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 January 27, 2015, BASF left the research and development (R&D) collaboration with Novozymes and Cargill that it had joined in 2012. Novozymes and Cargill have worked to develop a process to produce biobased 3-hydroxypropionic (3-HP) and acrylic acid from renewable materials since 2008. In BASF's absence, the two remaining companies are looking for a third partner for the project. The R&D project has already produced 3-HP in pilot scale and converted 3-HP to glacial acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers. The goal is now to commercialize 3-HP to biobased chemicals in order to bring customers sustainable alternatives to petroleum based chemicals.
On December 4, 2014, the S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will provide up to $7 million for two bioenergy projects that aim to reduce the cost of delivering biomass feedstocks to biorefineries. The College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York administers one of the projects and focuses on reducing the cost of woody crops while improving harvest and preprocessing operations to meet biorefinery specifications. The second project, out of the University of Tennessee, will develop a biomass processing depot that blends multiple biomass sources in order to reduce variation in biomass used by biorefineries. This study could lead to increased feedstock availability due to blending of the different biomass sources.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) supports researchers and companies working on large-scale multidisciplinary research projects in areas of importance to Canadians. As part of this program, NSERC is providing the University of Toronto with $5 million to help launch the Industrial Biocatalysis Network, which will research novel uses of enzymes to produce chemicals, plastics, and other products. This program will be run in collaboration with Concordia University and the University of British Columbia and will support the growth of the biobased chemical and materials sector in Canada.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Rosalind Franklin Society will present the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology to Dr. Debbie Yaver at the 2014 BIO Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy's "Women in Biotechnology Reception," sponsored by BRAG. Dr. Yaver has studied the role of the vacuolar ATPase in protein sorting, as well as gene expression technology in bacterial and fungal systems. She is now researching engineering microbial strains to produce enzymes, proteins, and molecules, while also working with genomics and bioinformatics.
On October 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released "Why Biobased?," a report that comprehensively synthesizes findings from the existing government, academia, and non-governmental organizations on bioeconomy opportunities. The report is a precursor for another study to be issued in the near future by the USDA BioPreferred program on the economic impacts of the biobased products industry.
Researchers from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York worked with colleagues in France to discover variant straw plants whose cell walls are more easily broken down to make biofuels. Straw is an ideal plant to be used as biomass as it does not have food uses and contains a high number of polysaccharides that can be fermented into ethanol. Previously, straw has not been commercially viable as a biofuel feedstock as the cost of breaking down the straw to produce sugars is too high. This research identified 12 straw variants that are easier to digest without negatively affecting the strength of the plant. These findings could lead the way to viable uses for straw in biofuel production in the future. More information is available online.
National Academies Holds Public Meeting On Genetically Engineered Crops -- Webinar To Be Held October 1, 2014
The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies hosted the first public meeting for the Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects on September 15-17, 2014. This public meeting was the first of a series of events that are part of NRC's ongoing study to determine the benefits and risks of genetically engineered crops. A webinar related to this study has been scheduled for October 1, 2014, and more information is available online. A transcript of the public meeting held September 15-17, 2014, is available online.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a computational platform known as Systems Biology Knowledgebase, or KBase, designed to help the biological community analyze, store, and share data. The project is led by scientists at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne, Brookhaven, and Oak Ridge national laboratories. KBase compiles information on plants and microbes, and the interactions among them with the objective of improving the environment and energy production. KBase can be accessed at http://kbase.us/. More information on KBase and its objectives can be found online.