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 March 29, 2017, the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) released a statement claiming that the Coordinating Research Council’s (CRC) study on fuel emissions was biased and flawed.  According to UAI, the match blending of test fuels in the study fails to recognize the performance of ethanol in real world fuels, including improving fuel quality and reducing toxic tailpipe emissions.  UAI stated that performing match blending in a lab using a custom test fuel rather than real world fuel discredits the study, and the inaccurate data would likely lead EPA to continue to limit the use of higher ethanol blends.  To encourage the development of more accurate information, UAI is working on a guidance document to assist researchers to better understand the changes in fuel properties when evaluating ethanol and emissions to ensure that lab test fuels match the fuels in use.


 

 

On March 14, 2017, researchers from the Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory (CTBE) published a study focused on quantifying the economic and environmental impacts of second generation biofuels, based on current and future scenarios of sugarcane biorefineries that include consideration of improvements to the industrial process and biomass production systems.  Although costs were determined to be higher in the short term, the study demonstrates that second generation ethanol production is more competitive than first generation ethanol in the long run, and that it reduces climate change impacts by more than 80 percent compared to gasoline.  According to the researchers, the results should stimulate incentives and funding programs that support the production and consumption of second generation ethanol. 


 
On February 21, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the launch of its Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium (ChemCatBio), a research and development consortium focused on overcoming catalysis challenges for biomass conversion processes.  The consortium, which consists of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and five other DOE national laboratories, aims to accelerate the development of catalysts and related technologies to bring new catalytic materials to commercial bioenergy applications at least two times faster and at half the cost.  The unique properties of biomass, such as high oxygen content, high moisture content, and high acidity, make developing catalysts for bioenergy applications a challenge.  Through computational modeling, and materials synthesis and characterization capabilities, researchers involved with the consortium have already designed new multi-functional catalysts that enable carbon-efficient conversion and reduce costs by more than $0.5/gallon.

 

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.

 
■  Washington University in St. Louis, “WashU Engineer to Design Catalyst for Wasted Plant Material” 
 
■  U.S. Air Force, “Langley 1 of 4 Bases to Test Bio-Based Grease” 
 
■  Times of India, “Fuel from Water Hyacinth? IIT-Kharagpur Shows the Way” 
 
■  Economic Times, “US Biofuels Lobbying Group Courts Its Rival Oil Companies to Combat Electric Car Threat

 

On February 4, 2017, the Canadian Department of the Environment and the Department of Health published in the Canada Gazette the draft screening assessment of the commercially relevant fungus, Trichoderma reesei, stating that the organism is nontoxic and does not require regulatory action under Section 77 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Following a screening assessment, Trichoderma reesei , which is used to convert biomass to biofuels and sugars and to produce food and health products, was found to not meet the criteria set out in CEPA Section 64 since the amount entering the environment does not pose a risk to human health.  Options are being considered, however, for follow-up activities to track changes in the commercial use of and exposure to Trichoderma reesei . Comments on the draft assessment and the related scientific considerations are due by April 5, 2017.


 
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