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 Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On February 26, 2020, the city of Helsinki announced the opening of applications for the Helsinki Energy Challenge (HEC), which aims to address challenges associated with urban heating produced with coal. According to its press release, Helsinki is one of the leading cities in the transition toward a sustainable future. Its aim is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Currently, however, Helsinki needs solutions to meet its heat demand. Given Finland’s coal ban starting in 2029, Helsinki is seeking heating solutions that go beyond coal and beyond burning biomass. Helsinki Mayor, Jan Vapaavuori, stated that “[s]olving the urban heating challenge is crucial to reach global climate goals. Cities have a key role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy, and Helsinki is now taking an initiative to lead the way.” The city is inviting innovators from around the world to use Helsinki as a test bed to develop fossil-free and sustainable solutions in the fight against global warming.

Proposed solutions will be evaluated based on:

  • Climate impact;
  • Impact on natural resources;
  • Implementation schedule and feasibility;
  • Reliability and security of supply; and
  • Capacity.

HEC is open globally to consortiums, start-ups, established companies, research institutions, universities, research groups, and individual experts. Applications will be accepted until May 31, 2020. Finalists will be invited to a co-creation phase in early July 2020, which will include a 3-day boot camp, where they will be provided support to develop their proposals. After the boot camp, finalists will present their proposals to an international jury of experts, who will name the winner or winners. To be presented in November 2020, the winning solution will be awarded one million euros.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

The international standards organization, ASTM International, is seeking additional task group members to further develop the current terminology standard in industrial biotechnology (E3072-19). ASTM International develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services. Its sub-committee, E62.91 for Terminology in Industrial Biotechnology, is responsible for suggesting new terms and definitions to be added to the current standard and for revising existing terms and definitions as needed. The meanings and explanations of the technical terms have been written for both non-expert and expert users and is updated annually to include editorially any terms approved in the committees of technical standards. This standard, however, does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with the use of biotechnology products, materials, systems, or services. Interested parties should contact the sub-committee chair, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or the E62 staff manager, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), directly.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On February 19, 2020, the University of Oulu, Finland, announced that scientists from its Research Unit of Sustainable Chemistry have developed a new synthetic bioplastic that provides protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In addition to its UV-light blocking capacity, the transparent bioplastic made from a biomass-based copolymer with bisfuran structure, the new bioplastic also has airtightness capabilities three to four times higher than polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. The raw materials used in the production of this entirely biomass-based plastic are hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural, which are biorefinery products derived from cellulose and hemicellulose. University of Oulu researchers chemically linked the two chemicals to create copolymer parts with bisfuran and furan-like structures. The research results have been published, and a patent application for the bioplastic has been filed for the new method developed.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The European Commission (EC) will host a webinar on biobased products developed from fast pyrolysis oil, where four companies will present their work. A technology that can convert a wide range of biomass into clean and uniform bio-oil that is easy to transport and store, fast pyrolysis has mostly focused, thus far, on the use of pyrolysis oil for energy purposes. According to EC, the Horizon 2020 project called Bio4Products, however, has recently developed a technology to divide pyrolysis oil into multiple fractions that could be used for material applications. In its webinar, EC will showcase some of the latest results from companies using this technology. Part of a series of webinars called From Biomass to Biobased Products, the webinar will be on February 20, 2020, at 5:00 a.m. (EST). Interested parties may register for the webinar here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 22, 2020, three trade associations announced the launch of a strategy to tackle the transition into 100 percent biofuels for heating oil in English and Irish homes. A United Kingdom (UK) based trade association, the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) has partnered with the Tank Storage Association (TSA) and the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) to launch a future vision for liquid fuels, titled “Supply Chain Strategy for Liquid Fuels.” Detailing the necessary steps to achieve 100 percent biofuel use to replace heating oil in 1.5 million UK homes and 686,000 Irish homes, this liquid fuels strategy sets five key challenges to be addressed by the government in the following order:

  1. Encourage and support energy-efficient measures in the immediate term to improve the performance of buildings and their services. This method will reduce energy demand and cost for households’ use of technology.
  1. Support supply chain preparations to accept a 30 percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and 70 percent kerosene blend fuel into existing installations by 2027, including an industry-led field trial built on work previously undertaken by OFTEC and the University of East Anglia.
  1. Support supply chain preparations to accept a low-carbon (0 percent fossil) liquid fuel by 2035 following a full evaluation of boiler and tank fleet and successful field trials of all possible future products that may come from the UK or European sources.
  1. Be actively involved in transitional communication work with consumers utilizing the relationships that the trade association members already have with consumers.
  1. Encourage UK-based and European suppliers to evaluate all new low-carbon/GHG fuels and technologies that are already being developed and coming to market, including gas to liquid (GTL), hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), e-fuels, and other liquid fuels made from waste materials.

Calling for support, the three associations stated: “Our industry is committed to creating a supply chain capable of distributing a 30% biofuel 70% kerosene blend from 2027 and 100% low-carbon liquid fuel by 2035. We are therefore calling on the Government to work together with industry to support and benefit rural communities across the country and set out a clear roadmap to the decarbonisation of heat, with regulation that will provide confidence to the market by providing a clear trajectory to work towards realising our future vision.”

