- Sandia National Laboratories, “Riding Bacterium to the Bank”
- Biomass Magazine, “NREL Discovers Enzyme Domains that Improve Performance”
- Neste, “City of San Leandro in California Switches Its Municipal Vehicles to Run on Neste MY Renewable Diesel”
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.
On April 4, 2018, Unilver announced a partnership with Ioniqa and Indorama Ventures to pioneer a technology that converts Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) waste back into transparent virgin grade material for use in food packaging. This technology, developed by Ioniqa, aims to increase the percentage of PET that is recycled by making it possible to convert all PET waste, including colored packs, back into PET after separating out color and other contaminates. Unilever’s partnership is testing the feasibility of this technology at an industrial scale, with the goal of making the PET stream fully circular.
On April 17, 2018, the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) announced that ten startup companies had won the opportunity to pitch their technologies to major companies at the GC3’s 3rd Annual Green & Bio-Based Chemistry Technology Showcase & Networking Event. The Technology Showcase will be held on May 8, 2018, during the GC3 Annual Innovators Roundtable, with participation from 16 large companies, including Apple, BASF, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co., L’Oréal, and Procter & Gamble. The chosen startups are:
Monica Becker, Co-Director of the GC3 and Collaborative Innovation Platform Lead, said of the Showcase “these startups will begin discussions leading to joint development agreements, licensing, and investments with companies that are seeking new chemical technologies. . . . Our goal is to get these technologies to market and scale to contribute to safer and more sustainable products and operations.” A wide variety of processes are covered by these startups, including technology that produces surfactants without using petroleum, palm oil, or traditional chemical processes, such as ethoxylation or chlorination, and a technology that provides a new, green platform chemistry for cleaning solvents, adhesives, plasticizers, and paint coalescers.
On March 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced that by studying and comparing the cellulose-degrading enzymes of two fungi, NREL researchers have pinpointed regions on these enzymes that can be targeted via genetic engineering to help break down cellulose faster. The article published in Nature Communications, “Engineering enhanced cellobiohydrolase activity,” describes NREL’s long-running study of the fungal cellobiohydrolases (CBH) -- enzymes that use hydrolysis as their main chemistry to degrade cellulose -- Trichoderma reesei (TrCel7A) and Penicillium funiculosum (PfCel7A). The announcement states that in both nature and industrial processes, enzymes from this family are among the most significant enzymes for breaking down cellulose; a “projected 2,000-ton-per-day cellulosic ethanol plant could potentially use up to 5,000 tons of enzyme per year, and half of that enzyme cocktail could be from this enzyme family.”
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.
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.