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 24, 2018, a research team at the North Carolina State University announced that biobased glucaric-acid or lignin additives can increase the robustness of polyvinyl alcohol fibers, which can be used in biofriendly products including polymers, detergents, paints, and diapers.  The team plans to continue its R&D as a movement towards greener alternatives to support industries using additives with known varying levels of toxicity.  This discovery could play a large role in processing plastics for safe contact with food, people, and the environment.  In 2004, DOE listed glucaric-acid as one of the top 12 sugar-derived chemicals with the potential to be economic drivers for a biorefinery.  Lignin is low in cost and also a waste by-product of the pulp and paper industries, which can also make commercial scale production feasible.


 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 16, 2018, Anellotech and Suntory announced that a new milestone had been reached in developing a 100 percent biobased plastic bottle. Anellotech is using a thermal catalytic process called Bio-TCatTM to confirm non-food based feedstocks into BTX aromatics, renewable chemicals that are structurally identical to traditional plastic components.  The BTX is now undergoing purification studies to make bio-paraxylene, a key chemical for the renewable bottles. David Sudolsky, President & CEO of Anellotech, stated “[f]ollowing our announcements earlier this year on process development and continuous operation, we are glad that significant progress continues at our TCat-8® pilot plant. We continue to move the technology towards commercialization, and shipping the pilot plant’s product for downstream evaluation is another major milestone.  Having collaborated with Suntory since 2012 to advance development of cost-competitive bio-aromatics, we hope bio-based plastics made from our Bio-TCatTM process and a 100% bio-based bottle soon become a reality.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 16, 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $12 million investment in the Semiconductor Synthetic Biology for Information Processing and Storage Technologies (SemiSynBio) program, a partnership between NSF and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC).  Researches expect that integrating biological structures with semiconductor technology could increase current data storage capabilities by 1,000 times, while using less energy than current technology.  "While today's data storage devices are smaller and more powerful than ever before, we have the potential to catalyze a new wave of innovation that will push the boundaries for the future," stated Erwin Gianchandani, acting NSF assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE).  Further, "[t]his research will pave the way for devices with much greater storage capacity and much lower power usage. Imagine, for example, having the entire contents of the Library of Congress on a device the size of your fingernail."   The funded projects include:

  • DNA-based electrically readable memories:  Joshua Hihath, University of California-Davis; Manjeri Anantram, University of Washington; Yonggang Ke, Emory University.
  • An on-chip nanoscale storage system using chimeric DNA:  Olgica Milenkovic, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • Highly scalable random access DNA data storage with nanopore-based reading:  Hanlee Ji, Stanford University. 
  • Nucleic Acid Memory: William Hughes, Boise State University.
  • Very large-scale genetic circuit design automation:  Christopher Voigt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Kate Adamala, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Eduardo Sontag, Northeastern University.
  • Redox-enabled Bio-Electronics for Molecular Communication and Memory (RE-BIONICS):  William Bentley, University of Maryland College Park.
  • YeastOns:  Neural Networks Implemented in Communicating Yeast Cells: Rebecca Schulman, Johns Hopkins University; Eric Klavins, University of Washington; Andrew Ellington, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Cardiac Muscle-Cell-Based Coupled Oscillator Networks for Collective Computing:  Pinar Zorlutuna, University of Notre Dame.

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 2, 2018, Midwest AgEnergy announced that the North Dakota Industrial Commission, a division of North Dakota’s State Department of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, had awarded it a $83,810 grant to research using North Dakota barley to produce ethanol with a protein concentrate byproduct for use in aquaculture.  This would be the first ethanol produced North Dakota from a feedstock other than corn, and would include an expansion of the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy (DSA) ethanol plant.  "We're looking to move ahead with a more formal study on a barley protein concentrate project," stated Jeff Zueger, CEO of Midwest AgEnergy, the parent company of DSA.  "If built, it would be a co-located process at DSA that would dehull and mill barley to produce high protein feed and a feedstock for the ethanol process."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 5, 2018, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd announced that it had developed a 100 percent biobased, thermally formable, biodegradable material, that is suitable for furniture applications.  This product is an attractive alternative to wood and other biocomposite materials that are already available in the market, with the added benefit of formality and coloring properties.  "All the goals we set were achieved: the material is 100% bio-based, cellulose fibres account for a significant proportion, it looks good and it has excellent performance characteristics," states Lisa Wikström, Research Team Leader from VTT.  At the end of the product life-cycle, it can be re-used, composted (degrading into carbon dioxide and water), or burned for energy.


 
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