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 Kathleen M. Roberts

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced the development of a method to create a supertough renewable plastic with improved manufacturability.  The method involved the addition of a small amount of silanes to polylactic acid (PLA), a bioplastic commonly used in packaging, textiles, biomedical implants, and 3D printing.  The new bioplastic demonstrated improved tensile strain and tensile toughness, without a loss in tensile strength and modulus.  According to ORNL’s Soydan Ozcan, the new method offers a fast, scalable route to increasing PLA toughness, which will broaden the use of PLA.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the availability of presentations from its Advanced Development and Optimization (ADO) Workshop.  As previously reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG­®) blog post DOE Advanced Development And Optimization Workshop, the workshop took place at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on December 12-13, 2017.  Discussion focused on how the new ADO program area can best serve stakeholders in developing the bioenergy industry, existing assets from past investments, and future needs and opportunities for maximizing such assets’ value.  
 
The following presentations are available on the BETO website:  

Tags: DOE, BETO, Workshop

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 23, 2018, DOE announced that researchers at PNNL have developed a catalyst capable of converting ethanol directly into butadiene.  Butadiene is the building block for nearly every major synthetic plastic or rubber in the U.S, including tires, fuel hoses, and children’s toys.  The project, which is sponsored by BETO, aimed to generate butadiene from renewable sources by developing a new catalyst that can convert ethanol into butadiene.  The current ethanol-to-butadiene catalysts required pure ethanol, free of water, to be passed through multiple times to achieve a 70 percent yield.  The team of PNNL researchers has developed a silver nitrate powder and zirconyl nitrate-based catalyst capable of converting 70 percent of aqueous ethanol to butadiene in a single pass under industrially-relevant conditions.  According to Vanessa Dagle, it is the most active ethanol-to-butadiene catalyst reported to date and introduces the possibility of renewable ethanol as a source of butadiene in addition to petroleum.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 22, 2018, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced that a new study on lifecycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission effects of biodiesel updates and reaffirms the benefits of using the renewable fuel.  The report was published jointly by ANL, Purdue University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Researchers gathered data on the energy and emissions from farming soybeans, the feedstock for approximately half of U.S. biodiesel.  Among the data collected was the largest survey of biodiesel production facilities to date to determine the amount of energy used to convert fats, oils, and grease into biodiesel.  The data was analyzed using ANL’s flagship Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET®) LCA model and predicted economic impacts.  The results demonstrate that biodiesel reduces GHG emissions by a range of 66 to 72 percent, compared to petroleum diesel.  Jim Duffield, former USDA Agricultural Economist, stated that “[the report shows] the highest GHG reduction of any heavy-duty transportation fuel and reflects biodiesel’s natural ability to store solar energy in a liquid form compatible with today’s engines and power generation technologies.”
 
The study also models the indirect land use change (ILUC) to quantify the future impact of such predicted change in land use.  According to Farzad Taheripour, one of the Purdue University authors, “[d]ata available today shows that farmers all around the world are increasing productivity on existing farm land. Calibrating the model to these real-world trends improves the accuracy and reduces the predicted emissions of biofuel expansion.”  The improved model demonstrates a 30 percent reduction in ILUC emissions compared to the score adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2015.

Tags: NBB, Biodiesel

 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On January 10, 2018, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the next phase of its international collaboration to study the impact of biofuels on jet engine performance, emissions, and contrail formation.  In February, NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory will sample and analyze gases and particles present in the wake of the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) Advanced Technology Research Aircraft (ATRA) A320 aircraft as it burns alternative biofuels.  Eight joint DC-8/A320 flights are planned to sample three different fuels at a variety of altitudes and airspeeds under contrail forming and non-contrail forming conditions.  The objective of the project is to assess the effects of alternative fuels on aircraft engine performance and emissions, particularly regarding the impact of soot from those emissions on the size, concentration, and lifetime of contrail ice particles. 
 
The research is a continuation of NASA’s investigation on the impact of biofuels on jet engine pollution, as previously reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post NASA Confirms Biofuels Reduce Jet Engine Pollution.  Compared to previous experiments, NASA will be flying where contrails form and persist, which will provide more opportunities for gathering data, and will be analyzing data using a much more extensive instrument.

Tags: NASA, Biofuel

 

 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 28, 2017, New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides announced that the New York City Council unanimously passed a bill on the use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel technologies in the city ferry fleet (INT. 54).  The legislation would require a two-year study on the feasibility of using alternative fuel, including biodiesel, and fuel technologies, including hybrid electric or fuel-cell electric, in city ferries.  The study would include consideration of availability, storage, ferry compatibility, possible barriers, regulatory requirements, and other issues related to renewable fuels.  Based on the findings, the city would determine whether it is feasible and practical to implement the use of renewable fuels.  The bill, which Council Member Constantinides introduced to the Council in 2014, is awaiting Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature.

Tags: NYC, Biofuel, Study

 
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