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.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On August 12, 2020, DOE issued an RFI to obtain industry, academia, and research community input on DOE’s hydrogen and fuel cells R&D and demonstration activities and strategies, including its H2@Scale initiative. DOE hopes that feedback received will help its Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s (HFTO) research priorities and goals to ensure that they address current and future needs of the hydrogen and fuel cells industry. The information will also help HFTO to guide the work being conducted through National Laboratory consortia launched to focus on challenges specific to electrolyzers and heavy-duty fuel cell applications. RFI topics include: H2@Scale; R&D priorities; near-, medium-, and long-term strategy; and approaches to foster collaboration. Responses must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on September 15, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

The University of Minnesota Extension (UME) recently published a report titled “Economic Contribution of the Biobased Industrial Products Industry in Minnesota: 2019.” The report accounts for the economic impacts from the Minnesota Bioincentive Program enacted in 2015. Some of the key findings outlined by UME include but are not limited to the ones outlined below:

  • In 2019, companies claiming the Minnesota Bioincentive received $1.5 million in incentives. For every tax dollar invested in incentives, $407.10 is generated in the economy. In addition, for every dollar of incentive, approximately $8.90 is collected in taxes.
  • Construction activities of Minnesota biobased industrial product companies generated an estimated $1.2 billion of economic activity in the state, including $540.6 million in labor income. These activities also supported employment for more than 8,000 workers and generated approximately $46.5 million in tax collections.
  • Operations of Minnesota’s biobased industrial product companies generated an estimated $610.7 million of economic activity resulting from their operations, including $127 million in labor income. It also supported employment for more than 2,000 workers in the state and generated an estimated $13.3 million in tax collections.

According to the report, these impacts are annual and will continue to grow as long as companies do. A full copy of the report is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On September 18, 2020, ELI will host a webinar titled “Advanced Biofuels: Fuel for the Future?” from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EDT). The webinar, as implied by its title, will focus on the practical and policy challenges and opportunities facing advanced biofuels and the impacts of the coronavirus on biofuel production and research. Panelists may include:

  • Lauren Helen Leyden, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, L.L.P. (invited);
  • Lynn McKay, Assistant General Counsel, Volkswagen Group of America (invited);
  • Shailesh Sahay, Senior Regulatory Counsel, POET, Inc.;
  • Luke Tonachel, Director, Clean Vehicles and Fuels Group, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); and
  • Stephanie Wettstein, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Montana State University (invited).

The webinar will be open to the public; registration, however, is required. Click here to register.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On July 20, 2020, DOE announced that approximately $64 Million in funding for 18 projects to advance the H2@Scale vision. H2@Scale is a concept that explores the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the United States to enable resiliency of the power generation and transmission sectors while aligning diverse domestic industries, competitiveness, and job creation. Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO), the 18 selected projects will advance hydrogen storage and infrastructure technologies.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On July 31, 2020, DOE announced more than $97 million in funding for 33 projects to support research and development (R&D) of high-impact technology to accelerate the U.S. bioeconomy. The aim is for the selected projects to improve the performance and lower the cost and risk of technologies that can be used to produce biopower, biofuels, and bioproducts from biomass and waste resources. Selected projects will address the following R&D areas:

  • Scale-up of bench applications to reduce scale-up risks for biofuel and bioproduct processes;
  • Waste-to-energy strategies, including strategies for municipal solid waste; wet wastes, like food and manures; and municipal wastewater treatment;
  • Cost reduction of algal biofuels by improving carbon efficiency and by employing direct air capture technologies;
  • Quantification of the economic and environmental benefits associated with growing energy crops, focusing on restoring water quality and soil health;
  • Development and testing of low-emission, high-efficiency residential wood heaters;
  • Innovative technologies to manage major forms of urban and suburban waste, with a focus on using plastic waste to make recycled products and using wastes to produce low-cost biopower; and
  • Scalable carbon dioxide electrocatalysis technologies.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced its 2021 call for nominations for the ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (SC&E) Lectureship Awards. The awards will recognize the contributions of early career investigators from around the world who are doing exceptional research impacting sustainability, green chemistry, or green engineering. One award recipient will be chosen from three regions: the Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Asia/Pacific. Awardees will not only receive an award plaque but also an honorarium of $1,000 and travel and accommodation funding of up to $1,500 to attend and present at the 2021 Green Chemistry and Engineering (GC&E) Conference in Reston, VA, from June 14 through 16, 2021. Eligible nominees include:

  • Faculty members within ten years or less of their initial academic appointment;
  • Industrial and other non-academic scientists within ten years or less from their last professional training (terminal degree or postdoc); and
  • Individuals who have taken formal family leave which affects their eligibility under the ten-year timeline described above.

