On August 10, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $30 million expansion of the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R). DOE is partnered with the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology (MST), and both departments are committing $1.5 million annually over the next five years to expand research into smart grid and energy storage technology. U.S. and Indian private sectors will match the government commitments, resulting in a total of $30 million in public-private research investment over the next five years. The PACE-R initiative was originally launched in 2009 to support clean energy technology research and deployment. Since PACE-R began, the initiative has expanded to include Research, Deployment, and Access. PACE-R was originally created with three consortia focusing on solar energy, energy efficiency in buildings, and next-generation biofuels. This funding will allow for the creation of a fourth consortium focused on smart grid technology and energy storage.
On August 10, 2016, India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan spoke at a conference in New Delhi about the future of India's biofuel market. He discussed how a target five percent biodiesel blend and a ten percent ethanol blend in gasoline could increase the biofuels market from 65 billion rupees to 500 billion rupees by 2022. The Indian biofuel industry is currently trying to achieve a five percent biobased blend for both diesel and gasoline, and aims to increase the availability of domestic biofuels through the construction of multiple ethanol plants, as well as further development of biofuel infrastructure. Part of the push to increase the use of biofuels in India is driven by a desire to reduce overseas energy purchases by ten percent by 2022, which could be significantly offset by wider availability of domestic biofuels.
On September 12, 2016, Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner of Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) affiliate Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®); Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., B&C Senior Chemist; and Kathleen M. Roberts, Vice President of B&C Consortia Management, L.L.C. (BCCM), will present "The New TSCA: Information and Reporting (Sections 8 & 14)" in conjunction with Chemical Watch. This free webinar is the third in Chemical Watch's Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform series, and will focus on reporting and recordkeeping obligations, confidential business information (CBI) considerations, nomenclature, the "reset" of the TSCA inventory, and obligations for processors. The first two webinars in this series, "Summary of major changes: what to expect and when to expect it" and "Impacts on new and existing chemicals programs" are available on the Chemical Watch website.
On August 2, 2016, Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner of B&C, presented the webinar "New TSCA's Impact on Biotechnology," with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). This webinar, available for free on the NAS website, includes an overview of TSCA updates resulting from the passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Ms. Bergeson focused specifically on how these updates could impact the regulation of biotechnology, especially under Sections 3, 4, 5, and 26. Changes include: how EPA defines "conditions of use" and "potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations," and applies them to intergeneric microorganisms; an expansion of EPA's authority to compel testing; and a requirement for EPA to provide an affirmative determination when reviewing Section 5 notifications.
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||Scicasts, "New Protein Process in E. Coli Could Lead to Production of Better Biofuels"
||Neste, "Neste Renewable Diesel to Power County of Sacramento's Fleet in California"
||GlobeNewswire, "Alliance BioEnergy and DCR Engineering Join Forces"
||Fast Coexist, "This Startup Turns CO2 into a Sustainable Replacement for Palm Oil"
On August 3, 2016, 24 farmer and public interest organizations wrote to the Obama Administration expressing their disappointment with the direction that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has taken with the proposed modernization of the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology (Coordinated Framework). The letter argues that an overly permissive regulatory framework for genetically engineered (GE) products has resulted in negative consequences, and that GE products need broader and more cautious regulatory oversight. The letter also states that public engagement with the project has not been proactively pursued by the Coordinated Framework's Working Group, and demands "more transparency, more public meetings and more public input."
On August 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee in the Federal Register. The purpose of the meeting is to develop advice and guidance promoting research and development (R&D) for biofuel and bioproducts production. A tentative agenda includes:
- Update on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biomass R&D Activities
- Update on DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Biomass R&D Activities
- Overview of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI)
- Presentations on Advanced Biodigester Systems
- Overview of OSTP and Its Role on the Biomass Board
The meeting will be held in Madison, WI, on August 17, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (CT) and August 18, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (CT). A meeting summary will be provided for public review online.
On August 2, 2016, DOE announced up to $11.3 million in funding to support the development of biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways. Three projects will receive the funding under MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels to produce high-value bioproducts as well as economically competitive biofuels. The projects selected to receive this funding are:
- The Dow Chemical Company, working with LanzaTech and Northwestern University, to develop a process to convert biomass-derived synthetic gas to fatty alcohols as a pathway to biofuels.
- Amyris, Inc., along with Renmatix and Total New Energies, to develop a process to produce farnesene from cellulosic sugar.
