- The Guardian, “Researchers Race to Make Bioplastics from Straw and Food Waste”
- Imperial College London, “New Enzyme Boost Could Hasten Biofuel Production”
- GreenBiz, “Ambitious Alliance Mobilizes Value Chain for Bio-Based Polymers”
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.
North Dakota Industrial Commission Provides Grant To Midwest AgEnergy For Barley-Based Ethanol Research
On July 2, 2018, Midwest AgEnergy announced that the North Dakota Industrial Commission, a division of North Dakota’s State Department of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, had awarded it a $83,810 grant to research using North Dakota barley to produce ethanol with a protein concentrate byproduct for use in aquaculture. This would be the first ethanol produced North Dakota from a feedstock other than corn, and would include an expansion of the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy (DSA) ethanol plant. "We're looking to move ahead with a more formal study on a barley protein concentrate project," stated Jeff Zueger, CEO of Midwest AgEnergy, the parent company of DSA. "If built, it would be a co-located process at DSA that would dehull and mill barley to produce high protein feed and a feedstock for the ethanol process."
On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed S.3042 -- Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) with a vote of 86-11. This bill includes mandatory funding for Energy Title programs, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; the Biobased Markets Program; the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Product Manufacturing Assistance Program; the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels; the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP); and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). In addition to securing funding for a range of bioenergy programs, the legislation also expands the types of renewable chemical and biobased product technologies that are eligible for funding. The U.S. House of Representatives version of this bill, H.R. 2, was passed on June 21, 2018, and does not include mandatory funding for Energy Title programs. While this funding was not included in H.R. 2, a previous vote to repeal the Energy Title programs was defeated in the House on May 17, 2018, by a vote of 75-340, signaling strong bipartisan support of the programs. (See the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) Blog post “Bipartisan Support Keeps Energy Title Programs In Farm Bill.”) The differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill will be resolved in committee.
On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) issued a new report, Moving Beyond Drop-In Replacements: Performance-Advantaged Biobased Chemicals Workshop Summary Report, that summarizes presentations and discussions from a workshop BETO held in June 2017 to gather stakeholder input on the research and development necessary for novel biobased compounds and functional replacements. DOE states that performance-advantaged biobased products and functional replacements can offer many advantages to the U.S. bioeconomy. The conclusion section of the report states that performance-advantaged biobased products present an important opportunity for the bioeconomy, and the ideal novel biobased compound would achieve the following:
On June 27, 2018, representatives from 11 European companies and universities gathered in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, to kick-off the EU-funded Rewofuel project. This three-year, €19.7 million (about $23 million) project will demonstrate and evaluate how to best use wood residues from the forest industry to produce biofuels, with a long-term goal of starting new biorefineries across Europe. Rewofuel is a collaborative project that is expected to run for three years, and is being worked on by SEKAB E-Technology, Peab Asphalt, Sky NRG, Global Bioenergies, Neste Engineering Solutions, Repsol, Ajinomoto, Eurolysine, IPSB, TechnipFMC, and Linz University. Jean-Baptiste Barbaroux, Chief Corporate Officer at Global Bioenergies, said of the project, “By combining technologies and know-how from the leading biofuels actors across Europe, the project Rewofuel will be able to demonstrate the increasingly important role of using forest materials in the European renewable energy transition. We look forward to contributing directly to the European climate and energy targets.”
On June 26, 2018, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed a proposed rule that includes 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel, as well as 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVO) for biomass-based diesel.
These blend levels increase requirements from 2018 but are still lower than the statutory levels set by Congress under the RFS. The levels, along with the fact that the proposed rule does not address the reduction in price that Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) have suffered as a result of EPA’s increased use of small refiner hardship waivers, have resulted in criticism of the rule by biofuel groups. Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s (BIO) Industrial & Environmental Section released a statement regarding the proposed rule, stating:
We welcome EPA’s decision to raise the advanced and cellulosic biofuel volumes in its proposal, which will help propel the industry forward in 2019. However, the advanced biofuels industry is still suffering the effects of the Agency’s decision to arbitrarily limit growth for low carbon biofuels in 2018, by setting a backward looking RFS requirement. The 2019 volumes should be higher, to correct from last year and also spur growth for the coming year.
A comment period will start following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register and comments will be due by August 17, 2018. Comments can be filed online at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2018-0167. EPA plans to schedule a public hearing on the proposed rule.
On June 20, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced that the Fuels Institute and the national laboratories that comprise the DOE Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines initiative would be co-hosting a series of collaborative, single-day stakeholder meetings entitled the Octane Workshop Series across multiple locations from July 9-12, 2018, to “review current research on the role of octane and other fuel properties relevant to producing fuels that could enable the design of more efficient spark ignition, internal combustion engines.” Each session will present the latest findings of research concerning fuels and engine options that might enhance vehicle efficiency and reduce emissions, and the opportunities and challenges associated with delivering such products to market.
DOE states that these workshops will be “highly informative for anyone engaged in petroleum refining, biofuels production, liquid fuel distribution and retailing, automotive engineering, fuels and vehicles regulations, and/or fuels and vehicles research.” Registration for each separate event is available online.