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 September 19, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 18 projects from the Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program will receive $22 million in funding through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).  The MARINER projects aim to develop tools to address the technological challenges to growing and harvesting macroalgae efficiently and cost-effectively for use as a feedstock for biofuels and other bioproducts.  Such tools would support the goal of the United States becoming a leader in the production of macroalgae to improve U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness.  According to Eric Rohlfing, the ARPA-E Acting Director, “the United States has offshore resources capable of producing enough seaweed to handle as much as 10 percent of our demand for transportation fuel.” 

The cross-disciplinary MARINER projects focus on transformative, systems-level improvements and engineering, including advanced research in farm design and autonomous operation, which draw on fields such as cultivation and harvesting systems, advanced components, computer modeling, aquatic monitoring, and advanced breeding and genetics tools. 
 
The full list of the MARINER projects is available on the ARPA-E website.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On September 20, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that DOE selected eight projects related to the optimization of integrated biorefineries (IBR) to negotiate for up to $15 million in DOE funding.  The projects aim to solve critical research and developmental challenges encountered for the successful scale-up and reliable operations of IBRs, to decrease capital and operating expenses, and to focus on the manufacture of advanced or cellulosic biofuels and higher-value bioproducts. 
           
The eight projects focus on one or more of the following topic areas:

  • Robust, continuous handling of solid materials (dry and wet feedstocks, biosolids, and/or residual solids remaining in the process) and feeding systems to reactors under various operating conditions;
  • High-value products from waste and/or other undervalued streams in an integrated biorefinery;
  • Industrial separations within an integrated biorefinery (no projects have been selected from this topic area); and
  • Analytical modeling of solid materials (dry and wet feedstocks and/or residual solids remaining in the process) and reactor feeding systems.

The project winners include: 

  • Thermochemical Recovery International Inc., which will study and improve feedstock and residual solids handling systems targeted to commercial pyrolysis and gasification reactors;
  • Texas A&M Agrilife Research, which will work on achieving a multi-stream integrated biorefinery (MIBR), where lignin-containing IBR waste will be fractionated to produce lipid for biodiesel, asphalt binder modifier, and quality carbon fiber;
  • White Dog Labs, which will use the residual cellulosic sugars in cellulosic stillage syrup to produce single-cell protein (SCP) for aquaculture feed;
  • South Dakota School of Mines, which will demonstrate the cost-effective production of biocarbon, carbon nanofibers, polylactic acid, and phenol from the waste streams generated from the biochemical platform technology;
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which will leverage and extend state-of-the-art modeling and simulation tools to develop integrated simulations for feed handling and reactor feeding systems;
  • Clemson University, which will develop analytical tools to identify an optimal IBR process design for the reliable, cost-effective, sustainable, and continuous feeding of biomass feedstocks into a reactor;
  • Purdue University, which aims to develop strong, innovative computational and empirical models that rigorously detail the multiphase flow of biomass materials; and
  • Forest Concepts, which proposes to develop robust feedstock handling modeling and simulation tools based on systematic analysis.

According to Secretary Perry, “[t]hese projects have the potential to increase the efficiency of producing biofuels and bioproducts, enabling the United States to better utilize its abundant biomass resources, boost economic development, and advance U.S. competitiveness in the global energy market.”  The funding opportunity is supported jointly by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 2, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that a fourth project under the MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels Funding Opportunity would be awarded up to $1.8 million.  Michigan State University was selected to manage the fourth project, which will work in partnership with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MBI International to optimize a two-stage process for deconstruction of biomass into two clean intermediate streams, specifically sugars for the production of hydrocarbon fuels and lignins for the production of multiple value-added chemicals. 
 
In August 2016, DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) selected three projects for an initial round of funding; the total funding for the four awards is $13.1 million.  All four projects support the development of biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can produce variable amounts of fuels and/or products based on external factors allowing for the conversion of biomass where it is most impactful and a positive return on investment. 


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On July 11, 2017, DOE announced the selection of three projects focused on reducing the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts that will receive up to $8 million in funding.    The projects aim to generate high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms and cultures and biology-focused breakthroughs.  The project winners include:

  • Lumen Bioscience, which will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the agricultural production of algae on otherwise non-productive land in rural eastern Washington State by rapidly engineering strains that grow robustly in seawater, resist contamination and predation, and accumulate substantial amounts of energy-rich components;
  • Global Algae Innovations, which will work in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, University of California at San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the J. Craig Venter Institute to deliver a tool for low cost, rapid analysis of pond microbiota, gather data on the impacts of pond ecology, and develop new cultivation methods that utilize this information to achieve greater algal productivity; and
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, which will work with Sapphire Energy to help the algal research and development community better understand these metrics at commercial scales by evaluating rationally designed pond cultures containing multiple species of algae, as well as beneficial bacteria, to achieve consistent biomass composition and high productivity.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 21, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that 32 small businesses across 18 states will receive a total of $32 million in grants to develop clean energy technologies that have a strong potential for commercialization and job creation.  The funding was provided by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  The 32 projects were selected based on scientific and technical merit, as well as the commercial potential of the project.  Seven of the 32 proposed projects involve technology for bioenergy and biobased production, specifically:

  • Shockkwave, LLC received $1,000,000 to increase production of domestic, low greenhouse gas biofuel by harvesting corn fiber from corn grain to produce cellulosic biofuels;
  • Mainstream Engineering Corporation received $999,993 to improve the oil yield and reduce aqueous byproducts during hydrothermal liquefaction of wet wastes;
  • BioHybrid Solutions LLC received $995,569 to make biodiesel a cost-effective, sustainable fuel by using new polymer-modified enzyme to convert efficiently cheap and renewable feedstocks into an inexpensive, high-quality biodiesel;
  • CF Technologies, Inc. received $999,997 to convert rancid, no-value, environmentally adverse brown grease into a high quality, valued biodiesel fuel;
  • Sironix Renewables received $1,000,000 to implement a new catalyst technology that produces a new class of detergent molecules from renewable sources that are superior and cheaper than current detergents, enabling detergent formulations with higher concentrations, which reduces chemical environmental impact and manufacturing and transportation energy consumption;
  • MOgene Green Chemicals received $1,000,000 to develop a sustainable, biobased biocatalyst to capture methane, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases present in biogas or natural gas sources and convert them into high value products; and
  • NexTech Materials, Ltd. received $1,000,000 to create new catalysts that will allow more efficient generation of fuels from biogas.

