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 August 30, 2018, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (Fraunhofer IGB) published an article announcing the latest advances in using 3-carene as a building block to produce biobased plastics. The aforementioned substance, 3-carene, “is a component of turpentine oil, a waste stream of the production of cellulose from wood.” This substance can be found in pine, larch, or spruce and is usually a byproduct that ends up being incinerated. The research project’s name -- “TerPa – Terpenes as building blocks for biobased polyamides” -- reflects the general premise of the technique used in transforming 3-carene into polyamides, which are used as alternatives to glass/metal and resistant to various chemicals and solvents. Researchers at Fraunhofer IGB confirm that they have optimized the synthesis of lactam -- a key component in building polyamides -- in large scale through a single reactor that requires less energy input. The resulting biobased polyamides are amorphous and resistant to high temperatures, which are ideal in the production of plastics.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 24, 2018, researchers from the University of Kent, UK, published a study on a new technique developed to use bacteria as cell factories to produce biofuels. Working in partnership with scientists from University College London, the University of Bristol, and Queen Mary University of London, Matthew J. Lee et al., uncovered a biotechnical approach to redesign bacterial structures called organelles. The latter, also known as bacterial microcompartments (BMC), carries out metabolic pathways through chemical reactions in the cell. Although these reactions are difficult to control, the University of Kent researchers discovered how to target new metabolic pathways to the BMCs. This technique opens the possibility of using BMCs in a wide variety of applications, which include the generation of biofuels and vaccines through synthetic biology.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In a research study conducted at the University of Nottingham School of Biosciences, a team of scientists has uncovered how to refine seawater to produce bioethanol. When fermented, marine yeast of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae AZ65 strain and yeast extract peptone dextrose (YPD) aid in the production of biofuels. Not only is this discovery key in the development of renewable energy sources, but it also reduces the water footprint of ethanol. Through the use of seawater, the traditional biorefinery methods that rely on agriculture and freshwater become obsolete and limit further depletion of the existing freshwater supplies. Additionally, this new method for biofuel production creates greater opportunities for individual countries to become more sustainable as they switch into biofuel production.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

At Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, Dominik Kopp, a Ph.D. student, has developed a method for turning coffee waste into biodegradable plastic coffee cups. Because of its properties, sugars are an efficient source that is often converted into biobased chemicals. According to this study, coffee grounds consist of 50 percent sugars that can be converted into lactic acid. Once this is done, lactic acid can be used to produce biodegradable plastics. “You could use such plastics to make anything from plastic coffee cups to yoghurt containers to compost bags to sutures in medicine,” Kopp highlights.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Researchers from the University of British Columbia, in Canada, have discovered a new technique that can be used to transform “fatbergs” into green fuel. What scientists now refer to as “fatbergs” consist of oils and greases that cause blockages in the sewer systems accumulating disposed solids. These Canadian scientists revealed a new method in which “fatbergs” can be recycled into green fuel within the sewer system through a microwave-enhanced advanced oxidation process using hydrogen peroxide and bacteria. The University of British Columbia team is now conducting pilot tests within sewage treatment plants and plans to have a full-scale system within the next two years.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 17, 2018, researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its progress in accelerating the process of biofuel-making. Through the use of biotechnology, their research demonstrates that an enzyme, glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) from the red algae Cyanidioschyzon merolae, can contribute to the biofuel production process. Algae is often used to produce biofuels because it contains high amounts of triacyglycerols (TAG) under certain conditions, which can be converted into biodiesel. Using Cyanidioschyzon merolae as a control strain, researchers at Tokyo Tech discovered that the reactions catalyzed by GPAT presence in this single-celled red algae “is a rate-limiting step for TAG synthesis […] and would be a potential target for improvement of TAG productivity in microalgae,” accelerating biofuel production.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Researchers in Lithuania and Egypt have discovered how to use N, N-dimethylcyclohexylamine (DMCHA) to break down multilayer flexible packaging (MFP) that pose a threat to the environment. MFP is used in making blister pill packages, candy wrappers, chip packets, and related products, and can contain aluminum, among other toxic substances, which when leaked or incinerated is hazardous to the environment. Although some practices exist to separate the multilayered packaging through recycling technologies, the European Union (EU), for example, limits practices based on energy consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, recycling rate, and sustainability. Combined, these limitations allow for a rate of less than 66 percent of MFPs. This new method, however, allows for recycling rates above 99 percent.

The technology developed separates each layer from one another by using DMCHA and other switchable hydrophilicity solvents (SHS) in an ultrasonic treatment to accelerate the process. Once separation of the layers has occurred, the dissolved plastic materials can be recovered without heating, avoiding CO2 production. For further details on the study, click here.


 
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