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 23, 2018, DOE announced that researchers at PNNL have developed a catalyst capable of converting ethanol directly into butadiene.  Butadiene is the building block for nearly every major synthetic plastic or rubber in the U.S, including tires, fuel hoses, and children’s toys.  The project, which is sponsored by BETO, aimed to generate butadiene from renewable sources by developing a new catalyst that can convert ethanol into butadiene.  The current ethanol-to-butadiene catalysts required pure ethanol, free of water, to be passed through multiple times to achieve a 70 percent yield.  The team of PNNL researchers has developed a silver nitrate powder and zirconyl nitrate-based catalyst capable of converting 70 percent of aqueous ethanol to butadiene in a single pass under industrially-relevant conditions.  According to Vanessa Dagle, it is the most active ethanol-to-butadiene catalyst reported to date and introduces the possibility of renewable ethanol as a source of butadiene in addition to petroleum.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On December 12, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that its additional production capacity for renewable diesel, renewable aviation fuel, and raw materials for various biochemical uses will be located in Singapore.  Following the decision, Neste will develop the technical design for the new product line, with the goal of securing a final investment decision by the end of 2018 and starting production by 2022.  The project will expand the capacity of Neste’s Singapore refinery increased to three million tons by 2020 and will incorporate an enhanced pre-treatment unit in preparation for the use of increasingly poor-quality waste materials.


 

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 Kathleen M. Roberts

On November 29, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that a collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) resulted in the successful modification of a microorganism to produce a versatile fermentation intermediate that can be upgraded into valuable biobased fuels and chemicals.  NREL’s cellulosic ethanol fermentation organism (Zymomonas mobilis), is capable of exclusively producing 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BDO), which can be catalytically upgraded to a variety of hydrocarbon fuel precursors and valuable chemical co-products.  Techno-economic modeling was performed to study the potential of producing hydrocarbon fuel precursors and co-products in a cost effective manner.  The first breakthrough occurred with genetic modifications to eliminate the ethanol pathways to ensure that sugar metabolism pathways also produced 2,3-BDO.  ORNL continues to explore modifications to its catalytic upgrading system to achieve further process simplifications and cost savings.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its final rule establishing exemptions for a tolerance limit to use tall oil fatty acids (TOFA) as an inert ingredient “[‌i]n pesticide formulations applied to growing crops and raw agricultural commodities after harvest; in pesticides applied in/on animals, and in antimicrobial formulations for food contact surfaces.”  Pursuant to Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA has the authority to establish exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance only when it can be demonstrated clearly that the risks from aggregate exposure to the pesticide residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures, particularly to infants and children, for which there is reliable information, will pose no appreciable risks to human health.  In analyzing the risk, EPA considers both the toxicity of the inert ingredient and the reasonably foreseeable circumstances for exposure to the substance.  Following its evaluation and consideration of the validity, completeness, and reliability of available toxicity data, EPA determined that sufficient data were available to conclude that TOFA do not have a toxic mechanism and will not pose a risk to the U.S. population. 
 
EPA established the final rulemaking following a petition by Spring Trading Company on behalf of Ingevity Corporation requesting that 40 C.F.R. Sections 180.910, 180.930, and 180.940(a) be amended to establish the exemptions.  The regulation is effective immediately and eliminates the need to establish maximum permissible levels for residues of TOFA that are consistent with the conditions of these exemptions.  Objections and requests for hearings regarding the regulation are due by December 11, 2017.


 
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