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 January 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of its Energy Storage Grand Challenge (the Grand Challenge). A comprehensive program to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies, the Grand Challenge builds on the $158 million Advanced Energy Storage Initiative announced in President Trump’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request. U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette states that the Grand Challenge will address the creation and sustainability of U.S. global leadership in energy storage utilization and exports, with a secure and independent manufacturing supply chain. Through a series of research and development (R&D) funding opportunities, prizes, partnerships, and other programs, the Grand Challenge aims to achieve the following goals by 2030:

  • Technology Development -- through the establishment of a comprehensive R&D portfolio;
  • Technology Transfer -- through the acceleration of the technology pipeline from research to private-sector adoption;
  • Policy and Valuation -- through the development of best models, data, and analysis to inform effective value propositions and use cases for storage technologies;
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chain -- through design of new technologies that will strengthen U.S. manufacturing, recyclability, and independence from foreign sources; and
  • Workforce -- through training the next generation of American workers to meet 21st century electric grid and energy storage value chain needs.

As its first step in the Grand Challenge, DOE plans on releasing requests for information (RFI) on the key questions and issues the challenge seeks to address in the near future. Also in the coming weeks, DOE intends to host a series of workshops with key stakeholders to share information about various storage technologies, barriers to their deployment, and overcoming these barriers to bring technologies to market.

Tags: DOE, Challenge


By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 17, 2019, DOE BETO announced that the deadline for submission to its Manufacturing Innovator Challenge has been extended to February 10, 2019.  As DOE seeks new concepts in biobased materials to address today’s manufacturing challenges, the Manufacturing Innovator Challenge is an effort to incentivize solutions that increase energy productivity and strengthen the U.S. industrial base.  Prizes are open for ideas focused on Biobased Additive Manufacturing (BAM) and will be distributed to three winners.  BAM involves the production of rapid prototyping of complex structures through biobased three-dimensional printing.  To qualify for the BAM prize, candidates are required to identify new materials that are made from at least 90 percent plant matter or algae, and that can meet or improve the performance of current three-dimensional printing materials.


By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 20, 2018, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) announced the opening of the 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  The announcement states that EPA “supports the continuation of the awards program for 2018 under the sponsorship of the ACS GCI,” and “[t]o ensure continuity, the awards categories and guidelines are remaining the same, only the timing of the awards cycle is changing, and the ACS GCI will be managing the awards program and making final decisions about award winners.”  The award guidelines and nomination package will be posted on the ACS GCI website by April 30, 2018; Submissions will be accepted from April 30, 2018, through July 2, 2018; award winners will be notified no later than August 31, 2018; and the awards ceremony will be held in Washington, D.C. in October 2018.
More information is available in our memorandum “ACS GCI Announces Opening of 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards; EPA Announces Opening of 2018 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards.”


By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 6, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the winners of its Imagine Chemistry challenge.  The following winners have been awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business to help bring their ideas to market:

  • Ecovia Renewables was awarded for its fermentation technology to make polyglutamic acid, which can be used to make thickeners for personal care products and other uses;
  • Industrial Microbes was awarded for its solution to use genetically modified microorganisms to turn CO2 and natural gas into key chemical building blocks, such as ethylene oxide; and
  • Renmatix was awarded for its technology to use pressurized water to break down plant biomass into cellulosic products with a range of end-use applications.
The awardees were selected from a group of 20 finalists that participated in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s Deventer Open Innovation Center.  In addition to the winners, seven other finalists were awarded prizes, such as a research agreement with AkzoNobel, chemical research support from AkzoNobel, a rent voucher for the Deventer Open Innovation Center, partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG, and partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG.  More information on the Imagine Chemistry Challenge is available in the BRAG blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge.”


On June 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2017 Green Chemistry Challenge Award (GCCA).  We applaud this year’s winners.   This is EPA’s 22nd year of using the GCCA to honor green chemistry technologies that spur economic growth, reduce costs, and decrease waste.  We are saddened that this very successful voluntary program is slated to be defunded in the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget, which, of course, must be approved by Congress and is unlikely to be in its current form.  Those who value the green chemistry program may wish to consider contacting their Senators and Representatives to encourage continued support of this highly successful and important program.  It has had outsized benefits for such a modestly funded program. 
This year's winners and technologies are:

  • Merck & Co., Inc. in Greener Synthetic Pathways - Letermovir: A Case Study in State-of-the-Art Approaches to Sustainable Commercial Manufacturing Processes in the Pharmaceutical Industry

    Merck’s approach was to design an efficient synthesis as early as possible in the drug Letermovir’s process development. Using “high-throughput” techniques, Merck was able to find a low-cost, stable, and easily recyclable catalyst along with other process improvements that increase the yield, and reduce the raw material costs by 93 percent, the water usage by 90 percent, and the carbon footprint by 89 percent.


