On October 27, 2014, President Obama announced new plans to strengthen the manufacturing sector. One of the listed plans involved the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) coming together to invest in advanced materials, advanced sensors, and digital manufacturing. These three areas were determined to be critical to U.S. competitiveness and include biobased materials in the advanced materials category. Over $300 million is going to be invested across the three categories and the research investments by the federal government are expected to be matched by efforts in the private sector. More information about the announcement can be found in the statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary.
The Bioenergy Technologies Office within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), "Landscape Design for Sustainable Bioenergy Systems."
DOE is looking for interdisciplinary projects that integrate landscape design approaches with cellulosic feedstock production within existing agricultural and forestry systems. Projects must maintain, or preferably enhance, environmental and socio-economic sustainability. The FOA includes funding up to $14 million.
This funding will help take the next steps for previous DOE-funded projects that demonstrated potential for increased sustainability through strategic placement of bioenergy feedstock production within a landscape. The FOA will engage landowners and multi-disciplinary stakeholders in the design of the landscape, field research on sustainability metrics, and assessing logistic systems needed to provide high quality cellulosic feedstocks to conversion facilities for bioenergy.
More information on the FOA is available on DOE's website.
October 16, 2014, was a banner day for green chemistry in the nation's capital with the 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards ceremony, and the Green Chemistry Market Roundtable preceding it. The roundtable included representatives from industry, including the 2014 award winners; EPA and other federal agency officials; and others involved with green chemistry and biobased chemicals and products. BRAG Executive Director, Kathleen Roberts, and Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) Lynn Bergeson were invited guests and participated in the roundtable discussion on green chemistry innovations and strategies for realizing the environmental market potential for these innovations.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards were presented at a ceremony later in the day. There were five categories within the challenge: academic; small business; greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions; and designing greener chemicals. The 2014 winners include Professor Shannon Stahl of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as Amyris, Inc., Solazyme, Inc., QD Vision, Inc., and the Solberg Company. In EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) Assistant Administrator Jim Jones' blog post about the awards and this year's winners, he stated "[t]hese scientists are helping to crack the code and solve some of the most challenging problems facing our modern society. They are turning climate risk and other problems into a business opportunity, spurring innovation and investment. They are reducing waste -- energy, chemicals and water waste -- while cutting manufacturing costs, and sparking investments." EPA has received more than 1,500 nominations in the 19 years of the challenge program. More information on the program and a copy of the EPA press release detailing the technologies of the award recipients are available on the EPA Green Chemistry website.
2015 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Presidential Green Chemistry Award and EPA can be expected to make the awards ceremony a major event. BRAG members and others should start now to think about competing for this prestigious award.
On October 17, 2014, Abengoa opened -- and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated -- the world's largest cellulosic biorefinery in Hugoton, Kansas. This second generation cellulosic ethanol plant will process 1,000 tons of biomass per day and utilize mainly corn stover, as well as wheat straw, milo stubble, and switch grass. This biorefinery will produce up to 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol every year. It benefited from a $132.4 million loan guarantee and a $97 million grant, both from DOE. More information about the plant and comments from the opening ceremony are available in a DOE press release, "Secretary Moniz Dedicates Innovative Commercial-Scale Cellulosic Biofuel Plant" and on the Biofuels Digest website.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $25 million in funding to reduce the cost of algal biofuels to less than $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019. On behalf of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy posted a notice of a funding opportunity, entitled "Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts" (TABB). The TABB Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) looks for pathways to overcome the key barriers to commercializing algal biofuels: the high cost of producing algal biomass and the low yield of target biofuel and bioproduct feedstocks produced from algae. Specifically, the TABB FOA will support: (1) the development of algae cultures that produce valuable bioproducts alongside fuels to increase the overall value of the biomass; and (2) the development of crop protection and carbon dioxide utilization technologies to boost culture productivity and yield to reduce the cost of the biomass. There will be an information webinar on October 8, 2014. Information on the webinar is available online.
More information on the TABB FOA and applications is available online.
BETO is hosting a workshop on November 5, 2014, in Arlington, Virginia, to address challenges in converting waste food products to energy. The workshop will gather experts in the field to identify technical barriers to the commercial development of liquid transportation fuels from waste feedstocks, which will ultimately help develop a roadmap that highlights the key pathways and metrics to reaching commercialization. Registration is free, but space is limited. More information is available online.
On September 19, 2014, Secretary Vilsack was joined by Deputy Secretary of Energy, Dan Poneman, and Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, to announce contract awards to three separate companies to produce over one million gallons per year of advanced drop-in jet biofuels to be used by the U.S. Department of Defense and the private transportation sector. The three companies receiving the $210 million in contract awards are Emerald Biofuels, Fulcrum Bioenergy, and Red Rock Biofuels. The announcement was shown via live webcast via the White House website. More information is available here and here.
This announcement comes as part of an ongoing joint, combined $510 million effort among the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and the Navy to help facilitate the production and use of U.S. advanced drop-in biofuels for military and commercial use.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and EPA State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) website has been redesigned. The website provides information on successful efforts to advance energy efficiency across the U.S. It includes initiatives in support of energy efficiency policies and program options at the state and local levels. You can access the SEE Action website here.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a computational platform known as Systems Biology Knowledgebase, or KBase, designed to help the biological community analyze, store, and share data. The project is led by scientists at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne, Brookhaven, and Oak Ridge national laboratories. KBase compiles information on plants and microbes, and the interactions among them with the objective of improving the environment and energy production. KBase can be accessed at http://kbase.us/. More information on KBase and its objectives can be found online.
DOE recently released a notice of intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), "Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts." The FOA will seek to reduce algal biofuels' projected cost by up to 50% through the creation of valuable bioproducts alongside fuels, thus achieving increased biomass productivity. See online.