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 June 21, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that 32 small businesses across 18 states will receive a total of $32 million in grants to develop clean energy technologies that have a strong potential for commercialization and job creation.  The funding was provided by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  The 32 projects were selected based on scientific and technical merit, as well as the commercial potential of the project.  Seven of the 32 proposed projects involve technology for bioenergy and biobased production, specifically:

  • Shockkwave, LLC received $1,000,000 to increase production of domestic, low greenhouse gas biofuel by harvesting corn fiber from corn grain to produce cellulosic biofuels;
  • Mainstream Engineering Corporation received $999,993 to improve the oil yield and reduce aqueous byproducts during hydrothermal liquefaction of wet wastes;
  • BioHybrid Solutions LLC received $995,569 to make biodiesel a cost-effective, sustainable fuel by using new polymer-modified enzyme to convert efficiently cheap and renewable feedstocks into an inexpensive, high-quality biodiesel;
  • CF Technologies, Inc. received $999,997 to convert rancid, no-value, environmentally adverse brown grease into a high quality, valued biodiesel fuel;
  • Sironix Renewables received $1,000,000 to implement a new catalyst technology that produces a new class of detergent molecules from renewable sources that are superior and cheaper than current detergents, enabling detergent formulations with higher concentrations, which reduces chemical environmental impact and manufacturing and transportation energy consumption;
  • MOgene Green Chemicals received $1,000,000 to develop a sustainable, biobased biocatalyst to capture methane, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases present in biogas or natural gas sources and convert them into high value products; and
  • NexTech Materials, Ltd. received $1,000,000 to create new catalysts that will allow more efficient generation of fuels from biogas.

More information on the recipients is available at the DOE Office of Science website.


 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 20, 2017, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that nearly 100 biodiesel advocates from across the country visited Capitol Hill to urge Congress to bring back the biodiesel tax incentive as proposed in both chambers of Congress.  Industry participants consisted of biodiesel producers, distributors, and feedstock suppliers from over 24 states.  According to Anne Steckel, the Vice President of Federal Affairs at NBB, the bipartisan biodiesel tax incentive should be reinstated since it helps support tens of thousands of jobs nationwide and the proposed reforms address the unintended consequences of the credit.  The legislative proposals in Congress restructure the incentive so that U.S. producers qualify for the credit, which cuts off subsidies for foreign manufacturing and reduces the potential for tax fraud.

Tags: NBB, Biodiesel, Tax

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 19, 2017, Synthetic Genomics Inc. announced a breakthrough in its collaboration with ExxonMobil involving the modification of an algae strain that more than doubled its oil content to 40 percent without significantly inhibiting the strain’s growth.  Synthetic Genomics researchers identified a genetic switch that could be fine-tuned to regulate the conversion of carbon to oil in the algae species, Nannochloropsis gaditana, and established a proof-of-concept approach for the new process.  The achievement is a key milestone in the partnership that aims to demonstrate that algae can be incredibly productive as a renewable energy source with a corresponding positive contribution to our environment.  Additional research, testing, and analysis is required to ensure the process is commercially viable. 


 
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The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology takes place July 23-26, 2017, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, and features two new tracks on Flavors, Fragrances and Food Ingredients, and Agricultural Crop Technologies and Biomass Supply.  Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will co-host a Bioeconomy Leaders and Innovators Reception on July 25, 2017, with Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.  More details to come.  Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist with B&C, will be attending the conference and will be pleased to discuss questions attendees may have about their own biotechnology products. 
 
There is still time to register online.  We look forward to seeing you there!


 

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 12, 2017, 28 companies representing the advanced and cellulosic biofuel industry sent a letter to the members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee  requesting their support for the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517), which is scheduled to be marked up in the Environment and Public Works Committee before the August recess.  The letter claims that the Act, which would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent, is vital to the advanced biofuel industry since it would allow E15, a more environmentally-friendly and affordable fuel, to be sold year round and, thus, would create marked headroom for next generation fuels.  While the signatories commit to supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in its entirety, they state that the RVP issue will not only ensure that E15 can be sold year round but will also provide an opportunity for advanced and cellulosic fuels to compete at the pump.  According to the letter, moving to E15 would reduce the cost of gasoline by 5 to 15 cents per gallon, and lower emissions harmful to the environment.
 
