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.

Researchers at the National University of Colombia (UN) have designed and patented a faster and less costly process for producing biodiesel.  The process uses a tube reactor that allows the oil from crops, such as palm, soybean, or jatropha and alcohol, such as methanol, to flow in opposite directions and react without mixing.  Differences in density cause the biodiesel-containing oil phase to rise while the alcohol phase containing glycerol descends.  The “countercurrent operation” requires fewer steps and less equipment than other production processes.  To date, the system has been recognized with four patents, including one in the U.S.

Tags: Biodiesel

 

 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On January 10-11, 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NAS) Standing Committee on Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions (ESEHD) convened a workshop entitled “The Promise of Genome Editing Tools to Advance Environmental Health Research.”  The meeting is intended to bring together experts in molecular biology, toxicology, and public health to explore opportunities for using genome (and epigenome) editing technologies in environmental health research.  Participants are scheduled  to discuss genome editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 and their applications to help reveal the mechanisms through which environmental stressors influence  human health, including developing models of health and disease, testing chemicals for toxicity, and determining mechanisms of toxicity; and speakers explored how research that leverages genome editing tools might inform different types of decisions, including for risk assessment and environmental policy.  The sessions included:

  • Genome and Epigenome Editing: Trends, Techniques, and Capabilities;
  • Exploring Toxicology-Relevant Uses of Genome Editing Tools; and
  • Incorporating Genome Editing Tools into Environmental Health Research:  Pathways Forward.

More information on ESEHD regarding this workshop and other events is available on NAS’ website.

Tags: NAS, ESEHD

 
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Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) much anticipated and highly acclaimed annual Forecast, “Predictions and Outlook for U.S. Federal and International Chemical Regulatory Policy 2018,” is now available.  In the Forecast, the lawyers, scientists, and chemical regulatory specialists at B&C and its affiliated consulting firm, The Acta Group (Acta®), offer comprehensive and highly useful observations on the fast-changing and nuanced area of domestic and global chemical legal, scientific, and regulatory issues expected to be hot topics in 2018.  This 38-page document is chock-full of insights, predictions, and useful information.

Happy New Year and enjoying reading our predictions!

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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve new fuel pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Specifically, EPA is proposing to amend RFS regulations to define the term “distillers sorghum oil” and to add approved pathways from the production of biodiesel and heating oil from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process.  Distillers sorghum oil is grain sorghum oil extracted at any point downstream from sorghum grinding at dry mill ethanol plants. 
 
The proposed rule outlines EPA’s analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with certain biofuels produced from distiller sorghum oil.  Based on its assessment, EPA determined that using distillers sorghum oil as feedstock results in no significant agricultural sector GHG emissions, and that biodiesel and heating oil produced from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and LPG produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process, would meet the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50 percent required for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel under the RFS program.  Comments on the analysis are due by January 26, 2018.
 
In addition to EPA approval of the new pathway, producers may wish to confirm that the final sorghum-based product and all intermediates are listed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory or covered by an exemption prior to commercialization.  While naturally occurring substances are automatically added to the TSCA Inventory, the TSCA “naturally occurring exemption” is very narrow.  Specifically, a naturally occurring substance includes “any chemical substance which is naturally occurring and:  (1) [w]hich is (i) unprocessed or (ii) processed only by manual, mechanical, or gravitational means; by dissolution in water; by flotation; or by heating solely to remove water; or (2) [w]hich is extracted from air by any means.”

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 14, 2017, General Automation Lab Technologies (GALT) announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) a three year $3.5 million grant to improve the growth and efficiency of biofuel-producing algae.  LLNL and GALT will collaborate on the project, which also aims to reduce wasted byproducts of photosynthesis by targeting microbiomes that can more efficiently recycle it back to carbon dioxide for the algae to grow better.  GALT’s novel high-throughput microbiome research technology will be used to screen tens of thousands of microbiome combinations.  Researchers aim to target bacteria that are able to increase biomass yield under the high light and temperature stress conditions that are found in desert environments such as Arizona, where plenty of sunlight and useable land exist and could potentially support future algal biofuel production facilities.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the release of a request for applications (RFA) for Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects.  The SBIR program is comprised of three phases. During Phase I, applicants determine the scientific or technical feasibility of their proposed ideas. Phase II requires a more comprehensive application, outlining the proposed effort in further detail. The purpose of Phase III is to stimulate technological innovation and return on investment from research carried out in the prior two phases.  Applicants must have successfully completed a USDA Phase I project before applying for a Phase II grant. 
 
NIFA is soliciting applications under 13 topic areas, including Biofuels and Biobased Products.  Projects dealing with agriculturally-related manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged across all 2018 SBIR topic areas. 
 
Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on March 8, 2018.  More information on the RFA is available on the NIFA website.

Tags: USDA, SBIR

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 28, 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued in the Federal Register a notice regarding its final determination on the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.  Pursuant to the Tariff Act of 1930, ITC determined that an industry in the United States is materially injured by reason of imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, which have been found by the Department of Commerce (DOC) to be subsidized by the governments of Argentina and Indonesia.  ITC completed and filed its determinations on December 21, 2017, after holding a hearing on November 9, 2017, in which all interested parties were permitted to appear.  The views of ITC will be published in USITC Publication 4748 (December 2017), entitled Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia: Investigation Nos. 701-TA-571-572, which will be available on the ITC website shortly.

Tags: ITC

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 21, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the launch of its online hub focused on sustainable aviation solutions.  Decarbonizingaviation.com is an online platform designed to raise awareness and facilitate dialog in reducing the aviation industry's carbon footprint.  The results of a recent survey by Neste demonstrate that 50 percent of travelers consider it important that their airline goes above and beyond regulations to be environmentally friendly, and that most passengers are willing to pay a fee for renewable jet fuel.  With nearly 90 percent growth in air travel predicted between 2016 and 2035, a transition towards carbon neutral growth is needed to curb the rise in carbon dioxide emissions from aviation.  According to Paul Paoletta, Head of Neste Aviation Solutions, “Neste is working relentlessly to help airports and all aviation stakeholders to take advantage of sustainable low-carbon fuels in their operations.”


 

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program:  Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019 final rule.  This final rule sets the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel for 2019.  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post EPA Issues Final 2018 RFS Requirements, the final volume requirements are:

  • Cellulosic biofuel, from 311 million gallons in 2017 to 288 million gallons in 2018;
  • Advanced biofuel, from 4.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 4.29 billion gallons in 2018;
  • Renewable fuel, from 19.28 billion gallons in 2017 to 19.29 billion gallons in 2018; and
  • Biomass-based diesel, 2.1 billion gallons in 2018 and 2019.

​​ These final volumes change the percentage standards to 0.159 percent for cellulosic biofuel, 2.37 percent for advanced biofuel, 10.67 percent for renewable fuel, and 1.74 percent for biomass-based diesel.  This final rule becomes effective on February 12, 2018.
 
Additionally, EPA announced the availability of its “Periodic Reviews for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.”  Pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA must conduct periodic reviews of certain aspects of the RFS program.  In the report, EPA describes its interpretation of the statutory requirement to conduct periodic reviews, and prior actions that EPA has taken to fulfill its obligations to conduct such reviews.

Tags: EPA, RFS

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of up to $100 million in funding to support innovators through early-stage research and development (R&D) projects focused on technologies to transform the nation’s energy system.  The funding will be provided through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) OPEN funding opportunity.  OPEN funding opportunity announcements (FOA), which are typically issued on a triennial basis, allow ARPA-E to support projects outside the scope of existing ARPA-E focused programs.  The FOA is open to a broad variety of projects, including renewable electricity generation and the production and distribution of renewable fuels.
 
Concept papers in response to the FOA are due by 5:00 p.m. (EST) February 12, 2018.  More information on the FOA is available on the ARPA-E website.


 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 11, 2017, the Feedstock-Conversion Interface Consortium (FCIC) announced its intent to issue a Directed Funding Opportunity (DFO) aimed at accelerating innovation and adoption of new practices and technologies to determine the root cause of biomass handling failures and designing solutions.  FCIC is a collaborative network of eight DOE national laboratories dedicated to understanding and addressing technical risks in developing and scaling up biomass harvest, storage, preprocessing, and conversion technologies.
 
The DFO is open to industrial and academic partners interested in collaborating with research experts and leveraging unique technology capabilities at the DOE national laboratories to address the most pressing industrial feedstock handling, preprocessing, and conversion challenges related to feedstock chemical, physical, and mechanical variability.  FCIC anticipates awarding between $500,000 and $2,000,000 for a project duration of 12 to 18 months.
 
FCIC plans to issue the DFO through its website.

Tags: FCIC, DFO, DOE, Research

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 12, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that its additional production capacity for renewable diesel, renewable aviation fuel, and raw materials for various biochemical uses will be located in Singapore.  Following the decision, Neste will develop the technical design for the new product line, with the goal of securing a final investment decision by the end of 2018 and starting production by 2022.  The project will expand the capacity of Neste’s Singapore refinery increased to three million tons by 2020 and will incorporate an enhanced pre-treatment unit in preparation for the use of increasingly poor-quality waste materials.


 

 
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