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 September 5, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its Specialty Chemicals business signed an application agreement with Itaconix to develop innovative biobased chelates for consumer and industrial detergents and cleaners.  According to Peter Kuijpers, AkzoNobel General Manager of Chelates and Micronutrients, biobased chelates are replacements for the phosphate compounds that are being phased out of consumer and commercial cleaning products due to environmental concerns.  This is the second partnership to emerge since the companies signed a joint development agreement in January to explore opportunities for biobased polymer production.  The first application agreement focused on the development of Itaconix’s proprietary polymers for use in the coatings and construction industries, as reported by the BRAG blog post, AkzoNobel Announces First Biobased Polymer Application Agreement With Itaconix.  All products stemming from the collaboration will be marketed under AkzoNobel’s Dissolvine® brand.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 25, 2017, the Bioplastics Division of the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) awarded DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) the 2017 Innovation in Bioplastics Award.  DuPont and ADM were recognized for their development of a method to produce furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose derived from corn starch.  Compared to traditional conversion methods used to produce the biobased monomer, the new method is more sustainable and results in higher yields, lower energy, and capital expenditures.  Patrick Krieger, PLASTICS Assistant Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs, stated that “the breakthrough process […] will make bioplastics a competitive option in more applications across various industries.”  The new FDME process is currently being used to develop polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a 100 percent renewable and recyclable polymer with improved gas barrier properties, which can extend shelf life and lighten the weight of products in the beverage packaging industry.
 
On August 31, 2017, DuPont successfully merged with the Dow Chemical Company and began operating as a holding company under the name “DowDuPont™” with three divisions, specifically Agriculture, Materials Science, and Specialty Products.  DuPont’s Industrial Biosciences business is organized under the Specialty Products division.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 14, 2017, Flint Hills Resources, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that construction is underway to install a new, bolt-on technology, known as Maximized Stillage Co-Products™ (MSC), at its ethanol plant in Fairmont, Nebraska.  The MSC technology will be used to convert a portion of the distiller grains, a coproduct of ethanol manufacturing, to a high protein animal and fish feed ingredient, known as NexPro™.  NexPro will be a combination of corn gluten (protein) and spent yeast with close to 50 percent protein and an improved amino acid profile, compared to traditional corn gluten meal.
 
The $50 million project, which involves the addition of a new building and two protein dryers, is expected to last 12 months.  The patented MSC technology was developed by Fluid Quip Process Technologies (FQPT) exclusively for dry mill ethanol plants to separate protein from the solids leftover after ethanol distillation.  Once isolated, the protein is dried into a high-quality meal.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 24, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that its Neste MY Renewable Diesel™ is part of Finavia's climate program.  Initially, the renewable fuel will be used in 20 Helsinki Airport buses, with the goal of expanding its use in the future.  According to Mikko Viinikainen, Vice President of Sustainability & Environment at Finavia, Neste MY Renewable Diesel is an excellent addition to the Finavia’s energy portfolio, which has been working towards carbon-neutral operations by using renewable energy sources; by investing in new, energy-efficient, low-emission solutions; and by compensating for residual emissions.  The renewable fuel can be used in airport buses without any vehicle modifications and is available to all companies operating at the airport.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 1, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public hearing to hear from all segments of the fuel industry on the proposed rule to set the 2018 renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Among the nearly 150 individuals and organizations scheduled to testify at the hearing were numerous biofuel industry stakeholders who praised EPA for issuing the proposed rule on time and for maintaining the statutory 15 billion gallon volume requirement for conventional renewable fuels, but urged the agency to increase the proposed requirements for advanced and cellulosic fuels. 
 
During its testimony, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) stated that it believes that EPA “erred on the side of pessimism with regard to the potential for significant growth in cellulosic ethanol commercialization.”  According to Bob Dinneen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the RFA, many plants are in the process of adding bolt-on fiber conversion technology to their existing facilities, which could dramatically increase cellulosic ethanol production next year.  RFA intends to provide EPA with updated projections for cellulosic fuel before the comment period ends.  Dinneen also highlighted concerns with Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market manipulation and suggested that EPA continue to allow imported biofuels to help comply with the RFS program.
 
With a group of approximately 20 speakers, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) highlighted key data and information regarding market realities and underutilized capacity, and the impacts on small businesses and manufacturing, feedstock availability, and consumer choice.  Donnell Rehagen, NBB CEO, stated that the “current numbers shortchange the progress we have made. They are a step back for the RFS, job creation, small businesses and rural economies.”  Rehagen clarified that “these steps backwards are not about paper but people.”
 
The Renewable Energy Group (REG) informed EPA that ample feedstocks, technology and quality advances, and subsidized imported biofuel are three reasons why the agency should increase the biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuel minimum volumes.  Derek Winkel, Executive Director of Manufacturing, stated that “investments [into the biofuel sector] would not have been made without increasing demand for biodiesel and renewable diesel.  This demand, in part, is supported by a strong, growing and consistent RVO and RFS.”  Paul Nees, Executive Director of REG’s Operations Control Team, testified that “[t]he domestic biodiesel industry is ready and able to fulfill demand gaps with low-cost, high-quality fuel with no market disruption.”
 
