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 February 28, 2019, DOE announced that scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been working on molecular tools that reside naturally within microbial cells.  Microbes typically use these tools to carry out their metabolism and other life-sustaining processes; LANL researchers, however, have been using the tools to produce fuel precursors and bioproduct building blocks.  With the addition of a biosensor in the microbes, light allows the scientists to learn how efficiently the product is being made and thus enabling more efficient quality control to increase overall yield.  This technology is called LANL’s Smart Microbial Cell Technology and consists of a high throughput screening for enzyme discovery, design, and evolution.  It allows LANL to engineer custom biosensors that detect intracellular concentrations of a specific precursor.  This biosensor technology can, thus, be adapted to a single enzyme, pathway, or even global optimization of an industrial strain.  The work is being led by Taraka Dale, Remash Jha, and, Niju Narayanan at LANL, under the Agile BioFoundry multinational laboratory effort to expedite biomanufacturing processes.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 21, 2019, scientists Abdon Pena-Francesh and Melik C. Demirel, at Pennsylvania State University, published an article on the use of squid teeth tandem repeat proteins that can be functionally used for biodegradable fibers and films.  The flexible and tough material results from a protein present in the squid teeth, which can be grown biosynthetically by E. coli bacteria.  This biosynthetic expression of squid teeth proteins presents a number of advantages over direct extraction from the natural source.  It is a sustainable, controllable, and industrially scalable manner of producing these biobased fibers and films.  Currently labeled as “smart textiles,” these fibers and films are capable of autonomous self-healing.  Because of their biocompatibility and self-healing properties, the squid teeth films are applicable not only to clothing textiles, but also in biomedical implants.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 26, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the sponsorship of a new project to harness algae strains for bioenergy.  Called Development of Integrated Screening, Cultivar Optimization and Verification Research (DISCOVR), the project is a multi-laboratory consortium including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Sandia National Laboratories.  DISCOVR aims to identify and test high productivity microalgae strains for outdoor cultivation year-round through a standardized process for evaluating these strains for the production of cost-effective bioenergy.  The consortium has partnered with the University of Arizona’s Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (ACATI), and is inviting the algae industry and academia to contribute to the project.  Collaboration would provide an opportunity for interested parties to test their algae strains in DISCOVR’s standardized system and directly compare industry’s top-performing algae strains.

Tags: DOE, EERE, BETO, Algae

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 14, 2019, scientists in China published an article revealing a new methodology developed to safely transform methanol into ethanol.  Given methanol’s toxicity, this recently uncovered method allows for a more secure, user-friendly, sustainable technology that can be more broadly applied.  The scientific article reports a photo-driven one-step conversion of methanol to ethanol at ambient temperature.  A relatively simple process, the methodology used can be broadly applied and enables a green and novel method for generating building blocks in synthetic chemistry.


 

 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced a revised agenda for the 2019 Project Peer Review that will take place in Denver, Colorado, on March 4-8, 2019.  An annual event hosted by BETO, this is an opportunity for BETO to present early-stage development projects across its technology areas and have the projects reviewed by experts from industry, academia, and other federal agencies.  The updated agenda includes sessions on Catalytic Upgrading, Performance-Advantaged Bioproducts and Separations, Advanced Algal Systems, Feedstock Supply and Logistics, and Lignin Utilization, among others.  The event is open to the public, and includes presentations from over 300 researchers.


 
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