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 May 18, 2020, USDA issued its final rule for the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (9003 Program), which incorporates the statutory definition changes as required in the Agricultural Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) and adopts the interim rule published on June 14, 2015. The 9003 Program replaces the Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP), which guaranteed loans to fund the development, construction, and retrofitting of commercial-scale biorefineries using eligible technology. The final rule makes several specific changes to BAP, including:

  • Renames the program as the 9003 Program;
  • Revises the purpose statement for the program to include renewable chemicals and biobased product manufacturing;
  • Expands the program to include biobased product manufacturing facilities;
  • Adds definitions for “renewable chemicals” and “biobased product manufacturing”; and
  • Ensures diversity in the types of projects approved by the program.

The final rule became effective on May 18, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

In March 2020, a paper by master’s degree student Anastasia Prosina titled “Algae-Based Printer Ink as the Way to Foster In-Situ Resource Utilization in Habitation Structures” was published in ResearchGate. Prosina’s paper, submitted to Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA), proposes that the most feasible long-term habitat off-Earth will consist of a 3D printed mixture of algae and regolith, the layer of unconsolidated rocky material covering bedrock. Proposed as an alternative to building structures in space that require intensive mining and sifting, the 3D printed mixture can be cultivated in a lab controlled by biological media. In addition, “[t]he utilization of algae off-Earth is not limited to a singular application and its cultivation would allow for a substantial yield of products, and local micro and macro environmental benefits.” According to Prosina, because of the high protein in and natural thermostatic qualities of algae biomass, this new printing mixture would allow for easier and safer production of everyday consumables, including clothes. Prosina’s paper outlines the benefits and complications of algae production and utilization processes, concluding that algae has the best potential for establishing long-term habitation on the Moon and Mars.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On April 10, 2020, the European Commission (EC) announced the launch of its new online service that connects crop and food producers with biorefineries. This European Union (EU) project aims to address food waste by enabling crop producers, food processors, and agricultural cooperatives to sell their waste as feedstock for use by two biorefineries in Spain and Italy. The multi-feedstock biorefineries, designed by Agrimax, convert farming and food processing byproducts into compounds that can be used in biobased food packaging as well as in the biobased chemical and agricultural sectors. Agrimax is an EU-funded project focused on the development and demonstration of high-value products from crop and food-processing waste. Its work develops economically competitive routes to the commercialization of the products. The project is expected to end in September 2020; developers hope to make a positive impact in growth of the biobased and agricultural sectors.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The European Commission (EC) will host a webinar on biobased products developed from fast pyrolysis oil, where four companies will present their work. A technology that can convert a wide range of biomass into clean and uniform bio-oil that is easy to transport and store, fast pyrolysis has mostly focused, thus far, on the use of pyrolysis oil for energy purposes. According to EC, the Horizon 2020 project called Bio4Products, however, has recently developed a technology to divide pyrolysis oil into multiple fractions that could be used for material applications. In its webinar, EC will showcase some of the latest results from companies using this technology. Part of a series of webinars called From Biomass to Biobased Products, the webinar will be on February 20, 2020, at 5:00 a.m. (EST). Interested parties may register for the webinar here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On January 17, 2020, the European Union (EU) announced a new innovative project called BIOGEARS that will be funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The project focuses on the development of biobased gear solutions for the creation of an eco-friendly offshore aquaculture sector using a multitrophic approach and new biobased value chains. With the aim to address the gap of biobased ropes for offshore aquaculture, which is currently manufactured with 100 percent non-recyclable plastics, BIOGEARS will create a biobased value chain under the EU Bioeconomy Strategy framework. The European Bioeconomy Strategy aims to accelerate the deployment of a sustainable and circular European bioeconomy to maximize its contribution towards the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as the Paris Agreement. With the goal of increasing aquaculture marketable products, BIOGEARS uses an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) approach by integrating seaweed with mussel production. The BIOGEARS project’s intention is to develop biobased ropes that are tough, durable, and fit-for-purpose while still able to biodegrade in shorter time and managed by local composting facilities.

As part of the project, all project partners will participate in a BLUE LAB to enhance cooperation and enable tracking of innovation of the new biobased materials developed. Project coordinator, Leire Arantzamendi, expressed her hopes of boosting more eco-friendly mussel and seaweed production stating that BIOGEARS “will generate three rope prototypes with a highly reduced carbon footprint along the value chain.” The project will focus on the Atlantic Basin.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 25, 2019, Iowa State University’s (ISU) Vice President for Research, Dan Kirkpatrick, announced that Sundeep Vani, Ph.D., has joined the team as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Biobased Products, a newly created role. Announced in an ISU press release, Dr. Vani’s role will be to serve as a conduit between research and industry. Dr. Vani will work closely with the Biobased Product platform leader, Brent Shanks, his team, and the Iowa Innovation Corporation (IIC) CEO. Identifying promising emerging technologies and facilitating their development into market scale will also be at the top of Dr. Vani’s list of priorities. Dr. Vani stated that he is “excited to join Iowa State in this mission to grow Iowa’s economy through the state’s overall Biosciences initiative.” His addition to the team is partially attributed to Iowa’s legislature in July 2019 granting the university $825,000 in fiscal year 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 15, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS) announced via the Federal Register the solicitation of applications for funds under the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (the Program). Under the Program, USDA provides guaranteed loans to fund the development, construction, and retrofitting of commercial scale biorefineries using eligible technology. The loans are also used to fund the development of biobased product manufacturing facilities that use technologically new commercial-scale processing and manufacturing equipment to convert renewable chemicals and other biobased outputs of biorefineries into end-user products on a commercial scale. There will be two separate application cycles. The first cycle closed on October 1, 2019, and the second cycle will close on April 1, 2020. Applications filed after the aforementioned dates will be considered for the next application cycle, should funding be available.


 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management published a final rule that will amend the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement (Guidelines) to add 30 sections designating the product categories within which biobased products would be afforded procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors. These 30 product categories contain finished products that are made, in large part, from intermediate ingredients that have been designated for federal procurement preference. Additionally, USDA is amending the existing designated product categories of general purpose de-icers, firearm lubricants, laundry products, and water clarifying agents. The rule will be effective on August 5, 2019.
 
According to the final rule, when USDA designates by rulemaking a product category for preferred procurement under the BioPreferred Program, manufacturers of all products under the umbrella of that product category that meet the requirements to qualify for preferred procurement can claim that status for their products. To qualify for preferred procurement, a product must be within a designated product category and contain at least the minimum biobased content established for the designated product category. With the designation of these specific product categories, USDA invites manufacturers and vendors of qualifying products to provide information on the product, contacts, and performance testing for posting on its BioPreferred website. USDA states that procuring agencies will be able to use this website “as one tool to determine the availability of qualifying biobased products under a designated product category.”
 
For further information, see Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s memorandum on the final rule. In the memorandum, we link to the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) and its interest in biobased products.


 
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