During its testimony, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) suggested that the recent verdict in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA should radically alter the factors EPA considers when determining RFS levels this year and going forward.  “The Court clearly affirmed that Congress’ intent for the RFS from the very beginning was to crack the petroleum monopoly and to push biofuels into the marketplace,” stated Monte Shaw, IRFA Executive Director.  “Whether in a reset discussion or in setting biodiesel and ethanol levels, the EPA must act according to the clear directive from the Court.”
 
The American Coalition for Ethanol's (ACE) testimony highlighted its view on conventional biofuel levels, the general waiver authority as it relates to inadequate domestic supply, the use of the reset provisions, and updating the greenhouse gas modeling for corn ethanol as it relates to Brazilian sugarcane ethanol.  The Coalition intends to detail its position on these topics in written comments.  Jonathon Lehman, ACE legislative counsel, also praised Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for their strong public support for keeping the RFS on track.
 
Stakeholders representing the oil industry were also present to testify to the problems they see with the RFS program, including the representatives from the American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), and Valero. 
 
Written statements and supporting information concerning the proposed rule are available under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0091.  As stated in the Federal Register notice, EPA will consider the written comments with the same weight as any oral comments presented at the public hearing.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 26, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of BRAG, announced that its Specialty Chemicals business issued in final the first in a series of application agreements for biobased polymers from its collaboration with Itaconix, a specialty chemicals company and U.S. subsidiary of Revolymer.  AkzoNobel develops Itaconix’s proprietary polymers from itaconic acid for commercial use in the coatings and construction industries.  Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Research, Development and Innovation Director for AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business, stated that the collaboration fits closely with AkzoNobel’s Planet Possible sustainability agenda of doing more with less and its approach to embracing open innovation for more sustainable solutions.
 
AkzoNobel signed a framework joint development agreement with Itaconix to explore opportunities for biobased polymer production on January 27, 2017, as previously reported in the BRAG blog post AkzoNobel to Produce Biobased Polymers with Itaconix.


 

Scientists, executives, and investors gathered in Montreal, Canada on Tuesday evening for a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion on current issues facing bioeconomy leaders and innovators.  The reception, hosted by Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) and Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C., included a brief question and answer (Q&A) session with Christine Lhulier, Corporate Counsel for DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist with B&C, and Jeremiah B. Frueauf, Director in the Biotechnology/Chemical Group at Stern Kessler.  The panel discussed the variety of the incentives and challenges related to growing the bioeconomy, and fielded questions from many of the attendees. 
 
When asked what industries might be affected by the bioeconomy in 2040, Ms. Lhulier stated that she could not name an industry that would not be impacted by renewable resources in the future.  In response to the question “what should be the key driver in growing the bioeconomy?,” the panelists highlighted the need for clear regulatory policies that ensure parity for the commercialization of biobased and petroleum-based products, while recognizing the role that industry and academic institutions play in driving innovation.  It was also noted that global alignment on biobased policies and procedures, and the development of feedstock-agnostic technologies, would help to accelerate the growth of the bioeconomy. 
 
After a guest commented on the impact the negative public perception of biotechnology has on innovation, Dr. Engler pointed out the public’s poor understanding of biotechnology, its safety, and the extent to which it is utilized in the marketplace already.  Another attendee suggested that the biobased industry consider playing a role in informing the public of the benefits of biobased processes.  At the conclusion of the Q&A portion of the evening, many guests stayed to continue the conversation with the panelists and attendees.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July, 19, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, issued a statement to congratulate California on its strong climate leadership supporting the transition to clean energy.  Neste stated that it looks forward to continuing to support the State's targets at curbing carbon emissions through its renewable products. 
 
With a two-thirds majority, the California State Senate and Assembly voted to extend the State’s cap-and-trade program until 2030, and to codify the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) into law.  The LCFS regulation aims to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels sold in California by ten percent by 2020, in line with the California Health and Safety Code mandate to reduce greenhouse gases in California.  The law will now recognize low-carbon transportation alternatives for the allocation of future Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds (GGRF) from related auction revenues.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 19, 2017, SkyNRG, along with Carbon War Room (CWR) and the Port of Seattle, announced their recommendations for long-term funding mechanisms to supply all airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) with sustainable aviation biofuels.  Their report, titled “Innovative Funding For Sustainable Aviation Fuel At U.S. Airports:  Explored At Seattle-Tacoma International,” reviews a broad array of airport funding sources, the legal constraints and financial impacts of each source, as well as biofuel supply chain infrastructure investments.  Regarding next steps, it was recommended that the Port of Seattle establish a dedicated team to build the business case for a local sustainable aviation fuels supply chain, and facilitate regional production of such fuels through the active promotion of policy and regulatory support at the state and regional levels.


 
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