Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C., law firm providing biobased and renewable chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in bringing innovative products to market.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is offering the first Renewable Chemicals Production (RCP) Tax Credit in the United States. What does this mean? It means that the program provides an opportunity for industry stakeholders to advance Iowa’s economy through a focus on biomass as a feedstock for the production of renewable chemicals. As an attempt to incentivize the production of 30 high-value chemicals derived from biomass feedstocks, IEDA developed the RCP Tax Credit program to “capitalize on its resources and infrastructure and to capture the renewable chemical manufacturing industry.” IEDA is offering tax credit of $0.05 per pound of renewable chemical produced. Start-ups can receive up to $1 million in credit, and established businesses can earn up to $500,000. Applications are open until March 15, 2020, for chemicals produced in 2019.


 

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

First published last week, on November 25, 2019, the article titled “Consolidated Production of Coniferol and Other High-Value Aromatic Alcohols Directly from Lignocellulosic Biomass” has gained media attention across the globe. Given the finite geological oil reserves, the competition to identify alternative biobased and biorefinery processes continues to grow. According to the article, the aim in identifying such products is not only to find alternatives, but most importantly to “overcome significant costs and productivity barriers.” In the aforementioned article, published in the Green Chemistry Journal, scientists write about a novel technique using the biocatalytic production of coniferol (a versatile chemical block) directly from lignocellulosic biomass. The process to do so involves a biocatalytic treatment of lignocellulose, which releases and converts ferulic acid with feruloyl esterase (XynZ), carboxylic acid reductase (CAR), and aldo-keto reductase (AKR). This catalytic reaction achieves the equivalent release of ferulic acid from lignocellulose compared to alkaline hydrolysis, also displaying efficient conversion of ferulic acid to coniferol. Consolidating a biodegradation-biotransformation strategy for the production of high value fine chemicals from waste plant biomass, this novel process offers a potential to minimize environmental waste and add value to agro-industrial residues. A number of grants, including from the São Paulo Research Foundation and David Phillips Fellowship, supported the study outlined in the journal article. Grants of these types continue to arise as the need to address resource efficiency and, therefore, biobased chemical production has become the focus of various government agencies in many countries. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for example, often provides scientist from all backgrounds similar opportunities.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 17, 2019, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology unanimously approved the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act (H.R. 2051), a companion bill to legislation introduced in the Senate by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced the House bill on April 3, 2019. It is co-sponsored by Representative John Moolenaar (R-MI). The bill is intended to improve coordination of federal activities, including research and development of more sustainable chemicals, processes, and systems, by establishing a coordinating entity under the National Science and Technology Council within the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The legislation would allow the agencies involved in this entity to work, in consultation with qualified stakeholders, to assess the state of sustainable chemistry in the United States and encourage the validation of tools for assessment of sustainable chemistry processes or products. The agencies would include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and other related federal agencies, as appropriate. The bill also supports improved education and training in sustainable chemistry.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 8, 2019, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced the winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II, a challenge intended to highlight the range of biobased materials that can be produced with field corn feedstock. The three winners included:

  • ExoPolymer, Inc. for a plan to create a new profile of customizable, polysaccharide-based hydrocolloids that are domestically produced by microbial fermentation using corn sugar as a feedstock. These new hydrocolloids will meet the growing needs and performance gaps in the healthcare, personal care, food, pharmaceutical and energy industries.
  • Sumatra Biorenewables, LLC for the development and production of novel monomers that are incorporated into polyamides and polyesters to provide tensile strength and low water absorption. These superior performance-advantaged materials have wide-ranging applications in the specialty nylon's industry. Opportunities include improved hydrophobicity, anti-static, flame-retardant, or have tuned mechanical strength to meet customer specifications.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, for a plan to use emulsifiers, polymer films, and coatings made from corn starch and vegetable oil rather than petroleum.

The diversification of biobased uses for field corn is important in an industry that is working to move away from ethanol production as second-generation biofuel technologies become more advanced and prove to be more sustainable than earlier biofuel types. Nebraska farmer and NCGA Feed Food and Industrial Action Team Chair Dan Wesely said of the challenge, “It is encouraging for farmers to know that companies are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives for biobased products.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 18, 2019, Neste, a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, and LyondellBassell announced the first commercial scale parallel production of biobased polypropylene and biobased low-density polyethylene. This project used Neste’s renewable hydrocarbons, derived from sustainable biobased raw materials, such as waste and residue oils, to produce food packaging bioplastics marked as Circulen and Circulen Plus by LyondellBasell. "We are excited to enable the plastics industry to introduce more bio-based material into its offering. It is very satisfying to see Neste's renewable hydrocarbons performing perfectly in a commercial scale production of bio-based polymers, providing a drop-in replacement option to fossil materials," stated Neste's President and CEO Peter Vanacker.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering an opportunity for funding to advance a bioenergy or biochemical production technology toward commercial scale through the construction and operation of a pilot plant. To be eligible for the AGRI Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant, applicants must be a Minnesota-based company, learning institution, local government unit, Native American Tribal community, or individual (including for-profit businesses and colleges/universities). Eligible grant projects will be for the development of innovative bioenergy or biochemical production technology ideas that have advanced beyond the proof of concept and are at the scaling up to pilot-plant stage. Up to $150,000 will be awarded and must be used for:  (1) wages, software, or anything else necessary to perform the tasks of the grant project’s work plan; and (2) equipment needed for the project implementation. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. (CDT) on April 26, 2019.  For further details, see the Request for Proposals.


 

 

 
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