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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of up to $6 million in funding to support research in plant feedstock genomics for bioenergy.  Support is provided in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) through the Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, which aims to improve the use of biomass and plant feedstocks for the production of fuels or renewable chemical feedstocks.  Research projects should focus on overcoming biological barriers to the low-cost, high-quality, scalable, and sustainable production of dedicated bioenergy biomass feedstocks using the tools of genetics and genomics.  Eligible applicants, including state agricultural experiment stations, colleges and universities, university research foundations, individuals, non-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations, are encouraged to submit proposals.  Applications are due April 20, 2018.  More information on the funding opportunity is available on the NIFA website.


 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On January 10, 2018, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the next phase of its international collaboration to study the impact of biofuels on jet engine performance, emissions, and contrail formation.  In February, NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory will sample and analyze gases and particles present in the wake of the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) Advanced Technology Research Aircraft (ATRA) A320 aircraft as it burns alternative biofuels.  Eight joint DC-8/A320 flights are planned to sample three different fuels at a variety of altitudes and airspeeds under contrail forming and non-contrail forming conditions.  The objective of the project is to assess the effects of alternative fuels on aircraft engine performance and emissions, particularly regarding the impact of soot from those emissions on the size, concentration, and lifetime of contrail ice particles. 
 
The research is a continuation of NASA’s investigation on the impact of biofuels on jet engine pollution, as previously reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post NASA Confirms Biofuels Reduce Jet Engine Pollution.  Compared to previous experiments, NASA will be flying where contrails form and persist, which will provide more opportunities for gathering data, and will be analyzing data using a much more extensive instrument.

Tags: NASA, Biofuel

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 17, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) adopted the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), which includes draft measures to raise the share of renewable energy to 35 percent by 2030.  Additionally, the lawmakers voted to exclude biofuels produced from palm oil from consideration of European Union (EU) Renewable Energy targets and to cap other crop-based fuels at their current levels.  The exclusion of palm oil-derived biofuels would not ban or limit the production of such biofuels in the EU.  The EP vote does not represent a final decision, but rather sets the EP position for negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission (EC).

Tags: REDII, EP, EU, Biofuels

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

According to Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, Brazil is considering lifting the 20 percent tariff on ethanol imports from the U.S..  Demand for ethanol in Brazil has increased due to record-high gasoline prices.  As indicated in the BRAG blog post Grain, Ethanol Industry Send Letter To U.S. Trade Representative On Brazil Ethanol Tariff, U.S. ethanol producers would welcome the removal of the tariff and renewed access to Brazil, which is the largest destination for U.S. biofuel exports.  Minister Maggi indicated that the decision to remove the tariff would depend on the U.S. lifting the ban on fresh beef exports from Brazil.  In 2017, the U.S. banned fresh beef from Brazil following a food safety scandal and Brazil imposed a tax on ethanol from the U.S. following an increase in imports.  While speaking to reporters on January 16, 2018, Minister Maggi stated that “[t]here is, on the part of the United States, a big demand to withdraw [the ethanol tariff] and we also have this problem with beef. . . . Obviously one thing influences and contaminates the other.”  According to Minister Maggi, Brazil has addressed all U.S. requirements regarding the safety of its fresh beef and is awaiting the U.S.’s decision.


 

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 8, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue presented to President Donald Trump the findings of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.  The Task Force was established in 2017 following an Executive Order by President Trump to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.  According to the report, over 100 actions organized around five key topic areas, specifically e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, innovation and technology, and economic development, were identified.
 
Of the recommendations related to economic development, the Task Force identified regaining American energy dominance as a key objective.  The report states that “[‌b]oosting production of all sources of energy from natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear, and renewables is essential to America’s national security interest and rural America’s economy.  The federal government must ensure a regulatory environment which can unleash this potential while keeping Americans safe and healthy.”

Regarding innovation and technology, the report recognizes biotechnology as “another area of U.S. leadership, being a sector that has driven innovation in fuels, chemicals, manufacturing, and agriculture.”  The Task Force recommended that:

  • The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other relevant agencies develop a communications strategy to increase acceptance of biotech products; and
  • The federal government continue efforts to modernize the federal regulatory system for biotechnology products, particularly by:
    • Coordinating the federal regulation of biotechnology products;
    • Coordinating interagency action through the Office of Science and Technology Policy; and
    • Expediting the commercialization of biotechnology products.
​​The full report is available on the USDA website.

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On January 2, 2018, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) issued a Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) report on Japan’s fuel ethanol policy.  According to the report, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) is seeking public comments on changes to its fuel ethanol policy.  The changes would establish a U.S. corn-based ethanol greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions value of 43.15; allow U.S. corn-based ethanol to be imported for the production of bio-ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE); increase the GHG emission values for Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and gasoline; and increase the GHG reduction target from 50 to 55 percent.  Comments on the proposed changes are due by January 18, 2018.  GAIN reports are prepared by U.S. Foreign Service officers working at posts overseas who collect and submit to FAS information on the agricultural situation.

