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.

On March 13, 2015, the National Academies issued Industrialization Of Biology: A Roadmap To Accelerate The Advanced Manufacturing Of Chemicals, a 143-page report prepared in response to a request from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to "develop a roadmap of necessary advances in basic science and engineering capabilities, including knowledge, tools and skills" to accelerate the advanced manufacturing of chemicals using biological systems. Thirteen committee members with expertise in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, molecular biology, microbiology, systems biology, synthetic chemistry, chemical engineering, bioinformatics, systems integration, metrology, chemical manufacturing, and law and bioethics worked together with researchers to create a technical roadmap for the future of the biochemicals industry. The report, with chapters including "Industrial Biotechnology: Past and Present," "Vision of the Future: What New Chemicals Could Be Made?," and "How Do We Get There?," examines the regulatory and societal factors limiting the adoption of bioprocessing in the chemical industry today and makes recommendations for EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies responsible for governance of existing and emerging biobased chemicals. A prepublication version of the report is available now, with a final publication date to be announced.

 

 

DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the Clean Energy Research and Educational Foundation (CEREF) are co-hosting Bioenergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape, scheduled for June 23-24, 2015, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. This year's conference will focus on opportunities and challenges in our current highly dynamic energy ecosystem.

 

 

On February 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the third round of Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Renewable Energy Project Development Assistance that provides tribal governments and entities with support to produce clean and renewable energy. The START program was launched in December 2011 and has helped 21 tribal communities advance solar, wind, biofuels, and energy efficiency projects. The program is open to Indian Tribes, Alaska Native regional corporations, and formally organized tribal energy resource development organizations. Applications are due to the DOE Office of Indian Energy by May 1, 2015, and up to five projects will be selected by the end of June 2015.

 
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On February 17, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Open Meeting for the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee (the Committee). The Committee plans to meet on March 5, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and March 6, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes updates on the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DOE Biomass R&D Activities, the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office Funding Opportunity Announcements, and the Committee's plan for 2015. To attend the meeting, contact Elliott Levine and Roy Tiley by February 26, 2015. Minutes of the meeting will be available within 60 days of the meeting at the Biomass Research & Development Meetings Page.

 

 

On February 2, 2015, the White House released the 2016 fiscal year budget request for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Under this proposed plan, DOE would receive $29.9 billion, an increase of $2.6 billion from the 2015 fiscal year. The increase in funding for DOE would focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean power technology with some of the additional money coming from DOE's fossil fuel programs. A total of $7.4 billion of the funding would go specifically towards clean energy technology, including renewable and biobased developments. The budget request would also make the renewable energy production and investment tax credits permanent. In addition to making the existing tax credits permanent, new credits were proposed that will focus on carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies. In contrast to the proposed additional tax credits for renewables, existing tax incentives for the oil, gas, and coal industries would be repealed. The current budget request is unlikely to pass in the House of Representatives, but shows the focus on renewable energy that the current Administration holds 


 

On December 4, 2014, the S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will provide up to $7 million for two bioenergy projects that aim to reduce the cost of delivering biomass feedstocks to biorefineries. The College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York administers one of the projects and focuses on reducing the cost of woody crops while improving harvest and preprocessing operations to meet biorefinery specifications. The second project, out of the University of Tennessee, will develop a biomass processing depot that blends multiple biomass sources in order to reduce variation in biomass used by biorefineries. This study could lead to increased feedstock availability due to blending of the different biomass sources.

 

 

On November 7, 2014, R&D Magazine announced its 52nd R&D 100 Awards, which are widely recognized as the "Oscars of Invention." Major technological breakthroughs made over the past year were honored and included work from industry, academia, and governmental research. This year, six awards went to projects that were funded by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The EERE-funded projects that won R&D 100 Awards are from the Bioenergy Technologies Office, Fuel Cells and Solar Technologies Offices, and Vehicles Technologies Office.

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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).
 


 

On October 31, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released two plans related to climate change. The Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and the Climate Change Adaptation Plan are intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for flooding, rising sea levels, and extreme temperatures/weather patterns. These plans come five years after the 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance that set energy, climate, and environmental goals for government agencies. The release of the plans gave Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz an opportunity to outline how the use of clean energy resources, as part of the Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, has been implemented within the Department. DOE has increased the number of buildings that achieved federal guiding principles for high performance and sustainable buildings. It has completed a biomass cogeneration facility in South Carolina and an 11.5 megawatt wind farm, both of which serve to reduce the use of non-renewable energy. DOE was also recognized as a 2014 GreenGov Presidential Award Winner for its work with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to produce a five percent reduction in DOT's total fuel consumption, and a 20 percent increase in DOT's use of alternative fuels.


 

DOE has developed a small business "All-in-one Application Tool" for small businesses looking for funds to advance clean energy technologies. The online tool provides a guide for potential applicants for the topics under the DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Among the nine topics identified by SBIR is bioenergy, with particular focus on biomass conversion systems, coatings for metal combustors, and solid-liquid separations for algal systems.


 
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