The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On September 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected an additional four Productivity Enhanced Algae and Toolkits (PEAK) projects to receive up to $8.8 million.  The projects aim to develop high-impact tools and techniques that will increase the productivity of algae organisms to reduce the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts.  In total, DOE has awarded over $16 million in funding to the initiative. 
 
The project winners include:

  • Colorado School of Mines, in partnership with Global Algae Innovations, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Colorado State University, which will use advanced directed evolution approaches in combination with high-performance, custom-built, solar simulation bioreactors to improve the productivity of robust wild algal strains;
  • University of California, San Diego, which will work with Triton Health and Nutrition, Algenesis Materials, and Global Algae Innovations on the development of genetic tools, high-throughput screening methods, and breeding strategies for green algae and cyanobacteria, targeting robust production strains;
  • University of Toledo, in partnership with Montana State University and the University of North Carolina, which will cultivate microalgae in high-salinity and high-alkalinity media to achieve productivities without needing to add concentrated carbon dioxide, and deliver molecular toolkits, including metabolic modeling combined with targeted genome editing; and
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which will ecologically engineer algae to encourage growth of bacteria that efficiently remineralize dissolved organic matter to improve carbon dioxide uptake and simultaneously remove excess oxygen.

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 29, 2017, the government of the province of Ontario, Canada announced $25.8 million has been allocated to the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) as a part of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.  The funding will be used to support emerging, innovative technologies in areas such as alternative energy generation and conservation, new biofuels or bioproducts, next-generation transportation or novel carbon capture and usage technologies. 
 
Funding is available either from:

  • The Technology Demonstration stream, which aims to support the development and commercialization of innovative low carbon technologies through testing in real-world settings; or
  • The Technology Validation stream, which aims to fund proof-of-concept or prototype projects from eligible Ontario companies or academic organizations to help them get to market faster.
To be eligible for LCIF, projects must be conducted in Ontario and must show significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario.  Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan is key to its achievement of its goal of cutting greenhouse gas pollution to 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 percent below by 2030, and 80 percent below by 2050.

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On September 5, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its Specialty Chemicals business signed an application agreement with Itaconix to develop innovative biobased chelates for consumer and industrial detergents and cleaners.  According to Peter Kuijpers, AkzoNobel General Manager of Chelates and Micronutrients, biobased chelates are replacements for the phosphate compounds that are being phased out of consumer and commercial cleaning products due to environmental concerns.  This is the second partnership to emerge since the companies signed a joint development agreement in January to explore opportunities for biobased polymer production.  The first application agreement focused on the development of Itaconix’s proprietary polymers for use in the coatings and construction industries, as reported by the BRAG blog post, AkzoNobel Announces First Biobased Polymer Application Agreement With Itaconix.  All products stemming from the collaboration will be marketed under AkzoNobel’s Dissolvine® brand.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 21, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released their interim report titled A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology.  The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) asked NAS to develop the framework to:

  • Guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology;
  • Assess the level of concern warranted for various advances and identify areas of vulnerability; and
  • Prioritize options to address these vulnerabilities.
The report provides an overview of the categories of synthetic biology and a set of initial questions aimed at guiding the assessment of concern related to the technologies and applications of the field.  The framework outlines factors for assessing the levels of concern that each technology and application presents in terms of malicious use, as well as factors for assessing the capability for mitigation.  The final report will use the framework to provide DOD with an assessment of concerns and mitigation options by developing informed answers to the questions posed in the interim report.

 

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 31, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that requirements for reformulated gasoline and low volatility gasoline would be waived through September 15, 2017, for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia.  EPA exercised its emergency fuel waiver authority to help ensure an adequate supply of fuel throughout the South, Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  As required by law, EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) evaluated the impacts of Hurricane Harvey on refineries in the Gulf Coast based on strict criteria provided in the Clean Air Act (CAA) and determined that granting a short-term waiver was consistent with the public interest.  The CAA requires that waivers be limited as much as possible in terms of their geographic scope and duration.  EPA and DOE continue to monitor the fuel supply situation and will act if it is determined that extreme and unusual supply circumstances exist in other areas.


 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On September 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) published in the Federal Register a notice of an open meeting of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC).  REEEAC will hold a meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on November 16, 2017, in Washington, D.C.  REEEAC provides the Secretary of Commerce with advice from the private sector on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand the export competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services.  The meeting will include REEEAC subcommittee working sessions, a discussion on next steps for each subcommittee, consideration of recommendations for approval, and an update from DOC and other agencies on major issues affecting the competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.  An agenda will be available upon request by November 1, 2017.  Stakeholders interested in participating in the meeting must register with Victoria Gunderson (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on November 10, 2017.

Tags: DOC, REEEAC

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 25, 2017, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) announced that the European Commission confirmed the extension of the Red Tractor voluntary scheme for biofuels for an initial three months.  Red Tractor is a certification body used to prove that crops meet European Union (EU) sustainability requirements.  To receive public support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels used in the EU must comply with the EU's sustainability criteria.  One way for a company to demonstrate compliance is to participate in voluntary schemes recognized by the European Commission.
 
As with the other voluntary schemes, Red Tractor was approved for a period of five years, which expired on August 1, 2017.  On August 24, 2017, NFU called on the Commission to urgently address concerns that Red Tractor-approved crops will no longer be able to enter the European biofuels market.  The Commission responded by confirming that the Red Tractor scheme continues to be considered compliant with the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sustainability criteria until November 5, 2017, pending another five-year approval.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 25, 2017, the Bioplastics Division of the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) awarded DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) the 2017 Innovation in Bioplastics Award.  DuPont and ADM were recognized for their development of a method to produce furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose derived from corn starch.  Compared to traditional conversion methods used to produce the biobased monomer, the new method is more sustainable and results in higher yields, lower energy, and capital expenditures.  Patrick Krieger, PLASTICS Assistant Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs, stated that “the breakthrough process […] will make bioplastics a competitive option in more applications across various industries.”  The new FDME process is currently being used to develop polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a 100 percent renewable and recyclable polymer with improved gas barrier properties, which can extend shelf life and lighten the weight of products in the beverage packaging industry.
 
On August 31, 2017, DuPont successfully merged with the Dow Chemical Company and began operating as a holding company under the name “DowDuPont™” with three divisions, specifically Agriculture, Materials Science, and Specialty Products.  DuPont’s Industrial Biosciences business is organized under the Specialty Products division.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Sandia National Laboratories announced that it is helping HelioBioSys Inc. learn whether farming cyanobacteria on a large scale would be successful in producing sugar for biofuels.  HelioBioSys Inc. patented a group of three non-genetically modified marine cyanobacteria for the production of sugars, which can then be converted into a variety of fuels and chemicals.  Similar to algae, cyanobacteria grow in water and avoid competition with food crops for land, water, and other resources, making them a desirable renewable resource.  Cyanobacteria colonies, however, grow more efficiently than algae and excrete sugars directly into the water where they grow.  Whereas a typical algae farm may produce one gram of biomass per liter, small-scale testing of the cyanobacteria demonstrate that they can produce four to seven grams of sugar per liter of biomass, a 700 percent increase in efficiency.  Additionally, filtering sugar from water is simpler and more cost effective than extracting lipids from algae.
 
Now that HelioBioSys has proven the efficacy of the cyanobacteria in a closed, controlled, sterile laboratory, the company is working with Sandia researchers to understand where predation may cause issues by growing the organisms in large open air raceway systems, and to further study how the three types of cyanobacteria work together.


 

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 14, 2017, Flint Hills Resources, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that construction is underway to install a new, bolt-on technology, known as Maximized Stillage Co-Products™ (MSC), at its ethanol plant in Fairmont, Nebraska.  The MSC technology will be used to convert a portion of the distiller grains, a coproduct of ethanol manufacturing, to a high protein animal and fish feed ingredient, known as NexPro™.  NexPro will be a combination of corn gluten (protein) and spent yeast with close to 50 percent protein and an improved amino acid profile, compared to traditional corn gluten meal.
 
The $50 million project, which involves the addition of a new building and two protein dryers, is expected to last 12 months.  The patented MSC technology was developed by Fluid Quip Process Technologies (FQPT) exclusively for dry mill ethanol plants to separate protein from the solids leftover after ethanol distillation.  Once isolated, the protein is dried into a high-quality meal.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 24, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that its Neste MY Renewable Diesel™ is part of Finavia's climate program.  Initially, the renewable fuel will be used in 20 Helsinki Airport buses, with the goal of expanding its use in the future.  According to Mikko Viinikainen, Vice President of Sustainability & Environment at Finavia, Neste MY Renewable Diesel is an excellent addition to the Finavia’s energy portfolio, which has been working towards carbon-neutral operations by using renewable energy sources; by investing in new, energy-efficient, low-emission solutions; and by compensating for residual emissions.  The renewable fuel can be used in airport buses without any vehicle modifications and is available to all companies operating at the airport.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced in the Federal Register that a preliminary determination had been issued in the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.  DOC preliminarily determined that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. The period of investigation for both countries is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016. 
 
Pursuant to Section 703(e)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, DOC preliminarily determined that critical circumstances exist with respect to imports of biodiesel from Indonesia for Musim Mas and Wilmar Trading.  Similarly, DOC preliminary determined that critical circumstances exist with respect to imports of biodiesel from Argentina for LDC Argentina and Vicentin, but do not exist with respect to all other exporters or producers not individually examined.  DOC will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption, and to require a cash deposit equal to the subsidy rates indicated in the respective Federal Register notice.  For Indonesian companies not individually examined, DOC applied an “all-others” subsidy rate, which was calculated by weight averaging the calculated subsidy rates of the two individually examined company respondents. 
 
More information on the methodology and results of DOC’s analysis is available in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, which is a public document on file in the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS).  DOC invites comments on the preliminary determinations from interested stakeholders.  Following DOC’s final determination, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will make its final determination within 45 days.


 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of request for public comment on an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement regarding Biobased Procurements.  Pursuant to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Clause 52.223-2, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts, prime contractors are required to report annually the product types and dollar values of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-designated biobased products purchased to the System for Award Management (SAM) website.  Federal agencies use the submitted information to report annually to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) concerning actions taken to implement and measure progress in carrying out the preference for biobased products required under Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, codified at 7 U.S.C. § 8102.  
 
Comments are due by October 27, 2017.  Public comments are invited specifically on:

  • Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the FAR, and whether it will have practical utility;
  • Whether the estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
Tags: DOD, GSA, NASA, Biobased

 
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