Tags: Japan, Biofuel

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 10, 2018, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the challenges for its latest Imagine Chemistry program.  AkzoNobel initiated the Imagine Chemistry program in 2017 to startup and scale-up firms and researchers for an opportunity to solve real industry challenges and create sustainable business opportunities in chemistry.  Challenge winners receive joint development agreements with AkzoNobel to help bring their ideas to market.  During the 2018 program, AkzoNobel is soliciting solutions to the following challenges;

  • Development of a surfactant platform that is fully sustainable, specifically biobased, biodegradable, and zero footprint, and suitable for many applications;
  • Organic-free wastewater treatment solutions;
  • Smart technology to make chemical plants more intelligent, autonomous, and resource efficient;
  • Production of chlorate using a more sustainable, energy efficient method that does not use hexavalent chromium;
  • Technologies to increase the efficiency of the production of dry powder products; and
  • Small particle technology to help drive performance and sustainability improvements.​ 
Participants can submit ideas and solutions through the online challenge platform.  Finalists will be invited to an intensive three-day event in June at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, where they will work with experts in finance and research to further develop their ideas.

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference 2018 (ABLC) will be held February 28 - March 2, 2018, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.  ABLC is the gathering point for top leaders in the Advanced Bioeconomy -- bringing together the entire spectrum of advanced fuels, chemicals, and materials chief executive officers (CEO) and senior executives, business developers, research and development (R&D) leaders, strategic partners, financiers, equity analysts, policymakers, and industry suppliers.  Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist for Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), and Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D., Manager of BRAG, are featured speakers.  Register online.
 
ABLC is a connected series of five conferences on pressing issues in the bioeconomy, including: 

  • Advanced Fuels Summit;
  • Renewable Chemicals, Biomaterials & Intermediates Summit;
  • Aviation Biofuels Summit;
  • ABLC Crop & Feedstocks Summit; and
  • ABLC Economic Development & Deployment Showcase.

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On January 4, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the University of Tennessee a $2,994,429 grant to improve biorefinery technologies through the Integrated Biorefinery Optimization (IBO) program.  The project aims to develop and commercialize solvent fractionated lignins to polymeric products for their potential market in building and construction sectors.  The overarching goal of the research is to develop integrated pathways for the extraction of value-added polymeric products from lignin waste/under-valued stream from biorefineries.  The IBO program is coordinated between NIFA and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and funds biorefinery technology development projects that aim to reduce costs and improve performance of integrated biorefineries to enhance U.S. energy security.  Funding for the project comes from NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which addresses challenges in food and agricultural sciences through research, extension, and education.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 4, 2018, the International Trade Administration (ITA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of the countervailing duty (CVD) orders on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia based on the affirmative final determinations by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC).  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post ITC Issues Final Determinations On Biodiesel From Argentina And Indonesia, after DOC issued its final affirmative determination on November 16, 2017, ITC filed its final determination on December 21, 2017, stating that an industry in the United States is materially injured by subsidized imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.  According to the notice, unliquidated entries of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, entered or withdrawn from a warehouse for consumption on or after August 28, 2017, are subject to the assessment of CVD.  DOC will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess the CVD for the subject merchandise equal to the net countervailable subsidy rates established in the notice.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 28, 2017, New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides announced that the New York City Council unanimously passed a bill on the use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel technologies in the city ferry fleet (INT. 54).  The legislation would require a two-year study on the feasibility of using alternative fuel, including biodiesel, and fuel technologies, including hybrid electric or fuel-cell electric, in city ferries.  The study would include consideration of availability, storage, ferry compatibility, possible barriers, regulatory requirements, and other issues related to renewable fuels.  Based on the findings, the city would determine whether it is feasible and practical to implement the use of renewable fuels.  The bill, which Council Member Constantinides introduced to the Council in 2014, is awaiting Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature.

Tags: NYC, Biofuel, Study

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On January 2, 2018, Clariant, a specialty chemicals company, announced the development of a new biobased polymer for cosmetic creams and lotions.  The new ingredient is a rheology modifier that influences formulation viscosity and achieves specific sensorial and texturizing properties for creams and lotions, but does not change the properties of an application.  The polymer contains more than 50 percent renewable carbon derived from sugar-based isobutene.  Global Bioenergies, an industrial biotechnology company, produces the renewable isobutene on a small scale at a demo plant in Germany.  Clariant and Global Bioenergies are working to scale up production volumes.  According to Ralf Zerrer, the Head of Strategic Marketing and Innovation, Business Unit Industrial & Consumer Specialties at Clariant, "[t]he demand for ingredients based on renewable resources is here to stay and will become the norm among brands in the very near future.”


 
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