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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On November 13, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced it has entered into an agreement with American Airlines to explore opportunities to reduce the airline’s environmental footprint.  To achieve this goal, the companies are evaluating in-flight and on-the-ground opportunities to utilize Neste’s renewable fuels.  One aspect of the collaboration will involve complementary efforts to facilitate acceptance and commercialization of High Freeze Point HEFA (HFP-HEFA) renewable jet fuel, which is currently under consideration for approval by the American Society for Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) International.  According to Kaisa Hietala, Neste's Executive Vice President of Renewable Products, both companies “share a common view that innovative low-carbon solutions are needed to help the aviation industry meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, and renewable jet fuel is an important part of the solution.”  Neste's renewable jet fuel is made from renewable and sustainable raw materials, and provides aircraft engine performance, and storage stability and integrity.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On October 24, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that it was the only energy company to reach the Leadership-class ranking in three Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) programs.  Neste received an A- ranking in the CDP Climate, CDP Forests, and CDP Water programs.  CDP is a not-for-profit organization that manages a global disclosure system allowing companies, cities, states, and regions to measure and manage their environmental impact.  The CDP Climate program focuses on corporate measures to combat climate risks and take advantage of low-carbon products and services.  According to Pekka Tuovinen, Neste's Senior Advisor for sustainability, “[t]he more efficiently we operate, and the more we can reduce the climate emissions of our own supply chains, the greater will be the climate benefits of the products and solutions we offer.” 
 
Neste is the only energy sector company to transparently disclose its forest footprint as part of the CDP program.  The Leadership-class ranking demonstrates Neste’s commitment to preventing deforestation in its supply chain and requiring similar action from its raw material suppliers.  Neste continues to work on improving the traceability of various kinds of processing residues used as raw materials beyond what is mandated by regulatory requirements.
 
For the first time, Neste participated in the CDP Water program, which requires companies to disclose the measures they implement for responsible water use and water risk management.  According to Mr. Tuovinen, Neste has been carrying out water footprint calculations for its refineries and products since the 1990s.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On October 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy issued a $26 million funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for cost-shared research and development projects that support the DOE Carbon Capture Program’s goal of broad, cost-effective carbon capture deployment.  The Novel and Enabling Carbon Capture Transformational Technologies FOA consists of two areas of interest, specifically:

  • Development of novel transformational materials and processes; and
  • Enabling technologies to improve carbon capture systems.
DOE anticipates selecting up to 14 projects focused on demonstrating the potential to provide step-change reductions in both cost and energy penalties associated with implementing carbon capture and enabling technologies for the coal and natural gas power generation sector.  The projects will be managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On October 5, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the publication of its business environment outlook titled “Taking Action on Climate Change.”  The report provides an overview of key changes taking place in the energy, transport, and chemicals markets and of select drivers of such change.  The report highlights the role biofuels can play in reducing emissions from the road, aviation, and marine transport sectors.  Demand for renewable diesel is expected to double in North America, the Nordic countries, and Europe by 2021.  Additionally, renewable aviation fuels provide an important solution for an industry committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions despite an increasing demand for aviation fuel.
 
The report also suggests that rapidly increasing resource consumption and waste generation are the driving force behind the move towards a circular economy.  Neste expects the bioplastics market to grow by more than 40 percent by 2021, with 80 percent of the growth coming from durable biobased plastics.  To help decouple plastics from the consumption of fossil-based feedstocks, Neste is developing new business operations from bioplastics using its renewable products as the raw materials. 
 
By 2020, Neste aims to have renewable jet fuel, renewable chemicals, and biobased plastics account for 20 percent of its renewable business sales volume.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On October 4, 2017, EPA issued a NODA in the Federal Register to provide supplemental information and an opportunity for further public comment on potential reductions in the 2018 biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes, and/or the 2019 biomass-based diesel volume under the RFS program.  The NODA follows the Agency’s July 21, 2017, proposed rulemaking on the volume requirements and provides additional information on production, imports, and cost of renewable fuel, and several options for how EPA may consider such data in establishing the final volume requirements. 
 
In the notice, EPA acknowledges its authority under the Clean Air Act to waive a portion of the biomass-based diesel standard if there is a significant renewable feedstock disruption or other market circumstance that would make the price of biomass-based diesel fuel increase significantly, and to make related reductions in the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volume requirements.  EPA is seeking comments on whether it is appropriate to use this waiver authority in the final rule.  Additionally, EPA invites comments on whether it is appropriate to consider possible impacts of the volumes of domestic production and imports on U.S. energy independence and security in setting the applicable standards under the RFS program, and on appropriate ways to determine the applicable volume requirements for 2018, and the biomass-based diesel volume requirement for 2019.
 
Comments are due October 19, 2017.

Tags: EPA, NODA, RFS, CAA

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 29, 2017, the government of the province of Ontario, Canada announced $25.8 million has been allocated to the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) as a part of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.  The funding will be used to support emerging, innovative technologies in areas such as alternative energy generation and conservation, new biofuels or bioproducts, next-generation transportation or novel carbon capture and usage technologies. 
 
Funding is available either from:

  • The Technology Demonstration stream, which aims to support the development and commercialization of innovative low carbon technologies through testing in real-world settings; or
  • The Technology Validation stream, which aims to fund proof-of-concept or prototype projects from eligible Ontario companies or academic organizations to help them get to market faster.
To be eligible for LCIF, projects must be conducted in Ontario and must show significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario.  Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan is key to its achievement of its goal of cutting greenhouse gas pollution to 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 percent below by 2030, and 80 percent below by 2050.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded researchers from Clemson University a $147,744, two-year grant to evaluate the effectiveness of producing biofuels to mitigate climate change.  The project will analyze how switchgrass fields and loblolly pine forests affect local temperatures through the exchange of water, energy, radiation, and carbon with the atmosphere; and quantify below- and above-ground carbon fluxes in both loblolly pine and switchgrass plantations and assess the greenhouse gas emissions of the full biofuel production chain for each crop.  The goal is to develop a comparative picture of the potential of these feedstocks to reduce carbon emissions when generating electricity by co-firing in a coal power plant, and ultimately to aid the development of effective land-use policies. 


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On July 25, 2017, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that the California Air Resource Board (CARB) certified a biodiesel additive that will make California B20 blends the cleanest diesel fuel with the lowest emissions profile available in the U.S.  The additive known as Branded VESTA™1000 reduces every measurable regulated emission, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), when blended with CARB diesel fuel, California’s unique clean-burning biodiesel formulation.  A 20 percent blend of biodiesel with the additive reduced NOx by 1.9 percent and particulate matter by 18 percent compared to CARB diesel.  The certified additive ensures compliance with CARB’s Alternative Diesel Fuel Regulation, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018.  NBB led the initial research and development of the additive.


 

 

By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the 2017 Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the 21st Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.  The award recognizes landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn potential environmental issues into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.  The American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute convened an independent panel of technical experts to judge the 2017 submissions and make recommendations to EPA regarding the winners. 
 
This year's winners and technologies are:

Over the course of the Green Chemistry Challenge’s 22 year history, EPA estimates that winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.  While we are saddened that this very successful voluntary program is slated to be defunded in the President's FY2018 budget, we applaud this year’s winners.  Those who value the green chemistry program should consider contacting their Senators and Representatives to encourage continued support of this program.  It has had outsized benefits for such a modestly funded program. 

 
More information on the winners is available on EPA’s website.

 
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