By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On July 17, 2017, the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that $40 million in Department of Energy (DOE) awards will be used to establish four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC) to be led by a DOE National Laboratory or top university. Each BRC will focus on laying the scientific groundwork for a new biobased economy by providing scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy. The following BRCs were selected based on an open competition with external peer review:
- The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University;
- The Center for Bioenergy Innovation, led by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
- The Joint BioEnergy Institute, led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and
- The Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
While the $40 million in funding will be used to establish the centers in 2018, an additional five years of funding is anticipated. The current funding represents a follow-on phase to the original DOE BRC program, which consisted of three BRCs. The new phase will build and expand on the accomplishments of the original BRC breakthroughs and incorporate an additional BRC.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On July 11, 2017, DOE announced the selection of three projects focused on reducing the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts that will receive up to $8 million in funding. The projects aim to generate high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms and cultures and biology-focused breakthroughs. The project winners include:
- Lumen Bioscience, which will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the agricultural production of algae on otherwise non-productive land in rural eastern Washington State by rapidly engineering strains that grow robustly in seawater, resist contamination and predation, and accumulate substantial amounts of energy-rich components;
- Global Algae Innovations, which will work in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, University of California at San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the J. Craig Venter Institute to deliver a tool for low cost, rapid analysis of pond microbiota, gather data on the impacts of pond ecology, and develop new cultivation methods that utilize this information to achieve greater algal productivity; and
- Los Alamos National Laboratory, which will work with Sapphire Energy to help the algal research and development community better understand these metrics at commercial scales by evaluating rationally designed pond cultures containing multiple species of algae, as well as beneficial bacteria, to achieve consistent biomass composition and high productivity.
The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology takes place July 23-26, 2017, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will co-host a Bioeconomy Leaders and Innovators Reception with Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C. from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on July 25, 2017. Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while engaging with colleagues to exchange ideas and explore the prospect of establishing new partnerships. Christine Lhulier, Corporate Counsel for DuPont Industrial Biosciences, will participate in a brief question and answer (Q&A) session to initiate dialog for the evening. Register for the reception.
Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist with B&C, and Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D., Manager of BRAG, will be attending the conference and will be pleased to discuss questions attendees may have about their own biotechnology products.
We look forward to seeing you there!
By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.
On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the 2017 Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the 21st Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference. The award recognizes landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn potential environmental issues into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development. The American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute convened an independent panel of technical experts to judge the 2017 submissions and make recommendations to EPA regarding the winners.
This year's winners and technologies are:
Over the course of the Green Chemistry Challenge’s 22 year history, EPA estimates that winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air. While we are saddened that this very successful voluntary program is slated to be defunded in the President's FY2018 budget, we applaud this year’s winners. Those who value the green chemistry program should consider contacting their Senators and Representatives to encourage continued support of this program. It has had outsized benefits for such a modestly funded program.
By Kathleen M. Roberts
On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced that up to $9 million in funding will be available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) in fiscal year (FY) 2017. Projects funded by BRDI will focus on developing economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increasing the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products, and diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio. DOE and NIFA are soliciting applications from all interested parties, including for-profit entities, universities, nonprofits, and national laboratories, to address any or all of the following legislatively mandated technical areas:
- Feedstocks development;
- Biofuels and biobased products development; and
- Biofuels development analysis.
DOE anticipates funding one to six awards and NIFA anticipates funding three to 14 awards, with awards ranging from $500,000 to $2 million. Concept papers are due by July 7, 2017
, and full applications are due by September 22, 2017
. More information on BRDI is available on DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Exchange website
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On June 6, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the winners of its Imagine Chemistry challenge. The following winners have been awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business to help bring their ideas to market:
- Ecovia Renewables was awarded for its fermentation technology to make polyglutamic acid, which can be used to make thickeners for personal care products and other uses;
- Industrial Microbes was awarded for its solution to use genetically modified microorganisms to turn CO2 and natural gas into key chemical building blocks, such as ethylene oxide; and
- Renmatix was awarded for its technology to use pressurized water to break down plant biomass into cellulosic products with a range of end-use applications.
The awardees were selected from a group of 20 finalists that participated in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s Deventer Open Innovation Center. In addition to the winners, seven other finalists were awarded prizes, such as a research agreement with AkzoNobel, chemical research support from AkzoNobel, a rent voucher for the Deventer Open Innovation Center, partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG, and partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG. More information on the Imagine Chemistry Challenge is available in the BRAG blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge