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.


 

The 6th Annual Next Generation Biobased and Sustainable Chemicals Summit took place this week in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Summit was co-located with the InformEx Fine and Specialty Chemical Conference, which provided expanded programming and exposure to a larger audience. Senior executives from Verdezyne, Elevance Renewable Sciences, Lanzatech, Succinity, Novasep, Corbion Purac and more joined with researchers, financiers, and feedstock providers to discuss current developments and challenges and map out a clear path for commercialization.

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) Senior Policy Advisor Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., led a lively discussion on the viability and commercial advantages/disadvantages of a variety of renewable feedstocks with Clement Choy, Ph.D., Senior Director, Product Innovation and Advanced Technology of consumer goods brand Seventh Generation; Stafano Facco, New Business Development Director at European bioplastics company Novamont SpA; Stacy Jordahl, Vice President, Bio Refining and Emerging Technologies, for MeadWestVaco's Specialty Chemicals Division; Ray Miller, Chief Business Officer for Verdezyne, a company making biochemicals via proprietary fermentation technology; and John Shaw, CEO of Itaconix Corp., which makes specialty chemicals from itaconic acid produced from biobased feedstocks via fermentation.

The speakers provided candid feedback on the impact of reduced oil prices and the volatility of that market on their particular product lines. They also provided unique insight in value chain interactions and customer needs related to biobased products.

Kathleen M. Roberts, Executive Director of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) and program advisor for the Summit, reported that the program allowed for robust dialogue among varied biobased industry stakeholders, thus facilitating participants' further understanding of the challenges faced by the diverse groups represented at the Summit, and their interest in expanding the biobased market.

Engler and Roberts will both be speaking at next month's ABLC 2015 in Washington, D.C., a gathering of over 400 of the leaders in the advanced bioeconomy -- biofuels, biochemicals, policy, finance, and government -- organized and presented by Biofuels Digest. Register for this important conference online.

 

 

On January 27, 2015, BASF left the research and development (R&D) collaboration with Novozymes and Cargill that it had joined in 2012. Novozymes and Cargill have worked to develop a process to produce biobased 3-hydroxypropionic (3-HP) and acrylic acid from renewable materials since 2008. In BASF's absence, the two remaining companies are looking for a third partner for the project. The R&D project has already produced 3-HP in pilot scale and converted 3-HP to glacial acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers. The goal is now to commercialize 3-HP to biobased chemicals in order to bring customers sustainable alternatives to petroleum based chemicals.

 
Tags: research, 3-HP

 

 

By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) renewed their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), continuing the partnership centered on the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The award cycle returned to its original schedule with the 2015 ceremony set to coincide with the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, as it had until 2013. This year the conference will be held on July 14-16, 2015, in North Bethesda, Maryland. This recommitment between EPA and ACS GCI is an expression of the continued dedication each has to creating opportunities for the growth and development of green chemistry. 2015 is especially significant as it represents the 20th year for the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The award ceremony and conference should highlight both the success of years past and the potential of years to come.

 

There are other positive indicators about the direction of green chemistry in the coming year as well. On January 5, 2015, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) published “Predictions and Outlook for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2015” (The Outlook). It covers the full range of OCSPP issues, including green chemistry and Design for the Environment (DfE).

 

In 2014, Jim Jones, OCSPP’s Assistant Administrator, continued his focus on green chemistry and DfE. Jones visited award winners to gain a deeper understanding of their technologies and businesses. Jones’s engagement in both programs should continue in 2015. DfE is undergoing revitalization in 2015.

 

EPA is expected to reveal the new Safer Product Labeling logo. DfE is also looking to expand its Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) and is providing new opportunities for DfE partners to be recognized for their efforts.

 

The New Year will also see more interactions between green chemistry and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). As you may know, manufacturers must submit “premanufacture notices” (PMN) to EPA prior to manufacturing or importing any substance not listed on the TSCA Inventory or otherwise exempt. TSCA allows EPA to review new substances for unreasonable risk to human health or the environment.

 

Most green chemistry technologies are classified as “new” under TSCA rules, so they must clear this hurdle. Some green chemistry technologies have drawbacks in one phase of their lifecycle and benefits in another. For example, a biobased substance may be less toxic to humans, but more toxic to fish relative to the petroleum-based incumbent. The challenge for EPA is how to consider these impacts, both positive and negative, especially relative to existing chemicals in commerce.  Historically, EPA has only focused on the substance itself, its hazard, releases, and exposures, to determine “unreasonable risk.” Biobased chemicals, using waste as a feedstock, and greener production methods present new challenges to EPA as these benefits are upstream of the substance itself.  As discussed in The Outlook, some green chemistry technologies have languished in the new chemicals review process or have been subject to requirements different from those imposed on nearly identical, existing chemicals. To avoid undue delays, some submitters have taken advantage of voluntary pollution prevention (P2) statements in PMNs to clarify the benefits of the novel technology to aid EPA in its decision-making. Even with this additional information, it is not a trivial task for EPA to compare and evaluate the relative risks and benefits at different stages of a chemical’s lifecycle. Novel biobased feedstocks, intermediates, and products will challenge both EPA and industry in 2015.

 

While some aspects of TSCA may be a barrier to new green chemistry technologies, TSCA can also be a driver for change. EPA regulatory action on existing chemicals will provide new drivers for companies to develop and deploy green chemistry. Near the end of 2014, EPA published its update on Work Plan and Action Plan chemicals. In particular, decisions on trichloroethylene, dichloromethane, benzedine dyes, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, phthalates, and long-chain perfluoroalkyl carbonates all present increasingly important targets for green chemistry innovations. Similarly, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is moving ahead with its actions on priority chemicals and, of course, implementing the Safer Consumer Products Regulations.

