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 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.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 18, 2019, Assistant Professor Dr. Vatsan Raman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced a new biosensor that is capable of reporting on a microbe’s biofuel production capacity from within the cell. An expensive process, “in search of the best biofuel-producing microbes, scientists may need to make millions of genetic variants” to find the right one. This new biosensor developed by Dr. Raman and his team, however, greatly facilitates the aforementioned process by triggering green fluorescence in cells that are ideal to make biofuel-type molecules. In addition to its new function, the scientific team states that the biosensor has a variety of other potential applications in the field of biochemistry. The full study can be accessed here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In January 2019, scientists at the nova-Institut GmbH, in Hurth, Germany, published a study on the sustainability of first and second generation sugars as a resource for the biobased chemical industry. The study, which includes a comprehensive sustainability assessment, “shows that first generation sugars are as advantageous as second generation sugars for a feasible and sustainable resource strategy of Europe’s bio-based chemical industry.” Despite the negative connotation of first generation feedstocks portrayed in public discussions, the study results indicate that these public concerns are not in any manner based on scientific evidence. Carried out in a context of shifting sugar markets and feedstock sustainability for biobased products and chemicals, the study analyzes 12 different sustainability criteria, concluding that all of the researched feedstocks of sugars offer significant strengths and weaknesses for a feasible climate change strategy in the European Union (EU).


 
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