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.

On May 16, 2016, the DOE's BETO invited applications for abstracts for the poster session of the ninth annual conference Bioenergy 2016: Mobilizing the Bioeconomy through Innovation. Poster abstracts are due by June 3, 2016, and must fit the following guidelines:

  • Not exceed the maximum of 300 words;
     
  • Explain validity and technical merit of the approach;
     
  • Discuss how the poster will be used to engage Bioenergy 2016 attendees;
     
  • Highlight applicability to BETO activities/Bioenergy 2016 theme; and
     
  • Provide clarity of motivation, methods, results, and conclusions.

Abstracts should be submitted to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with "Bioenergy 2016 Poster Application" in the subject line. The submission e-mail should also include the poster title, name and affiliation of author(s), curriculum vitae for principal author(s), and the interactive element of the poster. BETO will notify submitters of inclusion in the poster session by June 17, 2016.


 

In May of 2016, the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) awarded the University of Illinois and the University of Florida $300,000 to continue researching ultra-productive biofuel crops. The research project is called Plants Engineered To Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum (PETROSS), and this is the third round of funding that it will receive from ARPA-E. PETROSS is engineering sugarcane and sorghum to produce 20 percent oil, compared to the 0.05 percent oil that is naturally provided. So far 13 percent oil production has been achieved, with PETROSS continuing work to reach 20 percent yield though improved photosynthesis. The ARPA-E funding will also support a techno-economic analysis of converting the PETROSS oil into jet fuel, and phenotyping the PETROSS sugarcane and DNA.


 

 

On May 6, 2016, DOE announced the $90 million Project Development for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower. As previously reported by BRAG, this funding opportunity is intended to support the construction of bioenergy infrastructure that utilizes advanced pretreatment, process, and convergence technologies. "The domestic bio-industry could play an important part in the growing clean energy economy and in reducing American dependence on imported oil," said Lynn Orr, DOE's Under Secretary for Science and Energy. Further, "[t]his funding opportunity will support companies that are working to advance current technologies and help them overcome existing challenges in bioenergy so the industry can meet its full potential."

There are three topic areas of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), covering: pilot scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulose, algal, or biogas feedstocks; demonstration scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulose, algal, or biogas feedstocks; and production of either biopower or biofuels from biosolids and other allowable wet waste feedstock streams. Funding will be distributed on a cost sharing basis with at least 50 percent of the total allowable cost for demonstration projects coming from non-Federal sources. Applicants should present the entire process of their project, as well as the value proposition, target markets, competitors, distribution channels, barriers to market penetration, and mitigation strategies for the proposed technology. Up to ten percent of the total Phase 1 project budget may be proposed for preparatory research and development. Applicants must submit a concept paper by June 6, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT), with the full application due by July 22, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).


 

 

 

 

On March 22, 2016, a team visited Malmstrom Air Force Base to test a new biobased synthetic oil in the base's vehicles. The testing is sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, with four bases chosen to use the plant based synthetic oil in vehicles. The Department of Homeland Security's Law Enforcement Training Center has also begun testing the oil and will be monitoring the impacts on vehicle performance and engine quality over the next 12-18 months. George Handy, the project manager, stated that the use of biobased oil is not expected to result in "any change in the performance of any of the vehicles because they are already running on synthetic fuels." If the testing goes well, the biobased oil will be available to purchase through normal channels, improving national security through the use of a domestically produced sustainable product.


 

 

On March 11, 2016, a consortium made up of Ecofys, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and E4tech announced that the final report on the Land Use Change (LUC) study is now available online. The study was commissioned and funded by the European Commission (EC) and was focused on using the GLOBIOM model to determine ILUC associated with the ten percent renewable energy use target for transportation mandated by the European Union's (EU) 2020 goals. The report, The land use change impact of biofuels consumed in the EU, determined LUC emissions results as well as total LUC caused by the EU 2020 biofuel mandate. Total LUC was determined to be 8.8 million hectares (Mha), with 8 Mha consisting of new cropland, and 0.8 Mha made up of short rotation plantations on existing cropland. LUC emissions were tested by scenario and divided by biomass and biofuel type. Conventional biodiesel feedstocks were found to have high LUC effects, with conventional ethanol feedstocks having lower LUC emissions, and advanced biofuels produced from short rotation crops or perennials having negative LUC emissions.

The credibility of the study has been questioned by several parties, including the EC itself. The European Biodiesel Board (EBB) stated that the study is based on "a model which has still not been disclosed nor validated by peers," resulting in reservations of the scientific reliability of the research. The California Air Resources Board had previously tested Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) values for biodiesel in an open and peer-reviewed process, and found values four to five times lower than those found in the EU study. This disparity has lead to the EBB and the EC stating that a "scientific peer review of the [Ecofys] study would be desirable" and that "if the model structure cannot fully be disclosed, such a review cannot meet the quality standards set by academic rules." The project has been completed, but feedback and comments will be collected at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


 
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