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 Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced that up to $9 million in funding will be available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) in fiscal year (FY) 2017.  Projects funded by BRDI will focus on developing economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increasing the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products, and diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio.  DOE and NIFA are soliciting applications from all interested parties, including for-profit entities, universities, nonprofits, and national laboratories, to address any or all of the following legislatively mandated technical areas:

  • Feedstocks development;
  • Biofuels and biobased products development; and
  • Biofuels development analysis.
DOE anticipates funding one to six awards and NIFA anticipates funding three to 14 awards, with awards ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.  Concept papers are due by July 7, 2017, and full applications are due by September 22, 2017.  More information on BRDI is available on DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Exchange website
Tags: DOE, USDA, NIFA, BRDI, EERE

 

On January 13, 2017, the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced the intent to issue a request for applications (RFA) titled “Fiscal Year 17 Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI).”  Projects funded through BRDI must address one of the foll owing topic areas:
 



 
Feedstocks development :  Research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) focused on feedstocks and feedstock logistics as it relates to the production of raw materials for conversion to biofuels and biobased products;
 



 
Biofuels and biobased products development :  RD&D focused on the development of cost-effective, innovative technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products, and product diversification to increase the feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery; and
 

 
Biofuels development analysis :  Optimization of performance and quantification of the project’s impact on sustainability using systems evaluation methods.
 
The full RFA is expected to be posted on the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Exchange in February 2017, with the full notice of intent currently available.

 

On May 11, 2016, the University of California, Riverside (UCR) provided more information about the project that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is funding with $1.3 million as part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). UCR received $1.3 million in funding to create biofuels and chemicals from waste plant materials. Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) and Chemical and Environmental Engineering Professor Charles Wyman, and CE-CERT Research Engineer and Adjunct Assistant Professor Charles Cai are running the project to convert poplar wood into ethanol and polyurethanes using novel pretreatment and lignin polymer synthesis platforms. The team patented the method, called Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF), as a versatile method to convert raw agricultural waste into renewable fuels and chemicals. "This project takes advantage of the unique ability of our novel CELF technology to effectively fractionate lignin from low-cost non-food sources of cellulosic biomass such as agricultural and forestry residues for conversion into polyurethanes that increase revenues for biorefineries while also enhancing ethanol yields," Wyman said. Eventually, this UCR project aims to increase revenue for bio-refineries while offsetting pretreatment costs to make biomass based fuels and chemicals more economically viable.


 

On May 9, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the recipients of up to $10 million in funding through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). BRDI is a joint program through DOE and USDA that helps develop sustainable sources of biomass and increase the availability of biobased fuels and products. DOE selected two of the grant winners to receive between $1 million and $2 million: the Ohio State University (OSU) project is "Biomass Gasification for Chemicals Production Using Chemical Looping Techniques," and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) project is "Improving Tolerance of Yeast to Lignocellulose-derived Feedstocks and Products."

USDA then selected five grant winners to receive a total of $7.3 million in funding:

  • University of California-Riverside, to convert poplar to ethanol and polyurethane via pretreatment and lignin polymer synthesis;
     
  • University of Montana, to quantify ecological and economic opportunities of various forest types and to quantify benefits of replacing fossil fuel with forest-based bioenergy;
     
  • North Carolina Biotechnology Center, to optimize production of educational resources on biomass sorghum production in the Mid-Atlantic region;
     
  • Dartmouth College, to overcome the lignocellulosic recalcitrance barrier; and
     
  • State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, to provide life cycle understanding for the production of willow and forest biomass to mitigate investment risk.