- Research Triangle Institute, as well as Arkema and AECOM, to determine the technical, environmental, and economic feasibility of recovering mixed methoxyphenols from biocrude alongside biofuel production.
On August 1, 2016, DOE released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for $7 million to research fuel and engine co-optimization technologies. Funding will be provided through the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative, a collaboration between DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), bringing together national laboratories and industry to conduct tandem fuel and engine research, development, and deployment assessments. This initiative works to improve near-term conventional spark-ignition engine efficiency and enable full operability of advanced compression ignition engines. Research cycles include identifying fuel candidates, understanding their characteristics, and determining market transformation requirements. This FOA is restricted to U.S. Institutions of Higher Education and nonprofit research institutions operating under U.S. Institutions of Higher Education. Proposals should address one or more of the following sub-topics:
- Fuel characterization and fuel property prediction;
- Kinetic measurement and mechanism development;
- Emissions and environmental impact analysis;
- Impact of fuel chemistry and fuel properties on particulate emissions;
- Small-volume, high-throughput fuel testing; and
- Additional barriers.
Concept papers are due by August 15, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT), with full applications due on September 18, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
On July 29, 2016, President Obama signed into law Senate Bill 764 (S. 764), creating a national bioengineered food disclosure standard. This law requires companies to provide information on food packaging directing customers to a website or phone line for more information about genetically modified organisms (GMO) that are present in the food product. S. 764 also contains specific language preempting State regulations on "labeling of whether a food (including food served in a restaurant or similar establishment) or seed [in interstate commerce] is genetically engineered ... or was developed or produced using genetic engineering."
In addition to requiring companies to disclose the presence of bioengineered ingredients, S. 764 creates an official definition of bioengineering as "a food -- (A) that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant [DNA] techniques; and (B) for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature." The law also creates a "non-GMO" label that can be displayed on products that are U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) "certified organic." While harmful effects of GMOs have not been proven, this law allows consumers to educate themselves on the ingredients in their food while creating consistent national language and requirements for bioengineered foods. More information about this bill is available in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) article "Senate Passes GMO Bill Creating A National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard With Federal Preemption And Exclusion Information."
On July 27, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator signed the final rule Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products, setting formaldehyde emission standards for hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard, as well as for finished products containing these products. This final rule discusses alternatives to regulated composite wood products, specifically mentioning Ecovative Design, LLC's packaging, building materials, and automotive products that are grown from agricultural byproducts and mycelium. The mycelium binds the wood together, completely eliminating the need for resins containing formaldehyde. The products created through this biofabrication process are not considered to be hardwood plywood, particleboard, or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and, thus, are not subject to these new regulations. Ecovative Design, LLC was the recipient of a 2014 EPA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to help develop new alternatives to regulated composite wood products. EPA states that it encourages other companies to explore all aspects of their production process to lower formaldehyde emissions from their products.
On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Develop Administration (EDA) announced $4.4 million in grants to diversify and grow Maine's economy. This funding is intended to provide immediate assistance to rural communities that have been impacted by recent mill closures, focusing specifically on the forest sector of the economy. Bio-Based Maine, in partnership with the University of Maine, will receive $519,930 of the funding for a $856,549 project to develop a road map to advance biobased manufacturing in Maine. This project, including the cost analysis, technology assessment, and market research, is anticipated to result in one or more mills producing cellulosic sugars, creating at least 195 jobs. EDA announced several other grants from other federal partners to support Maine's economy as well, including a $3.3 million U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) biobased jet fuel grant, and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
On July 25, 2016, the the Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced a $12 million investment in Bioindustrial Innovation Canada. The Centre for the Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovations will be supported through the funding, and will help businesses quickly bring biobased products from final testing stages to the commercial market. This funding will specifically benefit the Sarnia-Lambton region, and create 478 full-time equivalent jobs as well as 250 new industrial collaborations in an effort to transition the region from a petrobased economy to a biobased economy.
Don't miss the upcoming European Commission (EC) Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP) workshop "From bio-waste to bio-based products: the potential for regional innovation development." This Brussels-based session of the KEP Bioeconomy Showcasing Event will present the EC's biotechnology initiative and policy framework, as well as case studies on regional growth of biobased products. This workshop is scheduled for October 11, 2016, as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities conference. Registration is free and open through September 26, 2016.