 

Information about chemical design may get a boost from the maturation of EPA’s Computation Toxicology tools that allow rapid screening for endocrine disruption. The coming year is likely to also see progress on TSCA reform, which may include provisions relating to green chemistry.

 

While EPA struggles with diminished funding and diminished numbers of senior scientists (mostly through retirement), the fundamental prospects for green chemistry remain sound: There are many problems to solve and many scientists and engineers working to find sustainable ways to solve them. EPA and ACS GCI will continue to be central to supporting and nurturing green chemistry.

 Reprinted by permission from The Nexus Blog, a publication of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® 

 

 
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Nominations for the 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Awards are now being accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nominations for the awards are due December 31, 2014, and the final awardees are expected to be announced in July 2015. The Awards cover six categories: academic; small business; greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions; designing greener chemicals; and climate change. EPA allows companies to re-submit past nomination packets as long as the technology milestone was within the last five years. EPA reassures submitters that it is definitely worth considering another bite at the apple and past winners have, in fact, been based on re-submissions. The Nomination Package for the 2015 Awards is available on the EPA website.


 

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) recently announced three new subtopics related to bioenergy under its SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs:

* Design and Fabrication of Solids Handling for Biomass Conversion Systems -- Grant applications are sought for designs, prototype equipment, and procedures that enable continuous biomass solids handling at a cost ten percent lower than currently available.

* Low-Cost Coatings for Advanced Thermal Processes in Metal Combustors -- Grant applications are sought for the development of low-cost protective coatings for metal combustors. Coating approaches potentially of interest may include, but are not limited to the following: ceramic coatings, alloy coatings, aluminizing treatments, surface modifications/reactive surface treatments, thermal spray, wash coats, vapor deposition or sputtering (if sufficiently low cost), plating, and porcelains/enamels.

* Solid-Liquid Separations for Algal Systems -- Grant applications are sought for the integration of multiple separation technologies for the solid-liquid separation of algae. The applicant should consider as a minimum the following technology options for integration: vacuum filters, pressure filters, hydroclones, screens and/or sieving, and gravity tables.


The projects will help small businesses develop and deliver market-driven clean energy technologies. Small businesses that are selected for any EERE SBIR/STTR funding keep the rights to new technologies they develop and are encouraged to transfer these technologies to the marketplace. More details can be found on the EERE website, including a full list of topics and application instructions. Interested applicants can register for the EERE Cleantech SBIR Webinar on December 8, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. (EST) to 1:00 p.m. (EST).
 


 

Many of the top policymakers, leaders, and stakeholders in the bioeconomy gathered in San Francisco this week for ABLCNext. The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) Executive Director Kathleen Roberts participated in the opening panel of the conference, "US Elections, What Happened, What Now," where she and other trade group leaders discussed likely impacts on the bioeconomy with the swing toward Republicans in federal and state races. Regarding the outlook for reform of TSCA with the new Congress, Roberts stated "given the complexity of the existing TSCA regulations and the limited time for the new leadership in Congress to make their mark before the next election season arrives, it seems unlikely that anyone would choose TSCA reform as his/her champion cause. That being said, biobased industry representatives should engage in conversing with key D.C. stakeholders in an effort to ensure their elected officials understand the ramifications of TSCA on their businesses."


ABLCNext progenitor Biofuels Digest revealed the "30 Hottest Companies in Biobased Chemicals & Materials for 2014-15," the "50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy for 2014-15," and the "40 Hottest Smaller Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy for 2014-15" at a reception and awards ceremony on Monday night, November 10, 2014. In recognition of their innovative technologies and thriving business models, BRAG members BASF (fourth), Elevance (seventh), and Novozymes (11th) all placed in the top 15 on the biobased chemicals list, and showed strongly on the bioenergy list, with Novozymes at fourth, BASF at 15th, and Elevance at 25th.
 


 

October 16, 2014, was a banner day for green chemistry in the nation's capital with the 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards ceremony, and the Green Chemistry Market Roundtable preceding it. The roundtable included representatives from industry, including the 2014 award winners; EPA and other federal agency officials; and others involved with green chemistry and biobased chemicals and products. BRAG Executive Director, Kathleen Roberts, and Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) Lynn Bergeson were invited guests and participated in the roundtable discussion on green chemistry innovations and strategies for realizing the environmental market potential for these innovations.


The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards were presented at a ceremony later in the day. There were five categories within the challenge: academic; small business; greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions; and designing greener chemicals. The 2014 winners include Professor Shannon Stahl of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as Amyris, Inc., Solazyme, Inc., QD Vision, Inc., and the Solberg Company. In EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) Assistant Administrator Jim Jones' blog post about the awards and this year's winners, he stated "[t]hese scientists are helping to crack the code and solve some of the most challenging problems facing our modern society. They are turning climate risk and other problems into a business opportunity, spurring innovation and investment. They are reducing waste -- energy, chemicals and water waste -- while cutting manufacturing costs, and sparking investments." EPA has received more than 1,500 nominations in the 19 years of the challenge program. More information on the program and a copy of the EPA press release detailing the technologies of the award recipients are available on the EPA Green Chemistry website.


2015 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Presidential Green Chemistry Award and EPA can be expected to make the awards ceremony a major event. BRAG members and others should start now to think about competing for this prestigious award.
 


 
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