  • Amgen Inc. and Bachem in Greener Reaction Conditions - Green Process for Commercial Manufacture of Etelcalcetide Enabled by Improved Technology for Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis

    Amgen Inc. worked with Bachem to improve the manufacturing process for the active ingredient in ParsabivTM, a drug that treats secondary hyperparathyroidism in adult patients with chronic kidney disease. By redesigning the peptide manufacturing process to use four optimized stages rather than the original five stages, Amgen and Bachem were able to achieve a 500 percent increase in manufacturing capacity while reducing chemical solvent use by 71 percent, manufacturing operating time by 56 percent, and manufacturing cost by 76 percent.


  • The Dow Chemical Company and Papierfabrik August Koehler SE in Designing Greener Chemicals - Breakthrough Sustainable Imaging Technology for Thermal Paper

    While there is still not a definitive answer as to whether the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in thermal paper may present risk, Dow and Koehler sought an innovative alternative that not only avoids the need for BPA (or analogs that have similar toxicological properties), but also eliminates some of the drawbacks of thermal paper, notably that exposure to sunlight or other heat sources often destroys the image. Together they developed a three-layer paper. The top layer is an opaque, light-color.When heat is applied in the printing head, the hollow particles that make up that opaque layer collapse and become transparent, showing an underlying dark layer only at those points. The paper is designed to work in existing equipment, so there is no need for retailers to replace equipment.


  • UniEnergy Technologies LLC in Small Business - The UniSystemTM: An Advanced Vanadium Redox Flow Battery for Grid-Scale Energy Storage

    UniEnergy Technologies, LLC (UET) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed and commercialized an advanced vanadium redox flow battery that allows cities and businesses more access to stored energy. The vanadium electrolyte has double the energy density of prior chemistries, and a much broader operating temperature, allowing for a longer lasting battery that can be deployed in nearly any ambient environment on earth. Additionally, the electrolyte, with a chloride-based chemistry complex, is more stable than traditional sulfate-based chemistries, and because it is water-based and does not degrade, the batteries are non-flammable and recyclable.


  • Professor Eric J. Schelter of the University of Pennsylvania in Academic - Simple and Efficient Recycling of Rare Earth Elements from Consumer Materials Using Tailored Metal Complexes 

    Professor Eric Schelter developed a simple, fast, and low-cost technology to help recycle mixtures of rare earth elements (La-Lu, Sc, and Y). These elements are integral to modern technologies, but have a highly energy intensive and waste generating mining, refining, and purification process. Currently, only one percent of these materials are recycled, but Professor Schelter’s group has developed tailored organic compounds that can simply and effectively separate mixtures of these metals. A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant will support further development of this technology to turn these into industrial viable recycling processes.

The GCCA winners were honored on June 12, 2017, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference


On October 18, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has opened nominations for the 2017 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA).  Since 1996, these awards have honored companies and institutions that develop processes and products to help protect public health and the environment.  EPA’s strong support for the adoption of green chemistry has helped strengthen the development and commercialization of green chemistry products, leading to significant environmental benefits alongside economic benefits.  Previous PGCCA winners annually eliminate 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents and 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide releases, and save over 21 billion gallons of water.  There are six award categories for 2017:

Focus Area 1:  Greener Synthetic Pathways; 

Focus Area 2:  Greener Reaction Conditions;

Focus Area 3:  The Design of Greener Chemicals;

Small Business (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a small business);

Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher); and
Specific Environmental Benefit:  Climate Change (for a technology in any of the three focus areas that reduces greenhouse gas emissions).

Nominations for these awards are due to EPA by December 31, 2016, with more information about the selection criteria and how to enter on the EPA PGCCA website.


On January 8, 2016, seven biofuel and agriculture groups requested the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) for 2014, 2015, and 2016.  The Petition was filed by Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Americans for Clean Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers, and the Renewable Fuels Association.  The groups intend to challenge the authority of EPA to set volume requirements for biofuel blending below standards put forth in the 2007 RFS law.  The new RFS volumes were finalized in November of 2015, and brought criticism from biofuel groups as blending levels were lower than expected while petroleum groups stated that the higher 2007 requirements were not feasible with current infrastructure.  This challenge to EPA’s authority in setting the RFS will prolong the uncertainty that has followed the RFS since earlier rulings were delayed.  


With the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) ceremony drawing near, the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) Biobased News and Policy Report decided to go back and revisit some early winners to see what has become of the award-winning product or technology. We will be running a new story each week as we approach this year's awards ceremony, occurring July 13, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT), at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Read previous stories on BRAG's website.

The 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was won by three scientists -- Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs, and Richard Shrock -- for the "development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." Olefin metathesis, a chemical reaction where the groups on the end of two double bonds are exchanged, was originally discovered in the 1950s, but the true scope of metathesis's abilities were not realized until much later. The three Laureates separately focused on metathesis reactions and built upon each other's work to determine not only what metal compounds act as catalysts for metathesis reactions, but created efficient, simple, and environmentally friendly synthesis methods to create many different chemicals. Elevance won the 2012 Small Business Award for using the metathesis catalysts "to produce high-performing, green specialty chemicals at advantageous costs."

