traditional petroleum based fuels. In the EPA’s analysis of Joule’s petition, Joule’s Sunflow-E was found to reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by 85%, significantly above the required threshold.

Working as a consultant to Joule, I was the company’s liaison to EPA throughout this petition process, and I helped coordinate the in-house work of a very talented and dedicated technical team to draft the petition and to make this approval possible.

EPA’s approval letter of the Joule pathway can be found on EPA’s website. You can see Joule’s press release for more information on Joule and the Sunflow-E ethanol process. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like assistance with any matter relating to the Renewable Fuel Standard or other renewable fuels-related issue.

D. Glass Associates, a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory affairs support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. More information on D. Glass Associates’ regulatory affairs consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at and at The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Biofuel Policy Watch.