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 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 April 24, 2017, Bob Dineen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting that the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) rulemaking remain on schedule and maintain the conventional renewable fuel requirement at the statutory level of 15 billion gallons.  According to the letter, regulatory certainty and sufficient lead time for planning are required to allow regulated parties to adapt and comply with the RFS. 
 
The letter states that ethanol producers are set to produce a record supply of 16 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuel in 2017, which is well above the 15-billion-gallon conventional renewable fuel RVO, and refiners and blenders have increased the inclusion of ethanol in U.S. gasoline.  Additionally, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) demonstrates that, on average, the ethanol content of gasoline consumed in the U.S. in 2016 was above the purported “blend wall.”  Dinneen urged Pruitt to ensure a timely RVO rulemaking process to allow the evolution of the marketplace to continue.

Tags: RFA, EPA, RVO, Biofuels

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 21, 2017, AkzoNobel announced the 20 finalists for its Imagine Chemistry initiative.  The initiative, which was launched earlier this year as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge,” aims to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and uncover sustainable opportunities for the Company's Specialty Chemicals business.  Of the 20 projects selected, four focus on cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics, three focus on biobased and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners, and two focus on biobased sources of ethylene and ethylene oxides.  All finalists will participate in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s research facility to further develop their business ideas and concepts.  A brief description of each project is available on AkzoNobel’s website.


 

 

On February 22, 2016, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) published the results of a study on the impact of the ethanol industry on the U.S. economy.  The study, which was commissioned by ABF Economics, found that the U.S. ethanol industry contributed over $42 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supported 340,000 jobs in 2016.  Additionally, the report states that the ethanol industry provided significant contributions in terms of displacing imported crude oil and petroleum products, and generating tax revenue. 

According to the report, the U.S. produced 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, which resulted in:

■  Nearly $14.5 billion to the U.S. economy from manufacturing;
 
■   More than $22.5 billion in income for American households;
 
■  An estimated $4.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $3.6 billion in revenue to state and local governments; and
 
■  The displacement of 510 million barrels of imported oil.

 
On February 21, 2017, President Trump sent a letter to the attendees of the National Ethanol Conference to reiterate his commitment to ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The letter states that Trump and his Administration value the importance of renewable fuels to the nation’s energy strategy and economy.  In the letter, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to working with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and others to reform regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit.
Tags: RFS, RFA, Trump

 

On February 7, 2017, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, and the U.S. Grains Council sent a joint letter to President Donald Trump to request the Administration’s assistance in addressing China’s recent implementation of protectionist trade barriers, which are shutting out U.S. exports of ethanol and distillers dried grains.  The letter states that China’s actions have significantly injured U.S. ethanol producers and farmers, and undermined the substantial investments made to develop a cooperative and mutually beneficial trade relationship with the country.  In 2015, China imported 6.5 million metric tons of U.S. distillers dried grains, and began importing U.S. ethanol as part of an effort to increase the use of cleaner-burning renewable fuels and reduce smog formation.  By the end of 2016, China had become the U.S. ethanol industry’s third-largest export market.  In September 2016, after a nine month investigation regarding alleged dumping and injury to domestic industries, China imposed a preliminary antidumping duty of 33.8 percent against U.S. distillers dried grains, as well as a countervailing duty of ten to 10.7 percent -- despite the fact that the investigation did not find any evidence of dumping or injury to domestic industries.  The letter states the details of this investigation and the U.S. industries’ cooperation throughout the investigation, and requests that the incoming U.S. Trade Representative place the Chinese trade barriers near the top of the China trade agenda.


 

On January 13, 2017, the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced the intent to issue a request for applications (RFA) titled “Fiscal Year 17 Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI).”  Projects funded through BRDI must address one of the foll owing topic areas:
 



 
Feedstocks development :  Research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) focused on feedstocks and feedstock logistics as it relates to the production of raw materials for conversion to biofuels and biobased products;
 



 
Biofuels and biobased products development :  RD&D focused on the development of cost-effective, innovative technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products, and product diversification to increase the feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery; and
 

 
Biofuels development analysis :  Optimization of performance and quantification of the project’s impact on sustainability using systems evaluation methods.
 
The full RFA is expected to be posted on the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Exchange in February 2017, with the full notice of intent currently available.

 

 
Aimplas,Improved Bioplastics for Sustainable Food Packages
 

 
European Bioplastics, “‘Rethinking Plastics’ -- Insights into the Bioplastic Materials of the Future
 

 
Renewable Fuels Association, “RFA Welcomes New Member Valero Renewable Fuels Company LLC
 

 
California Institute of Technology, “Bringing Silicon to Life
 

 
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Food Scientist Aiding Fuel Ethanol with New Engineered Bacteria
 

 
Business Korea, “Korean Scientists Develop World’s First Eco-friendly Algae Bioplastics Mfg Technology
 

 
European Bioplastics, “Global Bioplastics Production Capacities Continue to Grow Despite Low Oil Price
 
Fortress Paper, "Fortress Paper Announces Hemicellulose Separation Project at Its Dissolving Pulp Mill

 

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).


 
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