Self-nominations are allowed. The deadline for nominations is August 31, 2020. Selected winners will be announced in the fall of 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

ACS has also recently announced a call for symposia topics for its 25th GC&E conference mentioned in the article above. The theme of the conference is “Sustainable Production to Advance the Circular Economy,” which directly links to the United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. The proposal submission deadline is October 9, 2020, and notifications of acceptance will be announced by November 20, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On July 2, 2020, DOE announced that it has selected seven projects to conduct R&D to accelerate the adoption of performance-advantaged biofuel blendstocks. A total of $1.94 million in funding is available for the projects, which will leverage National Laboratory capabilities as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. The Co-Optima initiative focuses on simultaneous innovations in fuels and engines that can boost fuel economy and vehicle performance while reducing emissions.

Each of the Co-Optima initiative awardees will receive up to $300,000 in National Laboratory assistance for experimental or computational projects that leverage:

  • Capabilities in areas of bioblendstock fuel property and production research;
  • Combustion performance modeling;
  • Bioblendstock fuel property and production research;
  • Bioblendstock target identification; and/or
  • Impacts analysis.

Each awardee has committed to a 20 percent cost share contribution.

Assistant Secretary for DOE’s EERE, Daniel R. Simmons, stated that “[t]hese projects are designed to help improve energy efficiency for passenger vehicles through the use of biofuels, translating into savings at the pump.”

Tags: DOE, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 26, 2020, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, announced the winners of its 2020 Start-Up Stadium competition. The competition had 30 finalists that were evaluated during BIO Digital in June, by expert judges with backgrounds in investment, entrepreneurship, start-ups, economic development, capital formation, and academia. Five winners were chosen based on their commercially viable cutting-edge technologies and therapeutic solutions. Competition winners will receive:

  • A one-year membership in BIO;
  • Four hours of complimentary legal services;
  • One-hour advisory discussion with two venture capital firms; and
  • A “fast-track” accelerator application and nomination into the final selection phase for up to a $10,000 sequencing grant.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

On June 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  EPA states that this year’s winners “have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that turn potential environmental challenges into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.”  The 2020 winners and their innovative technologies are:

  • Genomatica, San Diego, California, for creating Brontide™, a new brand of 1,3-butylene glycol, commonly used in cosmetics for moisture retention and as a carrier for plant extracts.  Butylene glycol is traditionally produced from fossil fuels.  Brontide™ is produced by fermenting E. coli using renewable sugars in a one-step production process, however.  This method reduces greenhouse gas emissions and avoids the use of hazardous chemicals in the production process.
     
  • Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for improving the process used to produce certain antiviral drugs used for the treatment of diseases including hepatitis C and HIV.  According to EPA, the new process improved manufacturing efficiency and sustainability of one important antiviral by more than 85 percent.  This method reduces waste and hazards associated with the existing process and results in substantial cost savings.
  • Johns Manville, Littleton, Colorado, for developing a biobased, formaldehyde-free thermoset binder for fiberglass reinforcement applications.  Thermoset binders are used to bind glass fibers of fiberglass mats used in carpet tile backing.  EPA states that this technology eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals, reduces water and energy use, and produces a product with a longer shelf life.
     
  • Professor Steven Skerlos, University of Michigan and Fusion Coolant Systems, for creating Pure-Cut™, an alternative to traditional metalworking fluids that uses high-pressure carbon dioxide instead of oil-based lubricants.  According to EPA, Pure-Cut™ can improve performance and machining tool life span compared to traditional metalworking fluids, while greatly reducing hazards to the environment and worker health.
     
  • Vestaron, Kalamazoo, Michigan, for producing a new biopesticide called Spear®.  This pesticide is based on a naturally occurring component inspired by spider venom that can effectively control target pests while showing no adverse effects on people, the environment, and non-target wildlife, such as fish and bees.  EPA notes that Spear® should provide growers with a new pest management tool that also lessens environmental impacts.

EPA plans to recognize the winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this year.  EPA and the American Chemical Society co-sponsor the awards.  An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2020 submissions and made recommendations to EPA for the 2020 winners.


 
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