Using metathesis catalysts, Elevance began producing specialty chemicals from vegetable oils. Making these chemicals uses significantly less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions when compared to traditional petroleum-based chemicals. The high-value, functional chemicals products combine the benefits of a traditional petrochemical and those of biobased chemicals in a process far more streamlined than was previously possible. This met a commercial demand that was previously unsatisfied, as these metathesis products include multiple desirable qualities such as higher stability in lubricating oils and higher solvency in surfactants. The specialty chemicals that Elevance produces are more effective and sustainable than traditional petrochemicals, while reducing reliance on environmentally hazardous and finite petrochemicals.

When Elevance won the Green Chemistry Award in 2012, the Company was already in the process of building a commercial biorefinery in Indonesia with the ability to produce between 400 million and 800 million pounds of metathesized biobased chemicals. In 2013, Elevance announced that a biodiesel facility in Natchez, Mississippi, would be converted into a second biorefinery with a capacity of 680 million pounds of Inherent™ renewable building blocks being produced by 2016. After winning the Green Chemistry Award, Elevance has continued to expand commercialization and produce biobased chemicals using metathesis catalysts. The Company was a 2015 WBM Bio Business Award Winner, winning Bio-Based Product Innovation of the Year for Elevance Clean™ 1200, a volatile organic compound (VOC)-exempt degreasing solvent. Elevance also won a Bloomberg New Energy Finance: 2015 New Energy Pioneer Award and has been listed on multiple rankings of hot and innovative biobased companies.


With the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) ceremony drawing near, the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) Biobased News and Policy Report decided to go back and revisit some early winners to see what has become of the award-winning product or technology. We will be running a new story each week as we approach this year's awards ceremony, occurring July 13, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT), at the National Academies of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Read previous stories on BRAG's website.

Buckman International, Inc. (Buckman) won the 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge "Designing Greener Chemicals" award for its Maximyze® enzymes that transform how high-quality paper products are made. This was the second time Buckman was awarded the PGCCA in this category; the first was in 2004 when Buckman won for its Optimyze® technology, an enzyme that removes sticky contaminates from recycled paper.

Optimyze® technology uses a novel enzyme to remove stickies from paper products prior to recycling, increasing the percentage of paper that can be recycled. Each paper mill that switches to Optimyze® can reduce its hazardous solvent use by 200 gallons daily, reduce its chemical use by approximately 600,000 pounds yearly, increase its production by more than 6 percent, and save up to $1 million per year.

The Maximyze® enzymes increase the natural cross-linking between cellulose fibers. The increase in cross-linking means that lower quality raw materials can be used without sacrificing quality of the final paper. Normally, increasing cross-linking requires additional refining (crushing) energy or chemicals that cross-link the fibers. With Maximyze®, a paper mill can produce a similar quality product while replacing relatively expensive wood pulp with recycled paper and inorganic filler. An added benefit is that the paper produced by Maximyze® enzymes drains faster, requiring less drying energy, which leads to faster throughput. Overall, the process saves energy, reduces chemical use, increases recycled paper use, and saves paper mills approximately $1 million each year. The Maximyze® technology is used on 150 or more paper machines around the globe.

Buckman, based in Memphis, Tennessee, has been working with paper since 1945, when it was founded, to solve microbial problems in the pulp and paper industry. Since winning its first PGCCA in 2004, the innovative company:


With the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) ceremony drawing near, the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) Biobased News and Policy Report decided to go back and revisit some early winners to see what has become of the award-winning product or technology. We will be running a new story each week as we approach this year's awards ceremony, occurring July 13, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT), at the National Academies of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention sponsors the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® and other members of the chemical community including industry, trade associations, academic institutions, and other government agencies.

The very first Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in the Designing Greener Chemicals category was awarded in 1996 to Sea-Nine™ marine antifoulant, developed by Rohm and Haas, now a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. Sea-Nine™ was created as a novel antifoulant coating to replace tin-based antifoulants that are environmentally persistent and toxic. After the Organotin Antifoulant Paint Control Act of 1988 was enacted, restricting the use of tin in the United States, Rohm and Haas began to research environmentally safe alternatives to organotin. This search lead to the discovery of the active ingredient in Sea-Nine™: 4,5-dichloro-2-n-octyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one (DCOIT). DCOIT was tested against the then-standard tin-based antifoulant tributyl tin oxide (TBTO), and was found to have the same effectiveness of TBTO when protecting ships' hulls in addition to being significantly less persistent than TBTO once it was in seawater.

Sea-Nine™ received the first new EPA registration for antifoulant use in over a decade, and has continued to be widely recognized in the industry for its effectiveness and environmental benefits when compared to tin-based antifoulants. In August 2014, the European Commission approved DCOIT for use in antifouling products that fall under Biocidal Product Regulation (BPR), the European Union's legislation that approves active substances and biocidal products while ensuring the safety of humans and the environment. Marine Antifoulant coatings are a very difficult category to make environmentally friendly due to the need for high toxicity on ships, combined with the requirement for low toxicity when the product is dispersed in seawater. Even now, nearly 20 years later, Sea-Nine™ is the only marine antifoulant that The Dow Company currently produces due to its high effectiveness and low human and marine health risk.

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