On August 5, 2014, Genomatica announced that it will be focusing on developing complete process technologies for the biobased production of major nylon intermediates -- including hexamethylenediamine, caprolactam, and adipic acid (HMD, CPL, and ADA). A copy of Genomatica's press release on this announcement is available online.
On July 30, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will provide a total of $11.3 million in funding to support DOE's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. The money will go to two projects designed to help facilitate and promote the production of "cost-competitive, high-performance carbon fiber material from renewable, non-food-based feedstocks, such as agricultural residues and woody biomass." Under the projects, the Southern Research Institute of Birmingham, Alabama, will receive up to $5.9 million to innovate on a multi-step catalytic process for conversion of sugars from non-food biomass to acrylonitrile, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of Golden, Colorado, will receive up to $5.3 million to investigate and optimize multiple pathways to bio-acrylonitrile. A copy of DOE's press release on the announcement is available online.
This week, DOE hosted its seventh annual biomass conference. This year's conference focused on "Growing the Future Bioeconomy." Over 500 attendees from throughout the country and around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the industry. Keynote speakers included U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy from DOE, and Kate Brandt from the Federal Environmental Executive, Council on Environmental Quality. Policy and technology innovations were discussed in breakout sessions with a focus on how to best position the bioeconomy for future growth. While biofuels were a focus of this conference, there was also interest in other bioproducts that can further grow the bioeconomy. This was explored in a breakout session titled "Integration of Supply Chains II: Bioproducts -- Enabling Biofuels and Growing the Bioeconomy," where industry professionals and researchers discussed how increasing production and commercialization of bioproducts can bring in more revenue while also spurring the production of biofuels. Photos, quotes, and insights shared by a variety of sources can be found on Twitter by searching #biomass2014. A copy of the conference agenda is available online. Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) and the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) were proud sponsors of Biomass 2014.
On July 14, 2014, EPA announced recipients of funding to develop and commercialize innovative, sustainable technologies to address current environmental issues. Among the recipients were the following companies pursuing biobased products:
* Sustainable Bioproducts, LLC, Bozeman, Montana, for Direct Conversion of Municipal and Agricultural Wastes to Biodiesel and Ethanol Utilizing a Unique Extremophilic Fungus.
* Environmental Fuel Research, LLC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Biofuel Production from Grease Trap Waste.
More information is available online.
In a July 16, 2014, announcement, Evonik stated it has closed on an equity investment in Biosynthetic Technologies, LLC (BT), a specialist in biobased lubricants headquartered in Irvine, California. BT has developed and manufactures a new class of biobased synthetic oils called estolides that are used primarily in the passenger car motor oil and industrial lubricant sectors. Field trials have shown that the technical characteristics of the biobased synthetic oils made by BT are exceptionally good, and include the ability to combat soot buildup in engines, which helps keep fuel consumption low. In addition to Evonik, BP Ventures also participated as a second strategic investor in this current funding round that focuses on growth. BP Ventures and Monsanto Company have already invested in previous financing rounds.
BT's new class of biobased synthetic oils are made from organic fatty acids found in plant oils and have numerous uses in the lubricant, chemical, and cosmetics industries. They are biodegradable, nontoxic, and they do not bioaccumulate in marine life. BT holds a broad patent portfolio to protect these novel biosynthetic oils that are marketed under the trade name LubriGreen® Biosynthetic Oils. A copy of the press release is available online.
In a July 9, 2014, press release, the European Union (EU) announced the launch of seven public-private partnerships, established under the EU's new research funding program Horizon 2020. They represent a total investment of € 19.5 billion into research and innovation over the next seven years, where the EU contribution of € 7.3 billion will unlock a € 12.2 billion investment from the private sector and the Member States. The press release is available online.
These partnerships work in a number of fields crucial for Europe's economic growth, creation of jobs, industrial competitiveness, and well-being of citizens, one of which is a partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). The priorities of this new € 3.7 billion public-private partnership, the Bio-based Industries (BBI) program, include doubling of the share of biobased chemicals produced in Europe (from 10 percent to 20 percent); an increase of biomass mobilization by 10 percent as well as a reduction of imports of protein for feed by 15 percent and fertilizer components used for feedstock production by 10 percent; and meeting of the 15 percent target increase in waste and byproduct utilization by 2020.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, stated: "The bioeconomy has huge potential that is attracting investments all around the world. With this new partnership, we want to harness innovative technologies to convert Europe's untapped renewable resources and waste into greener everyday products such as food, feed, chemicals, materials and fuels, all sourced and made in Europe."
Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes, stated: "The BBI 2014 Call for Proposals is a first step in a long-term strategy that will deliver tangible social, economic and environmental results. It is the outcome of a year-long effort involving the European Commission and the industry following an extensive consultation of experts and stakeholders. It is a visionary call that lays the foundation for an increasingly ambitious and successful initiative." More details on BIC are available online.
As lignin supplies rise on the back of growing cellulosic feedstock utilization, commercialization opportunities of up to $242 billion are emerging in 13 select chemicals, according to a July 10, 2014, news release from Lux Research. Lignin, a component of lignocellulosic biomass and a common byproduct stream from cellulosic conversion processes, has a potential market worth of $242 billion across 13 select products alone, but commercialization of these lignin-derived chemicals such as BTX (a mixture of benzene, toluene, and xylene), and cyclohexanol lags growing feedstock supplies.
Today, the commercial sale of lignin is limited. Even though the pulp and paper industry produces about 50 million metric tons (MT), most is burned for power with only one million MT reaching the chemicals market. The supply of lignin from other sources is set to grow, however. Growing production of fuels from lignocellulosic feedstocks alone is projected to process up to 2.9 million MT in 2017, creating huge opportunities for the creation of higher-value chemicals.
"Lignin is capable of producing a variety of straight chain, cyclic and aromatic chemicals, each with market sizes ranging from the tens of millions of dollars up to the hundred-billion-dollar range," stated Julia Allen, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, "Finding Untapped Value: Converting Lignin to Higher Value Chemicals."
"But creating higher-value chemicals requires technology development to balance feedstock variability, lignin separation effects, depolymerization, and product separation challenges, which still has significant work ahead," she added.
The news release is available online.
Learn how to pre-screen new chemicals using EPA's models and methods during this hands-on, three-day workshop co-hosted by BRAG, EPA, and George Washington University (GWU) School of Law. You will learn about a variety of tools, methods, and models that can be used to assess the hazard and potential exposure of chemicals early in the development process and anticipate regulatory action before submitting the chemical to EPA for review. Sustainable Futures (SF) graduates can be eligible to receive reduced regulatory review time for dual Premanufacture Notification (PMN)/Test Market Exemption Application (TMEA) submissions. Presenters include Dr. Peter Ranslow (Consortium for Environmental Risk Management (CERM)) and EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) staff. For more information on SF and benefits afforded to workshop attendees, visit online. A flyer with full details is available online.
On July 2, 2014, Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (Marrone), a leading global provider of biobased pest management and plant health products, celebrated the official opening of its Marrone Michigan Manufacturing (M3) facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony and plant tours. A copy of Marrone's press release on this announcement is available online.