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

On July 22, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) highlighted small businesses funding under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Having received $43.6 million in funding from DOE thus far, small businesses continue to grow as DOE announces Phase II awards. Last week, DOE announced Phase II Release grants that demonstrate commercial feasibility for innovations during the second phase of small businesses’ research. Nine EERE technology offices will fund 42 awards ranging from $975,000 to $1,150,000, with a two-year duration.

Tags: DOE, EERE, Research

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 22, 2019, the United Kingdom (U.K.) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced an open consultation for the development of standards for biodegradable, compostable, and biobased plastics. The consultation welcomes views from any interested parties to identify gaps and provide expert advice on:

  • The overall sustainability of biobased and biodegradable plastic products in comparison with other materials;
     
  • Existing relevant plastic degradation standards and how they are promoted without adverse environmental effects; and
     
  • The design and implementation of standards for biodegradable plastics to ensure they are fully biodegradable in a reasonable timeframe.

With a focus on obtaining robust evidence backed by scientific theory, direct practical experience, or analysis, rather than opinion, views from environmental scientists, bioscience or biotechnology practitioners, standards authorities, manufacturers, waste processors, consumers, producers, and certification authority experts are welcome. Consultation responses must be submitted by October 14, 2019. For further details, the call for evidence can be accessed here.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 10, 2019, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Bill Foster (D-IL) reintroduced the STRONGER (Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience) Patents Act of 2019. This legislation, an improvement on legislation introduced last year under the same name, would reform the inter partes post-grant review process, ensure all fees paid to the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) are used for their intended purposes, and protect patent holders and small businesses from predatory demand letters. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) has come out in favor of this bill, stating, “Without strong patent rights, the financing to take revolutionary biotechnology discoveries from the lab to the patient, farmer, and consumer would be unavailable. Weak or inconsistent patent protections threaten new investment in the innovation sector of our economy and, with it, the jobs and industries of the future.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a model that predicts commercial biocrude outcomes from algae hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) significantly more accurately than previous analyses. “Techno-economic uncertainty quantification of algal-derived biocrude via hydrothermal liquefaction,” funded by DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), focused on  quantifying economic uncertainties, including algae composition and capital investment, and determined that higher total lipid content (including membrane lipid) yields more biocrude, which directionally reduces biocrude production cost.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 8, 2019, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced the winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II, a challenge intended to highlight the range of biobased materials that can be produced with field corn feedstock. The three winners included:

  • ExoPolymer, Inc. for a plan to create a new profile of customizable, polysaccharide-based hydrocolloids that are domestically produced by microbial fermentation using corn sugar as a feedstock. These new hydrocolloids will meet the growing needs and performance gaps in the healthcare, personal care, food, pharmaceutical and energy industries.
  • Sumatra Biorenewables, LLC for the development and production of novel monomers that are incorporated into polyamides and polyesters to provide tensile strength and low water absorption. These superior performance-advantaged materials have wide-ranging applications in the specialty nylon's industry. Opportunities include improved hydrophobicity, anti-static, flame-retardant, or have tuned mechanical strength to meet customer specifications.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, for a plan to use emulsifiers, polymer films, and coatings made from corn starch and vegetable oil rather than petroleum.

The diversification of biobased uses for field corn is important in an industry that is working to move away from ethanol production as second-generation biofuel technologies become more advanced and prove to be more sustainable than earlier biofuel types. Nebraska farmer and NCGA Feed Food and Industrial Action Team Chair Dan Wesely said of the challenge, “It is encouraging for farmers to know that companies are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives for biobased products.”


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 27, 2019, the Government of Canada’s Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) opened the application process for a grant to develop next generation biobased foam insulation products. Called the Plastics Challenge, this funding opportunity seeks solutions that result in foam insulation products (either spray foam or rigid foam board) that:

  • Are predominantly derived from Canadian forest residue;
     
  • Have similar insulation values (within 20 percent) as currently available petroleum-based versions;
     
  • Would have similar cost (within 20 percent) as currently available versions;
     
  • Are less flammable;
     
  • Are fully recyclable at end of life; and
     
  • Would generate less GHG emissions during manufacturing.
Applications must be submitted prior to 2:00 p.m. (EDT), August 27, 2019.

 
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