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 Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 28, 2019, DOE announced that scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been working on molecular tools that reside naturally within microbial cells.  Microbes typically use these tools to carry out their metabolism and other life-sustaining processes; LANL researchers, however, have been using the tools to produce fuel precursors and bioproduct building blocks.  With the addition of a biosensor in the microbes, light allows the scientists to learn how efficiently the product is being made and thus enabling more efficient quality control to increase overall yield.  This technology is called LANL’s Smart Microbial Cell Technology and consists of a high throughput screening for enzyme discovery, design, and evolution.  It allows LANL to engineer custom biosensors that detect intracellular concentrations of a specific precursor.  This biosensor technology can, thus, be adapted to a single enzyme, pathway, or even global optimization of an industrial strain.  The work is being led by Taraka Dale, Remash Jha, and, Niju Narayanan at LANL, under the Agile BioFoundry multinational laboratory effort to expedite biomanufacturing processes.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 21, 2019, scientists Abdon Pena-Francesh and Melik C. Demirel, at Pennsylvania State University, published an article on the use of squid teeth tandem repeat proteins that can be functionally used for biodegradable fibers and films.  The flexible and tough material results from a protein present in the squid teeth, which can be grown biosynthetically by E. coli bacteria.  This biosynthetic expression of squid teeth proteins presents a number of advantages over direct extraction from the natural source.  It is a sustainable, controllable, and industrially scalable manner of producing these biobased fibers and films.  Currently labeled as “smart textiles,” these fibers and films are capable of autonomous self-healing.  Because of their biocompatibility and self-healing properties, the squid teeth films are applicable not only to clothing textiles, but also in biomedical implants.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 14, 2019, scientists in China published an article revealing a new methodology developed to safely transform methanol into ethanol.  Given methanol’s toxicity, this recently uncovered method allows for a more secure, user-friendly, sustainable technology that can be more broadly applied.  The scientific article reports a photo-driven one-step conversion of methanol to ethanol at ambient temperature.  A relatively simple process, the methodology used can be broadly applied and enables a green and novel method for generating building blocks in synthetic chemistry.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 13, 2019, the University of Manchester was awarded £10 million by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), an organization sponsored by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to foster research and innovation. These funds are to be used in the launching of a country-wide biomanufacturing research hub to lead the way in new medicines and sustainable energy solutions. To be led by Professor Niguel Scrutton, the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub (FBRH) will focus on the development of biotechnologies in three sectors:  pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and engineering materials. Professor Scrutton stated: “With the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), the University already has one of Europe’s leading industry-interfaced institutes, with world-leading capabilities in bio-based chemicals synthesis and manufacture. Now, with the addition of the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub, it will take it to an even higher level.” Part of a £30 million government investment into the UK’s research and manufacturing sector, the funding comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). FBRH intends to bring together 67 partners from industry, public sector, and universities to revolutionize industrial biotechnology.


 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In January 2019, scientists at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, published a study on the application of enzymatic polymerization techniques in the preparation of sustainable furan-based copolyesters. With increased content of aromatic units, two different synthetic approaches are introduced in the article. Financially supported by the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education, the study provides the necessary background to design sustainable, high-performance polymers that can provide an alternative to plastics made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET, which is a petroleum-based material used in plastics, is able to keep the fizz in drink bottles because of its barrier properties. The new furan-based copolyesters have been discovered to have the same barrier-like properties, providing an opportunity for the conversion of renewable sources into polymeric materials.


 
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