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.

Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) is investigating whether algae can be used to transform the Salton Sea, one of California’s largest and most polluted lakes, into a productive and profitable resource.  The Salton Sea Biomass Remediation project (SABRE), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), aims to use algae to rid the lake of pollutants while creating a renewable, domestic source of fuel and other chemicals.   Algae are known to thrive in environments like the Salton Sea, which contains elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus due to agricultural runoff. 
 
In the first phase of the project, Sandia partnered with Texas A&M AgriLife Research to investigate the efficacy of a new algal farming method, known as the “Algal Turf Scrubber” floway system.  The algae consume the nitrogen and phosphorus from the polluted water that is pumped into the system using solar-powered pumps.  Clean water is then deposited back into the lake.  
 
The second phase began in May and the initial results indicate that the system can produce a quantity of algae comparable to raceways, the traditional algal farming method.  The algae being grown are native to the area which makes it more resistant to attacks from local pathogens and predators.  By helping to clean polluted water, Sandia researchers have overcome a major criticism of algae as a biofuel source, specifically that farming algae requires too much water.  Additionally, the removal of pollutants, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and other fertilizer components, is expected to provide a model of remediation for algae blooms.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 26, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of BRAG, announced that its Specialty Chemicals business issued in final the first in a series of application agreements for biobased polymers from its collaboration with Itaconix, a specialty chemicals company and U.S. subsidiary of Revolymer.  AkzoNobel develops Itaconix’s proprietary polymers from itaconic acid for commercial use in the coatings and construction industries.  Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Research, Development and Innovation Director for AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business, stated that the collaboration fits closely with AkzoNobel’s Planet Possible sustainability agenda of doing more with less and its approach to embracing open innovation for more sustainable solutions.
 
AkzoNobel signed a framework joint development agreement with Itaconix to explore opportunities for biobased polymer production on January 27, 2017, as previously reported in the BRAG blog post AkzoNobel to Produce Biobased Polymers with Itaconix.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 6, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that it would direct a large amount of its resources to researching waste and waste raw materials.  In the future, Neste aims to produce biofuels and bioplastics from waste and residues, as well as utilize waste plastics as a raw material.  Currently, waste fats and residues from meat and fish processing industries, as well as used cooking oil, account for nearly 80 percent of the raw materials in Neste's renewable products.  The aim of investing in the research venture is to find increasingly lower grade waste and residue raw materials that have no other significant uses, such as residues from the forestry industry, algae, and waste plastics.  The same NEXBTL technology that allows Neste to refine low-quality waste fats into high-quality fully renewable fuel can be used to produce other renewable products, such as aviation fuel and raw materials for bioplastics.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 2, 2017, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the availability of Project Peer Review 2017 presentations.  The biennial event provides an opportunity for external stakeholders to evaluate rigorously the technical approach, progress, relevance, and overall merit of all the projects in the BETO portfolio.  The review was conducted across nine technology areas, including:

  • Feedstock Supply and Logistics;
  • Advanced Algal Systems;
  • Thermochemical Conversion;
  • Biochemical Conversion;
  • Waste to Energy;
  • Analysis and Sustainability;
  • Demonstration and Market Transformation;
  • Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines; and
  • Feedstock-Conversion Interface Consortium.  

The peer reviewers, which consisted of 47 experienced and knowledgeable bioenergy experts from industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, and government, will provide an assessment of the focus and scope of each technology area, as well as recommendations for strategic direction.  The publicly available 2017 Peer Review Final Report will be prepared in time for the Program Management Review on July 13, 2017.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting a Workshop on Moving Beyond Drop-In Replacements:  Performance Advantaged Bio-Based Chemicals on June 1, 2017, in Denver, Colorado.  The purpose of the workshop is to solicit stakeholder feedback on what research and development is necessary for writing a functional replacements and novel biobased compounds strategic plan.  The discussion, which will be restricted to polymers, small molecules, and other building block chemicals, will center on the following questions:​

  • Would a strategy document for bio-based novel compounds and functional replacements be useful? What would it look like?
  • What is the best strategy for developing a bio-based novel compounds and functional replacements guiding document?
  • What are the biggest challenges in identifying novel compounds and functional replacements?  
  • What are the most critical properties to screen for when developing screening protocols?
  • How can BETO best bridge the gap between those producing novel bio-based compounds and those who need novel compounds or replacements for their formulations?

Registration is available online.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 21, 2017, AkzoNobel announced the 20 finalists for its Imagine Chemistry initiative.  The initiative, which was launched earlier this year as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge,” aims to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and uncover sustainable opportunities for the Company's Specialty Chemicals business.  Of the 20 projects selected, four focus on cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics, three focus on biobased and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners, and two focus on biobased sources of ethylene and ethylene oxides.  All finalists will participate in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s research facility to further develop their business ideas and concepts.  A brief description of each project is available on AkzoNobel’s website.


 

 

On February 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is accepting applications for the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program.  The Program provides guaranteed loans for projects developing, constructing, or retrofitting commercial scale biorefineries and biobased product manufacturing facilities.  The developments must use eligible technology, including new commercial scale processing and manufacturing equipment.  Applicants must submit a Letter of Intent by March 6, 2017, that identifies the Borrower, Lender, and Project sponsors, and describes the project, project location, proposed feedstock, primary technologies of the facility, primary products, loan amount, and total project cost estimate.  Applications are due on April 3, 2017, at 4:30 pm (EDT)


 

The Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference 2017 (ABLC 2017) will be held March 1 - 3, 2017, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.  ABLC is the gathering point for top leaders in the Advanced Bioeconomy -- bringing together the entire spectrum of advanced fuels, chemicals, and materials CEOs and senior executives, business developers, R&D leaders, strategic partners, financiers, equity analysts, policymakers, and industry suppliers.  Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist for Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), and Kathleen M. Roberts, Executive Director of BRAG, are featured speakers.  Register online.

ABLC 2017 is a connected series of five conferences on pressing issues in the Bioeconomy.  These conferences are:  

  1. The 8th Annual Advanced Fuels Summit -- focused this year on Advanced Biomass Diesel and BioCrude, and Advanced Alcohols and Alternatives to gasoline;

     

  2. The 7th Annual Renewable Chemicals Summit -- focused this year on Organic Acids and 1-Step to Higher Value Chemicals;

     

  3. The 8th Annual Aviation Biofuels Summit;

     

  4. The 3rd Annual ABLC Feedstocks Summit; and

     

  5. The 1st ABLC Gas Conversion & Markets Summit.  


 
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