By Lynn L. Bergeson
On July 16, 2018, Anellotech and Suntory announced that a new milestone had been reached in developing a 100 percent biobased plastic bottle. Anellotech is using a thermal catalytic process called Bio-TCatTM to confirm non-food based feedstocks into BTX aromatics, renewable chemicals that are structurally identical to traditional plastic components. The BTX is now undergoing purification studies to make bio-paraxylene, a key chemical for the renewable bottles. David Sudolsky, President & CEO of Anellotech, stated “[f]ollowing our announcements earlier this year on process development and continuous operation, we are glad that significant progress continues at our TCat-8® pilot plant. We continue to move the technology towards commercialization, and shipping the pilot plant’s product for downstream evaluation is another major milestone. Having collaborated with Suntory since 2012 to advance development of cost-competitive bio-aromatics, we hope bio-based plastics made from our Bio-TCatTM process and a 100% bio-based bottle soon become a reality.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On July 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management announced it was amending the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement to add 12 sections that designate product categories within which biobased products will be afforded federal procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors via a final rule. 83 Fed. Reg. 31841. The Federal Register publication states that this final rule “designates the proposed product categories within which biobased products will be afforded Federal procurement preference” and that “USDA has determined that each of the product categories being designated under this rulemaking meets the necessary statutory requirements; that they are being produced with biobased products; and that their procurement will carry out the following objectives of section 9002: to improve demand for biobased products; to spur development of the industrial base through value-added agricultural processing and manufacturing in rural communities; and to enhance the Nation’s energy security by substituting biobased products for products derived from imported oil and natural gas.”
The final rule revises the definition of the following categories in an effort to clarify or add examples of intermediates that can be included in each of these categories:
- Intermediates -- plastic resins (revised to include the term “polymers”);
- Intermediates -- chemicals (revised to list additional materials such as viscosity reducers, rheology modifiers, adhesion agents, polyols, and polymers);
- Intermediates -- paint and coating components (revised to add additional examples of paint and coating components, such as humectants, open time additives, and polymers); and
- Intermediates -- binders (revised to expand on the types of chemicals that typically make up binders, to include examples of materials that binders can be used to formulate, and to include the phrase “binders are generally polymers or polymer precursors (such as epoxies) and include the polymeric materials used to formulate coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers”).
This final rule will become effective on August 9, 2018.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On July 5, 2018, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd announced that it had developed a 100 percent biobased, thermally formable, biodegradable material, that is suitable for furniture applications. This product is an attractive alternative to wood and other biocomposite materials that are already available in the market, with the added benefit of formality and coloring properties. "All the goals we set were achieved: the material is 100% bio-based, cellulose fibres account for a significant proportion, it looks good and it has excellent performance characteristics," states Lisa Wikström, Research Team Leader from VTT. At the end of the product life-cycle, it can be re-used, composted (degrading into carbon dioxide and water), or burned for energy.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On June 19, 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) published a press release announcing the availability of a final report entitled Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology. According to the National Academies, the final report concludes that “[s]ynthetic biology expands the possibilities for creating new weapons -- including making existing bacteria and viruses more harmful -- while decreasing the time required to engineer such organisms.” Some malicious applications of synthetic biology that may not seem plausible right now could become achievable with future advances.
The final report, which builds on and supersedes an interim report released in August 2017, explores and envisions potential misuses of synthetic biology, including concepts that are regularly discussed in open meetings. In the interim report, the Committee on Strategies for Identifying and Addressing Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology proposed a strategic framework intended to identify and prioritize potential areas of concern associated with the field and to help biodefense analysts as they consider the current and future synthetic biology capabilities. The Committee designed the framework for analyzing existing biotechnology tools to evaluate the dangers at present, understand how various technologies compare with and complement each other, and assess the implications of new experimental outcomes. More information is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) memorandum.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On June 18, 2018, DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO)-funded Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC) announced its first graduates from the algal certificate program at Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. DOE states that these first ATEC graduates “received their Associate Applied Science Degree in Controlled Environment Agriculture with a certificate in Algae Cultivation” on May 12, 2018. The program was conceptualized and designed by ATEC members, including professors, algal commercial leaders, community college instructors, and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The announcement states that the ATEC curriculum was designed “with inputs from America’s leading algal companies to include education and training in specific job skills, thus allowing students’ skills to transfer immediately into professional careers.”
On June 18, 2018, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) and The Acta Group (Acta®), presented “New TSCA and Green Chemistry Innovation” at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, Oregon. This presentation covered specific changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the impact of those changes for new chemicals, including innovative “green” chemicals. In line with the conference theme, “product innovation using greener chemistries,” Dr. Engler outlined key steps to take when preparing to submit a new chemical for review, including the following items that a robust Premanufacture Notice (PMN) should include:
- Detailed descriptions of all potential releases and exposures throughout the supply chain, including container and equipment cleaning activities
- Identities of analogs that have measured data
- All data on physical-chemical properties
By Kathleen M. Roberts
On June 13, 2018, representatives of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) and representatives of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff to discuss the two groups’ white paper, “Proposal for a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Representation and Equivalency Determinations for Renewable and Sustainable Bio-based Chemicals.” BRAG and BIO members provided a presentation for EPA staff that outlined the regulatory challenges and market impendence facing the biobased industry related to current naming conventions. BRAG and BIO look forward to further dialogue with EPA on this crucial issue.