More information on the recipients is available at the DOE Office of Science website.


 

On February 22, 2017, the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy announced seven recipients of $5.9 million in funding to develop novel ways to use carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from coal-fired power plants.  The projects will focus on converting captured CO2 to useable products.  Recipients of the funding include:
 

■  The University of Kentucky Research Foundation will receive nearly $1 million to convert CO2 to bioplastics using microalgae.  In addition to developing a strategy to maximize value from the algae biomass, researchers will aim to decrease the cost of algae cultivation;
 
■  Researchers at the University of Delaware will receive $800,000 to develop a two-stage electrolyzer process for the conversion of CO2 to alcohols, such as ethanol and propanol;
 
■  The Gas Technology Institute will receive nearly $799,997 to develop a Direct E-Beam Synthesis process to produce chemicals, such as acetic acid, methanol, and CO, from CO2, and an additional $799,807 to develop a novel catalytic reactor process to convert CO2 into methane for syngas production;
 
■  TDA Research, Inc. will receive nearly $799,985 to develop a sorbent-based, thermo-catalytic process to convert CO2 into syngas; and
 
■  Southern Research will receive $799,442 to develop a process to produce light olefins, such as ethylene and propylene, from coal-fired flue gas using novel nano-engineered catalysts.

 

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)


 

On December 28, 2016, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that six projects had been selected for a funding opportunity of up to $12.9 million titled “Project Definition for Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower.”  The projects, which revolve around technology development plans for the manufacture of advanced or cellulosic biofuels, bioproducts, refinery-compatible intermediates, and biopower in a pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery, will be evaluated in two phases.

DOE will evaluate Phase I projects at the end of two years.  Phase I project evaluations will be based on the design and plan of the facilities, as well as the recipient’s ability to fund the required 50 percent cost share for Phase II.  In 2018, DOE is expected to announce the recipients of up to $15 million and $45 million in Phase II funding for the construction and operation of a pilot- or demonstration-scale facility, respectively.
 
Projects focused on demonstration-scale integrated biorefineries include:
 


 
The development of an integrated process for the production of jet fuel from woody biomass by combining AVAPCO’s biomass-to-ethanol process with Byogy’s alcohol-to-jet process; and  
 

 
The design and operation of an integrated demonstration-scale biorefinery for the production of low-carbon jet and diesel fuels from industrial waste gases.

Projects focused on pilot-scale integrated biorefineries include:
 


 
The design of a pilot-scale algae biofuel facility that utilizes novel technologies to improve productivity of open pond cultivation and generate more energy-efficient algae harvest; and
 

 
The design of a smaller, more cost-effective integrated biorefinery for the production of transportation fuels from woody waste and agricultural feedstocks.
 
Projects focused on pilot-scale waste-to-energy include:
 



 
The design of an advanced pyrolysis integrated biorefinery capable of converting 300 tons per day of biomass from food waste and biosolids into fertilizer and carbon-negative, renewable biopower; and 
 

 
The design of a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery that converts waste treatment and biosolids into biocrude oil, biogas, and fertilizer. 

 

On December 6, 2016, EPA announced its funding of $1.3 million in investments to 13 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects.  All 13 projects are focused on producing innovative and creative solutions to the country’s current environmental issues.  Each company will receive a SBIR Phase I contract for up to $100,000 to develop their green technology.  Companies that successfully complete Phase I can apply for a Phase II contract of up to $300,000 to commercialize their technology for the marketplace.  Two of the 13 projects involve repurposing waste to generate new commercial products.
 
Professional Analytical & Consulting Services, Inc. is producing electrically conductive plastic pellets from scrap automotive tires and waste plastic.  Phase I of the project will focus on evaluating the electrical conductivity of different blends of plastics and tire waste.  A continuation of the project into Phase II would involve the construction of a pilot plant and the initiation of 3D manufacturing of plastic parts.
 
Revolution Research, Inc. is designing a manufacturing process for bio-based ceiling tiles using nanocellulose, a byproduct of the forest industry.  The objective is to manufacture ceiling tiles that are durable, non-hazardous, and compostable, and possess higher insulation properties than currently-available products.  Revolution Research will also develop a process to treat the ceiling tiles using non-hazardous enhancements.

 

Tags: EPA, SBIR, Funding

 

On November 3, 2016, the European Commission announced that 144 new green and low-carbon projects from 23 Member States will be funded by a €222.7 million investment from the European Union (EU) budget, which will be combined with €175.9 from additional investments.  The funding comes from the LIFE programme, the EU’s funding body for the environment and climate action, with the goal of progressing Europe towards a more sustainable future.
 
The selected projects align with the EU’s objective to reduce GHG emissions and transition to a more circular economy.  Examples of 2015 projects include:  

 

Implementation of Biodolomer®, a fossil-free biomaterial, in place of plastic packaging for four commercial reference products;

 

Production of biopolymers for the tanning industry using recycled biomass from the tanning process; and

 

Incorporation of cultivated banana organic waste fibers as an additive to create bioplastic covers to protect banana treats from UV radiation.

 
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