Tags: Biofuel, UK

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On January 17, 2020, the European Union (EU) announced a new innovative project called BIOGEARS that will be funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The project focuses on the development of biobased gear solutions for the creation of an eco-friendly offshore aquaculture sector using a multitrophic approach and new biobased value chains. With the aim to address the gap of biobased ropes for offshore aquaculture, which is currently manufactured with 100 percent non-recyclable plastics, BIOGEARS will create a biobased value chain under the EU Bioeconomy Strategy framework. The European Bioeconomy Strategy aims to accelerate the deployment of a sustainable and circular European bioeconomy to maximize its contribution towards the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as the Paris Agreement. With the goal of increasing aquaculture marketable products, BIOGEARS uses an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) approach by integrating seaweed with mussel production. The BIOGEARS project’s intention is to develop biobased ropes that are tough, durable, and fit-for-purpose while still able to biodegrade in shorter time and managed by local composting facilities.

As part of the project, all project partners will participate in a BLUE LAB to enhance cooperation and enable tracking of innovation of the new biobased materials developed. Project coordinator, Leire Arantzamendi, expressed her hopes of boosting more eco-friendly mussel and seaweed production stating that BIOGEARS “will generate three rope prototypes with a highly reduced carbon footprint along the value chain.” The project will focus on the Atlantic Basin.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 10, 2020, the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) announced its pursuit for high level solutions to machinery problems linked to biofuel content. According to NFUS, many Scottish and UK farmers are experiencing issues because of the percentage of biofuel content in fuel for farming machinery. In December 2019, NFUS submitted a letter to Grant Shapps, Member of Parliament (MP) and Secretary of State for Transport, requesting long-term solutions for this problem. NFSU’s key requests include:

  • Broker a fuel replacement scheme to enable farmers with problematic fuel to receive a fuel uplift and refill of alternative fuel suitable for their needs;
     
  • Conduct a review of the specification and testing protocols ensuring that fuel produced in the UK is fit for farmers’ purposes and is reliable;
     
  • Ensure that the review of specifications and testing protocols occur in a timely manner to prevent a future crisis; and
     
  • Lead further research into the behavior of recycled oil and animal fats within diesel to determine if specific components need to be excluded from it.

Also in December 2019, NFUS representatives attended a meeting with industry experts, which resulted in the creation of a task force to begin working on this issue immediately. NFUS Policy Adviser Zoe Meldrum stated, “Fuel problems remain a top priority for our members and time and resource continues to be dedicated towards finding practical solutions and apply lessons from this event to ensure fuel issues such as this cannot impact agriculture again.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In late December 2019, CRDF Global, an independent non-profit focused on the global scientific community and alternatives to weapons research, announced a partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (MES) in launching the 2020 U.S.-Ukraine Alternative Energy Research Competition. Currently accepting proposals from joint teams of U.S. and Ukrainian researchers, the competition will focus on the advancement of alternative energy sources. Intended to work toward a future of affordable solutions to address the rapid increase of the global population and, consequently, energy consumption increase, the competition is accepting proposals that directly apply to photovoltaic or biofuel technology. These include proposals on engineering, nanotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology, and plant study research. Awards of up to $72,000 will be provided for 12 months. Proposals are due no later than February 28, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 2, 2019, the government of Quebec, Canada, published in its Official Gazette a notice of a draft regulation setting standards for the integration of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel fuel.  Under the draft regulation, the standards will apply on July 1, 2021, and will then increase. As of July 1, 2025, the integration of a minimum volume of ethanol of 15 percent into gasoline and a minimum volume of biobased diesel fuel of 4 percent into diesel fuel will be required. Given the evaluation by the Canadian government of this matter, the notice states that the proposed regulation would have no particular impact on small and medium-sized businesses because the petroleum products distribution sector is made up of large businesses.  Also on July 1, 2025, enterprises subject to the regulation will invest a total of 110 million Canadian dollars in infrastructure to comply with the set standards for the integration of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel fuel.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On October 2, 2019, the Green Party of Canada commented, via a press release, on its Green Climate Action Plan called “Mission:  Possible.” Aiming to exceed the U.S. Green New Deal, under this plan, the Green Party outlines a 20-step action plan to achieve the goal of zero emissions by 2050.  Part of the strategy outlined emphasizes the idea that heavy-duty industrial machinery will need to rely on biofuels.  Although the plan is to ban internal combustion engines and ensure that cars, buses, and trains are powered by electricity by 2030, biofuels will still be needed for fishing, mining, and forestry equipment.  According to the plan, these biofuel needs will be addressed through the creation of biofuels using waste plant matter from forests and agriculture -- and only plant-based biofuels.  Claiming that food that would otherwise be used to feed Canadians, the Green Party highly opposes food-based biofuels.  Its plan, therefore, promotes development of local, small-scale biodiesel production that would rely primarily on used vegetable fat from restaurants across Canada, along with wood and agricultural waste.  Fuel switching to biodiesel would be required for agricultural, fishing, and forestry equipment.


 
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