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 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.”

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 21, 2017, AkzoNobel announced the 20 finalists for its Imagine Chemistry initiative.  The initiative, which was launched earlier this year as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge,” aims to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and uncover sustainable opportunities for the Company's Specialty Chemicals business.  Of the 20 projects selected, four focus on cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics, three focus on biobased and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners, and two focus on biobased sources of ethylene and ethylene oxides.  All finalists will participate in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s research facility to further develop their business ideas and concepts.  A brief description of each project is available on AkzoNobel’s website.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On March 31, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of BRAG, announced the launch of an online tool that uses e-certification to monitor the biobased content of products.  Companies that sign up to use the online platform will be able to exchange biobased material certificates for everything from base ingredients to finished products.  The online tool eliminates the need for separate, external biobased certifications at various points along the supply chain by allowing companies to transfer the certificates electronically.  According to AkzoNobel, tracking the exact amount of biobased raw materials used throughout the value chain will enable producers and consumers to purchase more sustainable products and move towards a more circular economy.  AkzoNobel partnered with Advanced Biochemical (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (ABT) and EY on the project, which is currently in the pilot phase, to encourage transparency and sustainable chemistry.


 

On February 9, 2017, Avantium announced a partnership with AkzoNobel (a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®)), Chemport Europe, RWE Generation, and Staatsbosbeheer to develop a reference plant at the Chemie Park Delfzijl in the Netherlands.  The plant will use a new technology, referred to as the Zambezi process, for the cost-effective production of high-purity glucose from non-food biomass, including forestry residue, pulp, and agricultural byproducts.  Once the woody biomass is converted into sugars and lignin, it can be used to produce a wide range of biobased chemicals and materials.  The design of the plant includes an expansion-ready footprint to enable a rapid increase in capacity following the demonstration phase.
 
Each partner will contribute a unique strength to the overall project.  The infrastructure, utilities, and expertise of the reference plant will be based on the AkzoNobel site in Delfzijl.  The forestry residue feedstock will be sourced by Staatsbosbeheer.  RWE Generation will generate renewable energy from the bio-lignin residue of the Zambezi process, and Chemport Europe will provide strategic support to the project through a range of initiatives.


 

On January 27, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), signed a framework joint development agreement with Itaconix, a specialty chemicals company and U.S. subsidiary of Revolymer, to explore opportunities for biobased polymer production.  According to the agreement, Itaconix will provide proprietary polymerization technology to turn itaconic acid from fermented sugars into polymers and AkzoNobel will carry out the development and commercialization of the biobased polymers.  The deal aligns closely with AkzoNobel’s sustainability agenda and will generate biobased polymers with unique properties for use in everyday applications while furthering the development of biobased chemistry on a large scale.


 

On January 16, 2017, AkzoNobel announced the launch of Imagine Chemistry, which provides start-up firms, students, research groups, and career scientists an opportunity to collaborate with AkzoNobel experts to solve real-life chemistry-related challenges.  Imagine Chemistry will focus on addressing issues within five topic areas:


 
Revolutionizing plastics recycling;
 

 
Wastewater-free chemical sites;
 

 
Cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics;
 

 
Biobased and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners; and
 
Biobased sources of ethylene.
 
There are also “open challenges” for broad ideas related to highly reactive chemistry and technology, and sustainable alternatives to current technologies.Challenges should be business-driven and aim to be commercial within three to five years.AkzoNobel will provide winners access to customers, investors, subject matter experts, mentorship, and an accelerator program, along with additional support.  Participants can submit ideas and solutions through the online challenge platform.