On June 14, 2017, the Committee held a legislative hearing on the Act.  In his opening statement, Senator Carper (D-DE) stated that his primary objective is to ensure that the ethanol blends above 10 percent do not contribute more or less to ozone pollution than ethanol blends below 10 percent, as is currently assumed.  Carper stated his interest in learning whether advanced biofuels would benefit from the increased market share that would result from the Act, what impacts the Act would have on the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market, and what more can be done to add transparency and certainty to an opaque market.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 7, 2017, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with innovation facilitator NineSigma, announced the launch of a global competition to identify new and innovative uses for corn as a renewable feedstock for making sustainable chemicals with significant market demand.  The Consider Corn Challenge is intended to be a starting point to help industry realize the full potential of corn by inspiring new concepts, approaches, and technologies that will help drive innovation.  NCGA will select up to six winning proposals from industry, academia, and other research institutions that consider new ways to utilize corn and maximize its contributions to the economy.   Winners will be announced in February 2018 and each will receive $25,000.  Responses to the Consider Corn Challenge are due by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on September 28, 2017.  More information on the challenge is available at the NineSigma website.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 14, 2017, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) announced that biotech industry veteran Vonnie Estes would receive the 4th annual Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology. Estes, an independent business consultant, will be presented the Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology during a lunch plenary session at the BIO World Congress on July 25, 2017.  Each year, the award celebrates a pioneering woman in the industrial biotechnology sector who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the biobased economy and biotech innovation in honor of Rosalind Franklin.  Estes was selected as a result of her numerous contributions to the commercial development of new biotechnologies, creating revolutionary products that are good for people and the planet.  Throughout her career, Estes has held leadership positions at DuPont, GranBio, Caribou Biosciences, Monsanto, and Syngenta.  Estes’ role as an accomplished industry leader with decades of experience commercializing industrial biotechnology innovations and developing emerging companies was determined to honor Rosalind Franklin’s legacy.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 15, 2017, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist at Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), presented at Products as Solutions to Real-World Sustainability Challenges: Incentives & Barriers, a session at the 2017 Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference (GC&E).  Dr. Engler’s presentation, “TSCA, its effects on renewable feedstocks, and how TSCA reform has changed things,” provided an overview of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and aspects of TSCA reform that impact green chemistry, including both biobased materials and sourcing from byproducts or other wastes.  The presentation discussed how the use of a chemical substance determines TSCA regulatory requirements for the entire supply chain, including starting materials, intermediates, and catalysts (including enzymes and microbes).  To demonstrate this point, Dr. Engler reviewed scenarios under which TSCA reporting requirements for byproduct generators and processors would change based on how the byproduct is processed and used.  Dr. Engler highlighted the need for communication on TSCA reporting throughout the supply chain to ensure compliance and minimize potential commercial disruptions.
 
For more information or to request copies of the presentation materials, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


 

 
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By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the 2017 Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the 21st Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.  The award recognizes landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn potential environmental issues into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.  The American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute convened an independent panel of technical experts to judge the 2017 submissions and make recommendations to EPA regarding the winners. 
 
This year's winners and technologies are:

Over the course of the Green Chemistry Challenge’s 22 year history, EPA estimates that winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.  While we are saddened that this very successful voluntary program is slated to be defunded in the President's FY2018 budget, we applaud this year’s winners.  Those who value the green chemistry program should consider contacting their Senators and Representatives to encourage continued support of this program.  It has had outsized benefits for such a modestly funded program. 

 
More information on the winners is available on EPA’s website.

 
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By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced that up to $9 million in funding will be available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) in fiscal year (FY) 2017.  Projects funded by BRDI will focus on developing economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increasing the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products, and diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio.  DOE and NIFA are soliciting applications from all interested parties, including for-profit entities, universities, nonprofits, and national laboratories, to address any or all of the following legislatively mandated technical areas:

  • Feedstocks development;
  • Biofuels and biobased products development; and
  • Biofuels development analysis.
DOE anticipates funding one to six awards and NIFA anticipates funding three to 14 awards, with awards ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.  Concept papers are due by July 7, 2017, and full applications are due by September 22, 2017.  More information on BRDI is available on DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Exchange website
Tags: DOE, USDA, NIFA, BRDI, EERE

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 6, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the winners of its Imagine Chemistry challenge.  The following winners have been awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business to help bring their ideas to market:

  • Ecovia Renewables was awarded for its fermentation technology to make polyglutamic acid, which can be used to make thickeners for personal care products and other uses;
  • Industrial Microbes was awarded for its solution to use genetically modified microorganisms to turn CO2 and natural gas into key chemical building blocks, such as ethylene oxide; and
  • Renmatix was awarded for its technology to use pressurized water to break down plant biomass into cellulosic products with a range of end-use applications.
The awardees were selected from a group of 20 finalists that participated in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s Deventer Open Innovation Center.  In addition to the winners, seven other finalists were awarded prizes, such as a research agreement with AkzoNobel, chemical research support from AkzoNobel, a rent voucher for the Deventer Open Innovation Center, partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG, and partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG.  More information on the Imagine Chemistry Challenge is available in the BRAG blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge.”

 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 6, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that it would direct a large amount of its resources to researching waste and waste raw materials.  In the future, Neste aims to produce biofuels and bioplastics from waste and residues, as well as utilize waste plastics as a raw material.  Currently, waste fats and residues from meat and fish processing industries, as well as used cooking oil, account for nearly 80 percent of the raw materials in Neste's renewable products.  The aim of investing in the research venture is to find increasingly lower grade waste and residue raw materials that have no other significant uses, such as residues from the forestry industry, algae, and waste plastics.  The same NEXBTL technology that allows Neste to refine low-quality waste fats into high-quality fully renewable fuel can be used to produce other renewable products, such as aviation fuel and raw materials for bioplastics.


 
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By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) and Alberta Innovates are hosting SPARK 2017 to support game-changing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and advance the bioindustrial sector.  The conference will take place November 6-8, 2017, in Edmonton, Canada.  SPARK 2017 aims to inspire, motivate, and support researchers and innovators by connecting them with others working to advance innovative technology across four key areas, including:

  • Bioindustrial Development and Biological GHG Emissions;
  • Industrial Processes and Energy Efficiency;
  • Reducing GHG Footprint from Fossil Fuels; and
  • Low-emitting Electricity Supply.
Abstract submissions are due by June 19, 2017.

 
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