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.

On August 10, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $30 million expansion of the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R). DOE is partnered with the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology (MST), and both departments are committing $1.5 million annually over the next five years to expand research into smart grid and energy storage technology. U.S. and Indian private sectors will match the government commitments, resulting in a total of $30 million in public-private research investment over the next five years. The PACE-R initiative was originally launched in 2009 to support clean energy technology research and deployment. Since PACE-R began, the initiative has expanded to include Research, Deployment, and Access. PACE-R was originally created with three consortia focusing on solar energy, energy efficiency in buildings, and next-generation biofuels. This funding will allow for the creation of a fourth consortium focused on smart grid technology and energy storage.


 

On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Develop Administration (EDA) announced $4.4 million in grants to diversify and grow Maine's economy. This funding is intended to provide immediate assistance to rural communities that have been impacted by recent mill closures, focusing specifically on the forest sector of the economy. Bio-Based Maine, in partnership with the University of Maine, will receive $519,930 of the funding for a $856,549 project to develop a road map to advance biobased manufacturing in Maine. This project, including the cost analysis, technology assessment, and market research, is anticipated to result in one or more mills producing cellulosic sugars, creating at least 195 jobs. EDA announced several other grants from other federal partners to support Maine's economy as well, including a $3.3 million U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) biobased jet fuel grant, and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).


 

On July 25, 2016, the the Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced a $12 million investment in Bioindustrial Innovation Canada. The Centre for the Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovations will be supported through the funding, and will help businesses quickly bring biobased products from final testing stages to the commercial market. This funding will specifically benefit the Sarnia-Lambton region, and create 478 full-time equivalent jobs as well as 250 new industrial collaborations in an effort to transition the region from a petrobased economy to a biobased economy.


 

On July 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a notice in the Federal Register soliciting applications for Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (the Program) funding. 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. There are two application cycles for this notice, with the first application cycle closing on October 3, 2016, at 4:30 pm (EDT), and the second cycle closing on April 3, 2017, at 4:30 pm (EDT).


 

On May 18, 2016, USDA announced $21 million in funding to support the development of regional systems for bioenergy and biobased products. The funding is provided through AFRI's Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts (SBEBP) Challenge Area, an initiative of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and is available to applicants in the following priority areas.

  • Regional Bioenergy Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs) that focus on the production and delivery of regionally-appropriate sustainable biomass feedstocks for bioenergy and bioproducts. While the focus of CAPs will be on feedstocks, competitive proposals must present the feedstock development and production in the context of a comprehensive regional sustainable bioenergy and bioproducts supply chain systems.
     
  • Investing in America's Scientific Corps: Preparing a New Generation of Students, Faculty, and Workforce for Emerging Challenges in Bioenergy, Bioproducts, and the Bioeconomy.

This Request for Applications (RFA) is open to individuals, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, small businesses, and others, with a full list available in Part III A of the current AFRI SBEBP Challenge Area. Proposed budgets under Regional CAP Grants cannot exceed $3 million dollars annually, and project periods should not exceed five years. A letter of intent for the RFA is due by July 14, 2016, by 5:00 p.m. (EDT), with full applications due by September 22, 2016, by 5:00 p.m. (EDT).


 

On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that up to $10 million in funding is being given to six projects that are creating innovative solutions to advance bioenergy development. The work will support the Bioenergy Technologies Office's (BETO) goal of developing non-food biomass competitive biofuels with reduced technical investment risks. The selected projects are:

  • Arizona State University, a project engineering cyanobacteria to produce ethyl laurate;
     
  • Arizona State University, a project developing heat-tolerant mixtrophic algae that can consume both carbon dioxide (CO2) and cellulosic sugars;
     
  • Duke University, a project to reduce construction costs for commercial scale biorefineries by making smaller reactors more productive;
     
  • Lygos Inc., a project to develop microbial catalysts to produce renewable aspartic acid from cellulosic sugars;
     
  • White Dogs Labs, a project to develop metabolic pathways to increase the yield of acetone from microorganisms; and
     
  • LanzaTech Inc., a project to manufacture acetone from biobased syngas.

 

On May 11, 2016, the University of California, Riverside (UCR) provided more information about the project that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is funding with $1.3 million as part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). UCR received $1.3 million in funding to create biofuels and chemicals from waste plant materials. Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) and Chemical and Environmental Engineering Professor Charles Wyman, and CE-CERT Research Engineer and Adjunct Assistant Professor Charles Cai are running the project to convert poplar wood into ethanol and polyurethanes using novel pretreatment and lignin polymer synthesis platforms. The team patented the method, called Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF), as a versatile method to convert raw agricultural waste into renewable fuels and chemicals. "This project takes advantage of the unique ability of our novel CELF technology to effectively fractionate lignin from low-cost non-food sources of cellulosic biomass such as agricultural and forestry residues for conversion into polyurethanes that increase revenues for biorefineries while also enhancing ethanol yields," Wyman said. Eventually, this UCR project aims to increase revenue for bio-refineries while offsetting pretreatment costs to make biomass based fuels and chemicals more economically viable.


 

On May 9, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the recipients of up to $10 million in funding through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). BRDI is a joint program through DOE and USDA that helps develop sustainable sources of biomass and increase the availability of biobased fuels and products. DOE selected two of the grant winners to receive between $1 million and $2 million: the Ohio State University (OSU) project is "Biomass Gasification for Chemicals Production Using Chemical Looping Techniques," and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) project is "Improving Tolerance of Yeast to Lignocellulose-derived Feedstocks and Products."

USDA then selected five grant winners to receive a total of $7.3 million in funding:

  • University of California-Riverside, to convert poplar to ethanol and polyurethane via pretreatment and lignin polymer synthesis;
     
  • University of Montana, to quantify ecological and economic opportunities of various forest types and to quantify benefits of replacing fossil fuel with forest-based bioenergy;
     
  • North Carolina Biotechnology Center, to optimize production of educational resources on biomass sorghum production in the Mid-Atlantic region;
     
  • Dartmouth College, to overcome the lignocellulosic recalcitrance barrier; and
     
  • State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, to provide life cycle understanding for the production of willow and forest biomass to mitigate investment risk.

 

On April 15, 2016, DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a Notice of Intent (NOI) to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled "Project Definition for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower (PD2B3)." The FOA would be managed by the Bioenergy Technologies Office, and will support technology development plans for drop-in hydrocarbon biofuels, bioproducts, or biopower manufacturing. Applicants should address a topic within the following priority areas:

  • Pilot-scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulosic, algal, or biogas feedstocks;
     
  • Demonstration-scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulosic, algal, or biogas feedstocks; and
     
  • Production of biopower, bioproducts, and biofuels from biosolids and other waste streams.

The full FOA is expected to be posted on the EERE Exchange on May 2, 2016, with the full NOI currently available.


 

On March 22, 2016, EPA announced the availability of $7.94 million in federal grants to support pollution prevention (P2) projects during Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. Projects should reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous materials, water, and energy and will support the P2 Program National Emphasis Areas of:

  • Climate Change Mitigation/Prevention of Greenhouse Gas Emissions;
     
  • More Sustainable Food Manufacturing and Processing; or
     
  • State or Community Approaches to Hazardous Materials Source Reduction.

The grants are available to state agencies, colleges, and universities (serving as instrumentalities of the states), federally-recognized tribes, and intertribal consortia. Corporate entities could collaborate with one of these organizations in order to commercialize or expand their business. EPA expects to award up to 40 grant agreements totaling $7.94 million in federal P2 grant funding over both years. Proposals are due by May 9, 2016.


 
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