Why should you care about the VRIN?


The VRIN is an important piece to maintaining RFS compliance


By Jim Ramm, P.E., EcoEngineers


Intimate knowledge of clean fuel regulations and record-keeping requirements is needed to maintain compliance in the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The USEPA bases much of its compliance enforcement on the number of renewable energy credits or RINs generated from a batch volume of renewable fuel sold. This is also known as the VRIN. Measurement of the VRIN varies from fuel to fuel. The difference in how it’s measured is based on the USEPA’s definition of the renewable fuel. Let’s break it down:

  • Ethanol: VRIN is the RIN volume, in gallons, used to determine the number of gallon-RINs that shall be generated for the batch of renewable fuel loaded into a truck or railcar. Ethanol is considered to have a lower heating value of 77,000 Btu/gallon and 1 RIN per gallon. Under the RFS, only ethanol that has been denatured qualifies as renewable fuel. Therefore, VRIN is measured on the volume of denatured ethanol which includes 1.96-2.49% petroleum denaturant by volume.
  • Biodiesel: This fuel has higher energy content per gallon relative to ethanol and receives 1.5 RINs per gallon. Biodiesel is often blended to B99 which includes 99.9 percent biodiesel and 0.1 percent petroleum diesel. In the case of B99, the petroleum diesel cannot be included in measurement of the VRIN.
  • Renewable diesel: The VRIN for renewable diesel can vary from 1.6 to 1.7 RINs per gallon and must be determined based upon the energy content of the renewable fuel produced.
  • Renewable natural gas (RNG): The VRIN for RNG is based on Btu sale measurements converted to a lower heating value basis of 77,000 Btu’s per RIN.
  • Foreign imports: For imports, the VRIN is based on a volume measurement made at the U.S. based port or blending terminal.
  • Temperature correction: It is critical that the volume of liquid fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol, and renewable diesel is temperature corrected to 60° F before calculating the VRIN. For coprocessed renewable diesel, the renewable portion can be measured, either via radiocarbon dating or or §80.1426 Feedstock Energy (FE) equation.

The VRIN calculation is double-checked during the three-year engineering review process, and results are reported to the USEPA. It is also checked in the EcoEngineers Quality Assurance Program (QAP).

At EcoEngineers, we live and work in the intersection of low-carbon fuel policy, innovative technology, and the carbon marketplace. Our experience and expertise are a result of the thousands of hours spent working side-by-side with project owners, developers, traders, regulators, and policy makers. We can help you develop protocols that will benefit you in registration, compliance, and verification of VRIN for your fuel type.

Jim Ramm, P.E.

Jim Ramm, P.E., is the Director of Engineering and cofounder of EcoEngineers. He has over 30 years of experience in civil/environmental engineering including work in the areas of ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and solid waste and renewable fuel production processes. For more information about VRIN or EcoEngineers, contact Jim at jramm@ecoengineers.us.