NORA President on Low-Carbon Liquid Fuels

NORA President, John Huber, spoke with Eurofuel about the necessity of low-carbon liquid fuels in the U.S. and the joint conference on the Future of Liquid Fuels that NORA is hosting with Eurofuel on consecutive Wednesdays starting August 19.

What role can low carbon fuels play in climate protection?

NORA President John Huber

The economic activity of a high percentage of our economy is linked to carbon fuels. Heat, electricity and transportation represent almost 46% of carbon emissions. If we do not address fuels, we are essentially not addressing global warming which is not an acceptable answer.  Thus, we must have lower carbon fuels.  As an industry that supplies liquid fuels we must supply the right low-carbon answer or we are essentially conceding the battle.  

What are currently your main activities regarding low carbon fuels?

NORA is working in a number of areas that you have asked about.  Our lab in Plainview, NY, headed by Dr. Tom Butcher, spends an extensive amount of time evaluating low carbon fuels.  We have worked on biodiesel, renewable diesel pyrolysis oils and ethyl levulinate.  Most of our effort is concentrated on biodiesel as it is available in the states where we operate.  NORA has worked to develop a pathway and understanding of how biodiesel will behave as we blend at higher and higher amounts.  We have worked with each of the oilburner manufacturers to develop information and technical limits on what the higher blends are.

We have also done several projects to understand how biodiesel can be used to reduce our carbon footprint and how it compares to our competitors, natural gas and electricity.  We are now completing a study on how high blends will impact the distribution system and whether there will be adequate supply.

NORA has also done a great deal of customer outreach.  We have done radio ads and maintain an active online marketing presence regarding biofuels.

And finally, in the US, most heating equipment service is associated with fuel dealers.  We have developed education platforms for service professionals on why the industry has to move to a low carbon fuels and what will need to be adjusted with higher blends. Also, are there actual maintenance concerns.  To further understand some of these issues, NORA does periodic surveys of the service industry on how biodiesel at high blends may be affecting performance.  Generally, the survey recipients indicate it is a net positive.  However, those who are not currently using it have a lot of false information that must be dispelled.

Why has NORA organized a conference on low carbon fuels together with Eurofuel?

Over the past years, we have had notable guests from England and Germany attend our technical conferences.  Additionally, we generally have a team that goes to Europe once a year.  Covid-19 prevented any of these activities from occurring.  So, we reached out to Eurofuel with the desire of holding a joint meeting.  There are two primary reasons, we need technical changes in our industry and sharing ideas and what is happening in the world’s largest markets is essential to speed up development.  Second, European public policy changes on the environment in recent years have preceded actions in the United States.  So, our interchange with Europe often provides a preview of the future.  With this preview, we have additional time to respond.

What can attendees expect from the conference?

The speakers are experts who are responding and spending substantial sums to provide a low carbon future for the heating industry.  We will see compelling data and information about new fuels and engineering developments which make our equipment safer and more efficient.  We hope attendees become more aware of their future, their role in the future, and step forward to advance the goals and requirements for us.