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 May 23, 2017, President Trump released the Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018, which includes significant cuts to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budgets.  According to the proposed budget, funding for DOE would be cut by 5.6 percent to $28 billion, with $636 million allotted for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and $56.6 million for the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO).  The proposed DOE budget aims to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.
 
The proposed EPA budget of $5.7 billion would cut funding by 31 percent when compared to estimated 2017 appropriations.  Funding for the Clean Power Plan and climate change research and partnership programs, such as the Energy Star program, would be eliminated.  Also included in the cuts would be a $17 million reduction in funding for the Federal Vehicle and Fuels Standards and Certifications program, which oversees the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  According to EPA, it will continue to implement, maintain oversight of, and evaluate compliance with the RFS program in 2018
 
Under the proposed budget, funding for mandatory USDA programs would decrease from $123 billion in FY 2017 to $116 billion in FY 2018 and funding for discretionary programs would decrease from $26 billion to $21 billion.  The Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Rural Energy for America Program are among the programs targeted for elimination. 
 
More information on the proposed agency budgets is available at the DOE, EPA, and USDA websites.

Tags: DOE, EPA, USDA, Budget

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On May 24, 2017, DOE announced that 68 small businesses across 24 states will receive a total of $72 million in grants to support innovative R&D.  The funding was provided by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  The 68 small businesses received Phase II R&D awards after demonstrating technical feasibility for innovations during their Phase I grants and competed for funding for prototype or process development during Phase II.  Two of the 73 proposed projects involve the production of biobased products, specifically:

  • Visolis, Inc received $1,010,000 to produce C5 hydrocarbons from organic waste biomass; and
  • Trash2Cash-Energy LLC received $999,909 to convert landfill gas to drop-in renewable fuel.

Additional awards may be announced as additional appropriated funds become available to the DOE SBIR and STTR programs.  More information on the recipients is available at the DOE Office of Science website.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On May 18, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the abstract submission deadline for its tenth annual Bioeconomy 2017: Domestic Resources for a Vibrant Future conference has been extended.  Abstracts for the Bioeconomy 2017 Interactive Poster Session and Open Technical Session will be accepted until May 26, 2017.  All posters are required to feature an interactive element, such as voting or polling, social media, games and challenges, or other activity that involves the audience’s participation.
 
As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post, “DOE Hosts Tenth Annual Bioeconomy Conference,” the event will take place on July 11-12, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.  Registration is available online.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting its tenth annual Bioeconomy 2017: Domestic Resources for a Vibrant Future conference on July 11-12, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.  As in years past, the conference will bring together government agency officials, members of Congress, industry leaders, national laboratory scientists, and academic researchers focused on moving the American bioeconomy forward.  Discussion will focus on:

  • Innovative technologies for the emerging bioeconomy; 
  • The economic opportunities of reliable American feedstock;           
  • New and growing markets for the bioeconomy;
  • Bioenergy as part of the modern transportation future; and     
  • Leveraging the bioeconomy to create new jobs and address global challenges.

Registration is available online.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On May 1, 2017, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) published a notice in the Federal Register regarding its intent to extend its use of the EERE Environmental Questionnaire, with changes, for three years.  The questionnaire allows EERE to collect project-specific information from federal financial assistance awardees to evaluate the potential environmental impact of projects that it is considering for funding, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969.

EERE is also requesting comments on the questionnaire, specifically on:

  • Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of DOE, including whether the information shall have practical utility;
  • The accuracy of DOE's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • ​Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Comments are due by June 30, 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, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the 38 small businesses that will collaborate with researchers from eight national laboratories under the Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot, which aims to foster a strong partnership between the labs and clean tech small businesses.  The 38 businesses represent the third round of SBV, which brings the total number of partnerships under the program to 114.  SBV provides small businesses with access to unique national lab facilities and experts to test, develop, and validate their innovative products.  The following national labs have received $200,000 in funding to collaborate with small businesses focused on bioenergy projects:

  • The Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will work with Gevo to create a blending model that works over a variety of representative gasoline base fuel compositions by developing a synergistic and antagonistic relationship between gasoline and isobutanol; 
  • The Idaho National Laboratory will work with Cogent to improve its small-scale gasifier for distributed waste-to-energy applications and markets by properly homogenizing and sizing the feedstock material so that it can be continuously fed into the gasifier and meet real-world feedstock processing requirements;     
  • The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will work with Kalion to reach full manufacturing scale production of glucaric acid and glucuronic acid by creating a manufacturing-ready production strain and scaling up that strain;                  
  • The Oak Ridge National Laboratory will work with Synvitrobio to develop cell-free based analytical tools that significantly accelerate the design-build-test cycles for converting renewable biomass to higher-order chemicals, such as mevalonate and vanillin; and
  • The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will work with ThermChem to identify the potentially valuable and intermediate chemicals in the aqueous phases of hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) process liquids and convert them into value-added biochemical/bioproducts.
SBV is part of the Tech-to-Market Program within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which aims to eliminate common barriers that prevent market exploration of new energy technologies.
Tags: DOE, SBV

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 19, 2017, DOE announced an open teleconference of the State Energy Advisory Board (STEAB) in the Federal Register.  STEAB advises DOE and EERE on the operation of its energy efficiency programs, renewable energy programs, and grant programs for research and deployment in energy efficiency and renewable energy fields.  The tentative agenda includes:

  • STEAB Task Force updates and objectives for fiscal year (FY) 2017;        
  • Follow-up opportunities and engagement with EERE and other DOE staff as needed to keep Task Force work moving forward;                  
  • Continued engagement with DOE, EERE, and DOE’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis (EPSA) staff regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and initiatives; and     
  • Updates on member activities within their states.
The meeting will occur on May 18, 2017, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EDT).  To receive call-in information or to submit a request to make oral comments, contact Michael Li, Policy Advisor, EERE, at 202-287-5718 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by May 11, 2016.

 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting an Algae Cultivation for Carbon Capture and Utilization Workshop on May 23-24, 2017, in Orlando, Florida.  The event will feature facilitated discussions focused on gathering stakeholder input on innovative technologies and business strategies for growing algae on waste carbon dioxide (CO2) resources.  Stakeholders will be encouraged to consider challenges and opportunities related to:

                               
■  Sourcing CO2, including quality, quantity, siting, and transport considerations; 
 
■  Cultivating algae, including biomass productivity, efficiency in CO2 utilization, and carbon balances in end products; and
 
■  Finding sustainable “win-win” solutions to reducing CO2 emissions while finding cost savings.


Workshop discussion will help inform DOE strategies to realize affordable, scalable, and sustainable production biofuels and bioproducts made from algae.  Registration is available online.


 
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