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 Kathleen M. Roberts

On August 29, 2017, the government of the province of Ontario, Canada announced $25.8 million has been allocated to the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) as a part of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.  The funding will be used to support emerging, innovative technologies in areas such as alternative energy generation and conservation, new biofuels or bioproducts, next-generation transportation or novel carbon capture and usage technologies. 
 
Funding is available either from:

  • The Technology Demonstration stream, which aims to support the development and commercialization of innovative low carbon technologies through testing in real-world settings; or
  • The Technology Validation stream, which aims to fund proof-of-concept or prototype projects from eligible Ontario companies or academic organizations to help them get to market faster.
To be eligible for LCIF, projects must be conducted in Ontario and must show significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario.  Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan is key to its achievement of its goal of cutting greenhouse gas pollution to 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 percent below by 2030, and 80 percent below by 2050.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced in the Federal Register that a preliminary determination had been issued in the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.  DOC preliminarily determined that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. The period of investigation for both countries is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016. 
 
Pursuant to Section 703(e)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, DOC preliminarily determined that critical circumstances exist with respect to imports of biodiesel from Indonesia for Musim Mas and Wilmar Trading.  Similarly, DOC preliminary determined that critical circumstances exist with respect to imports of biodiesel from Argentina for LDC Argentina and Vicentin, but do not exist with respect to all other exporters or producers not individually examined.  DOC will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption, and to require a cash deposit equal to the subsidy rates indicated in the respective Federal Register notice.  For Indonesian companies not individually examined, DOC applied an “all-others” subsidy rate, which was calculated by weight averaging the calculated subsidy rates of the two individually examined company respondents. 
 
More information on the methodology and results of DOC’s analysis is available in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, which is a public document on file in the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS).  DOC invites comments on the preliminary determinations from interested stakeholders.  Following DOC’s final determination, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will make its final determination within 45 days.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded researchers from Clemson University a $147,744, two-year grant to evaluate the effectiveness of producing biofuels to mitigate climate change.  The project will analyze how switchgrass fields and loblolly pine forests affect local temperatures through the exchange of water, energy, radiation, and carbon with the atmosphere; and quantify below- and above-ground carbon fluxes in both loblolly pine and switchgrass plantations and assess the greenhouse gas emissions of the full biofuel production chain for each crop.  The goal is to develop a comparative picture of the potential of these feedstocks to reduce carbon emissions when generating electricity by co-firing in a coal power plant, and ultimately to aid the development of effective land-use policies. 


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 15, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) announced in the Federal Register that the preliminary determination in the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia will be postponed.  A request to postpone the determinations was submitted by a petitioner on July 6, 2017, and, pursuant to Section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, ITA determined that there was no compelling reason to deny the request.  The preliminary determination will now be due by October 19, 2017, and the final determination will be due within 75 days of the issuance of the preliminary determination. 
 
ITCA previously postponed the determinations following a May 22, 2017, request from a petitioner, as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post DOC Postpones Preliminary Determinations for Biodiesel AD/CVD Investigation.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 19, 2017, Synthetic Genomics Inc. announced a breakthrough in its collaboration with ExxonMobil involving the modification of an algae strain that more than doubled its oil content to 40 percent without significantly inhibiting the strain’s growth.  Synthetic Genomics researchers identified a genetic switch that could be fine-tuned to regulate the conversion of carbon to oil in the algae species, Nannochloropsis gaditana, and established a proof-of-concept approach for the new process.  The achievement is a key milestone in the partnership that aims to demonstrate that algae can be incredibly productive as a renewable energy source with a corresponding positive contribution to our environment.  Additional research, testing, and analysis is required to ensure the process is commercially viable. 


 

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


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 2, 2017, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the availability of Project Peer Review 2017 presentations.  The biennial event provides an opportunity for external stakeholders to evaluate rigorously the technical approach, progress, relevance, and overall merit of all the projects in the BETO portfolio.  The review was conducted across nine technology areas, including:

  • Feedstock Supply and Logistics;
  • Advanced Algal Systems;
  • Thermochemical Conversion;
  • Biochemical Conversion;
  • Waste to Energy;
  • Analysis and Sustainability;
  • Demonstration and Market Transformation;
  • Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines; and
  • Feedstock-Conversion Interface Consortium.  

The peer reviewers, which consisted of 47 experienced and knowledgeable bioenergy experts from industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, and government, will provide an assessment of the focus and scope of each technology area, as well as recommendations for strategic direction.  The publicly available 2017 Peer Review Final Report will be prepared in time for the Program Management Review on July 13, 2017.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On June 2, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), released a statement in response to the decision by President Trump to withdraw the U.S from the Paris Agreement.  According to Neste, the U.S. withdrawal is “unfortunate” and “a saddening turn for the international battle against climate change.”  The decision, however, will not signal the downfall of the Agreement, which has been ratified by 147 of the 197 countries that signed it.  The statement highlights the fact that no changes have been made to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which has set increasing obligations for renewable fuels for 2017 and 2018, nor to the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard.  Neste aims to continue to make renewable products available to U.S. states, cities, and businesses to support their ambitious targets for reducing emissions.


 
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