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 February 25, 2018, the University of Illinois announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a $10.6 million grant for the Renewable Oil Generated with Ultra-productive Energycane (ROGUE) project.  The project is a collaborative effort between researchers from the University of Illinois, Brookhaven National Lab, University of Florida, and Mississippi State University.  ROGUE aims to transform sugarcane and Miscanthus into sustainable sources of biodiesel and biojet fuel by engineering the crops to produce oil rather than sugar.  Researchers anticipate that the crops will achieve 20 percent oil content and produce as much as 15 times more biodiesel per unit of land compared to soybeans.  Additionally, ROGUE aims to improve the photosynthetic efficiency of the crops to ensure that the production of energy-dense oil will not lower yields or suppress plant defenses.

Tags: DOE, ROGUE, Biofuel

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

Researchers at the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are seeking responses to a survey on biorefinery operations.  Yimin Zhang, an environmental engineer at NREL, and Marshall Goldberg, a subcontractor for NREL, developed the brief survey to improve the NREL’s understanding of the next generation biofuel industry and its contribution to the local, state, and national economy.  Industry stakeholders in the planning, construction, or operation stage of a biorefinery are asked to complete the survey by March 8, 2018.  The aggregate data will be used to report the survey results.  Individual responses will not be published.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

The DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting an Advanced Algal Systems Listening Session from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. (PDT) on June 13, 2018, in Seattle, Washington.  During the listening session, BETO will seek feedback from experts in algal biology, cultivation, and conversion on ways to address near-term research and development barriers and opportunities for cost-competitive algal biofuels and bioproducts.  The discussion will focus on opportunities and challenges in integrating algal productivity and biomass yield improvements in scalable algae cultivation systems to achieve high yields.
 
The listening session will be preceded by the 8th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts.  More information, including a detailed agenda and registration, will be available on the DOE website.

Tags: DOE, BETO, Algae

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On February 15, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the release of the Co-Optimization of Engines & Fuels (Co-Optima) report titled Fuel Blendstocks with the Potential to Optimize Future Gasoline Engine Performance (Fuel Blendstocks report), along with the companion report on Efficiency Merit Function for Spark Ignition Engines.  The Fuel Blendstocks report identifies eight blendstocks that have the potential to improve gasoline performance.  The assessment criteria included physical properties, high-level health-impacts, the ability to improve advanced spark-ignition engine efficiency, and the potential to be introduced commercially in the 2025-2030 timeframe.  According to the report, a targeted effort was made to identify fuel components that can be sourced from domestic biomass.  In addition to increasing U.S. energy security and creating jobs in rural America, use of renewable fuel components can provide technical, societal, and environmental benefits.  Part of the Co-Optima objective is focused on developing data on blendstock production, fuel properties, and engine performance to perform a detailed assessment of the benefits of sourcing blendstocks from biomass versus conventional resources, and to identify areas where further research and development are needed.  During the next phase, Co-Optima will validate the potential fuel efficiency improvements through engine testing and will also begin examining fuel efficiency gains in heavy-duty diesel engines.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On February 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the release of its 2017 Project Peer Review Report.  The report contains recommendations provided during the March 2017 Project Peer Review.  The biennial Peer Review process aims to gather feedback and recommendations from stakeholders on BETO’s research and development portfolio to help BETO identify the most efficient and effective ways to accelerate the development of an advanced bioenergy industry.  BETO will use the results of the 2017 Peer Review to inform programmatic decision making, modify or discontinue existing projects, guide future funding opportunities, and support other budget and strategic planning objectives.  As reported in the BRAG blog post BETO Announces Availability Of Project Peer Review 2017 Presentations, the 2017 Project Peer Review presentations are available on the BETO website.

Tags: DOE, BETO

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced the development of a method to create a supertough renewable plastic with improved manufacturability.  The method involved the addition of a small amount of silanes to polylactic acid (PLA), a bioplastic commonly used in packaging, textiles, biomedical implants, and 3D printing.  The new bioplastic demonstrated improved tensile strain and tensile toughness, without a loss in tensile strength and modulus.  According to ORNL’s Soydan Ozcan, the new method offers a fast, scalable route to increasing PLA toughness, which will broaden the use of PLA.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the availability of presentations from its Advanced Development and Optimization (ADO) Workshop.  As previously reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG­®) blog post DOE Advanced Development And Optimization Workshop, the workshop took place at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on December 12-13, 2017.  Discussion focused on how the new ADO program area can best serve stakeholders in developing the bioenergy industry, existing assets from past investments, and future needs and opportunities for maximizing such assets’ value.  
 
The following presentations are available on the BETO website:  

Tags: DOE, BETO, Workshop

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of up to $6 million in funding to support research in plant feedstock genomics for bioenergy.  Support is provided in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) through the Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, which aims to improve the use of biomass and plant feedstocks for the production of fuels or renewable chemical feedstocks.  Research projects should focus on overcoming biological barriers to the low-cost, high-quality, scalable, and sustainable production of dedicated bioenergy biomass feedstocks using the tools of genetics and genomics.  Eligible applicants, including state agricultural experiment stations, colleges and universities, university research foundations, individuals, non-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations, are encouraged to submit proposals.  Applications are due April 20, 2018.  More information on the funding opportunity is available on the NIFA website.


 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 14, 2017, General Automation Lab Technologies (GALT) announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) a three year $3.5 million grant to improve the growth and efficiency of biofuel-producing algae.  LLNL and GALT will collaborate on the project, which also aims to reduce wasted byproducts of photosynthesis by targeting microbiomes that can more efficiently recycle it back to carbon dioxide for the algae to grow better.  GALT’s novel high-throughput microbiome research technology will be used to screen tens of thousands of microbiome combinations.  Researchers aim to target bacteria that are able to increase biomass yield under the high light and temperature stress conditions that are found in desert environments such as Arizona, where plenty of sunlight and useable land exist and could potentially support future algal biofuel production facilities.


 
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