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 February 16, 2018, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that a consortium of companies signed a project development agreement to develop a waste-to-chemistry facility in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  The facility will convert non-recyclable mixed waste, including plastics, into syngas and then into clean methanol for use in the chemical industry and for the transportation sector.  An estimated 360,000 tons of waste will be converted into 220,000 tons of clean methanol.  The agreement covers the initial investment of nine million euros for the detailed engineering, setup of a dedicated joint venture, and completion of the permitting process.  The final investment decision for the estimated 200 million euro project is expected to be made in 2018.  According to Marco Waas, Research, Development, Innovation (RD&I) and Technology Director at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, “the agreement comes at a very appropriate time given the current challenges in plastics recycling in Europe.  We can convert non-recyclable waste, into methanol, an essential raw material for many everyday products, including sustainable transportation fuel.  Not only can this be used in the existing supply chains and replace fossil sources, but it also avoids CO2 emissions otherwise produced by burning waste.”  The consortium responsible for the project consists of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Air Liquide, and Enerkem.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 10, 2018, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the challenges for its latest Imagine Chemistry program.  AkzoNobel initiated the Imagine Chemistry program in 2017 to startup and scale-up firms and researchers for an opportunity to solve real industry challenges and create sustainable business opportunities in chemistry.  Challenge winners receive joint development agreements with AkzoNobel to help bring their ideas to market.  During the 2018 program, AkzoNobel is soliciting solutions to the following challenges;

  • Development of a surfactant platform that is fully sustainable, specifically biobased, biodegradable, and zero footprint, and suitable for many applications;
  • Organic-free wastewater treatment solutions;
  • Smart technology to make chemical plants more intelligent, autonomous, and resource efficient;
  • Production of chlorate using a more sustainable, energy efficient method that does not use hexavalent chromium;
  • Technologies to increase the efficiency of the production of dry powder products; and
  • Small particle technology to help drive performance and sustainability improvements.‚Äč 
Participants can submit ideas and solutions through the online challenge platform.  Finalists will be invited to an intensive three-day event in June at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, where they will work with experts in finance and research to further develop their ideas.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 4, 2017, Bio-on, a leading Italian biotechnology company in the bioplastic sector, announced the continuation of its collaborative agreement with AkzoNobel, a member of BRAG.  Following the close of a successful collaboration on the 2014 Synergistic Fouling Control Technologies-SEAFRONT project, International Paint Ltd., a business unit of AkzoNobel, and Bio-on have agreed to investigate the use of Bio-on’s biodegradable and biobased polymers in fouling control coatings developed by AkzoNobel.  The coatings are designed to prevent the accumulation of marine organisms on boats, ships, tidal power plants, and other aquatic installations.  According to David Williams, Research and Devolopment Director, Marine Coatings at AkzoNobel, the “collaboration is strategically attractive to AkzoNobel as it offers the potential to develop new biobased products which will strengthen our position as world leaders in high performance and sustainable coatings.”


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On September 21, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its Specialty Chemicals business is studying plans to build a world-class plant for its Bermocoll® business, which supplies non-ionic cellulose ethers for the paint and buildings and construction industries.  AkzoNobel uses a unique solvent-free process to manufacture the water soluble and virtually odorless Bermocoll cellulose ethers.  The new facility will increase the production capacity for such cellulosic ethers to help meet growing global demand.  According to Geert Hofman, General Manager at AkzoNobel’s Bermocoll business, “[d]emand for Bermocoll is growing strongly due to the rising consumption of water-based paint and continued growth in the building and construction industry.”  AkzoNobel is considering a number of options for the location of the facility, including the expansion of operations at existing production sites in China, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On September 5, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its Specialty Chemicals business signed an application agreement with Itaconix to develop innovative biobased chelates for consumer and industrial detergents and cleaners.  According to Peter Kuijpers, AkzoNobel General Manager of Chelates and Micronutrients, biobased chelates are replacements for the phosphate compounds that are being phased out of consumer and commercial cleaning products due to environmental concerns.  This is the second partnership to emerge since the companies signed a joint development agreement in January to explore opportunities for biobased polymer production.  The first application agreement focused on the development of Itaconix’s proprietary polymers for use in the coatings and construction industries, as reported by the BRAG blog post, AkzoNobel Announces First Biobased Polymer Application Agreement With Itaconix.  All products stemming from the collaboration will be marketed under AkzoNobel’s Dissolvine® brand.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 26, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of BRAG, announced that its Specialty Chemicals business issued in final the first in a series of application agreements for biobased polymers from its collaboration with Itaconix, a specialty chemicals company and U.S. subsidiary of Revolymer.  AkzoNobel develops Itaconix’s proprietary polymers from itaconic acid for commercial use in the coatings and construction industries.  Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Research, Development and Innovation Director for AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business, stated that the collaboration fits closely with AkzoNobel’s Planet Possible sustainability agenda of doing more with less and its approach to embracing open innovation for more sustainable solutions.
 
AkzoNobel signed a framework joint development agreement with Itaconix to explore opportunities for biobased polymer production on January 27, 2017, as previously reported in the BRAG blog post AkzoNobel to Produce Biobased Polymers with Itaconix.


 

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.


 
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