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Biofuels, Biolubricants and The BioPreferred Program

October 01, 2013
Girma Biresaw
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The BioPreferredSM Program is a US government initiative intended to encourage  the development and widespread use of biobased products in the US, including biofuels and biolubricants.  The program was created by the US Congress as part of the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bill. The Bill directed the USDA to establish guidelines and designate items with minimum biobased content for preferred purchase by all agencies of the US Federal government. As such, Federal procurement official must purchase biobased products from the BioPreferredSM list unless: the product is not reasonably available; fails to meet performance standards; available only at an unreasonable price. In addition to the preferred procurement, the BioPreferredSM Program also have a voluntary labeling program for the broad scale consumer marketing of biobased products that meet the minimum biobased content.

A company wishing to have its products certified under the BioPreferredSM Program must first setup an account with USDA by visiting the website and following the instructions on the webpage. Once the account has been properly set, the company is required to complete an online application for a USDA Certified Biobased Product Label. Once the application is accepted, the company is directed to conduct a series of required activities, that will eventually lead to the awarding of the “USDA Certified Biobased Product Label.” These activities must be conducted in the order specified by USDA in order to enable awarding of the label.

USDA has published more than 95 product categories under the BioPreferredSM Program.  Groups of categories, each category with its own minimum biobased content, are announced on the Federal Register. To date, a total of ten announcements (Rounds) have been made. The first announcement (Round 1) was in 2006, and contained a total of six categories of which two were biolubricants and one a biofuel. These biolube/biofuel categories and their respective minimum biobased content were: mobile equipment hydraulic fluids, 44 %; penetrating oils, 68 %; diesel, 90 %. In Round 3 (2008) the following biolubricant categories (minimum biobased content) were added: 2-cycle engine (34 %); greases (75%); food grade grease (42%); multi-purpose greas (72 %); rail track grease (30%); truck grease (71 %); stationary equipment hydraulic fluid (44 %). More biolubricants categories (and minimum biobased content) were listed in subsequent Rounds as follows. Round 4 (2008): three categories of metalworking fluids (44-66 %); Round 5 (2009): chain and cable lubricants (77 %); Round 6 (2010): turbine drip oils (87%); Round 7 (2011): slide way lubricants (74%); Round 10 (2013): engine crankcase oil (25%); water turbine bearing oil (46%).

In addition to listing products, the BioPreferredSM Program also engages in publicizing the benefits of the biobased products. Successful application of biobased products that are reported to the BioPreferredSM Program are archived and made available on the program website under the title of “Success Stories." Testimonials are listed for a variety of biobased product categories as: absorbents, carpets, cutting oils, gun oil, ink, roofs, etc. Examples of titles for success report of  biolubricants and biofuels include: “Biobased Lubricants and Fuel Help Keep Large Bus Fleet Rolling,” and “"Park Adopts Biobased Products with No Problems."

For more information about the BioPreferredSM Program please visit the official web site at http://www.biopreferred.gov/.

Dr. Girma Biresaw, is a Research Chemist/Lead Scientist of the Bio-Oils Research Unit at NCAUR-MWA-ARS-USDA, located in Peoria, IL. You can find his contact information in our membership database. Or you can visit his webpage for more information on his work.

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