By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting a Workshop on Moving Beyond Drop-In Replacements: Performance Advantaged Bio-Based Chemicals on June 1, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. The purpose of the workshop is to solicit stakeholder feedback on what research and development is necessary for writing a functional replacements and novel biobased compounds strategic plan. The discussion, which will be restricted to polymers, small molecules, and other building block chemicals, will center on the following questions:
- Would a strategy document for bio-based novel compounds and functional replacements be useful? What would it look like?
- What is the best strategy for developing a bio-based novel compounds and functional replacements guiding document?
- What are the biggest challenges in identifying novel compounds and functional replacements?
- What are the most critical properties to screen for when developing screening protocols?
- How can BETO best bridge the gap between those producing novel bio-based compounds and those who need novel compounds or replacements for their formulations?
Registration is available online.
By Kathleen M. Roberts
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting an Algae Cultivation for Carbon Capture and Utilization Workshop on May 23-24, 2017, in Orlando, Florida. The event will feature facilitated discussions focused on gathering stakeholder input on innovative technologies and business strategies for growing algae on waste carbon dioxide (CO2) resources. Stakeholders will be encouraged to consider challenges and opportunities related to:
||Sourcing CO2, including quality, quantity, siting, and transport considerations;
||Cultivating algae, including biomass productivity, efficiency in CO2 utilization, and carbon balances in end products; and
||Finding sustainable “win-win” solutions to reducing CO2 emissions while finding cost savings.
Workshop discussion will help inform DOE strategies to realize affordable, scalable, and sustainable production biofuels and bioproducts made from algae. Registration is available online.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On March 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the publication of the report on the current state of alternative aviation fuels that was developed using findings from peer-reviewed studies, scientific working groups, and BETO stakeholder input from the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop in September 2016. The four key topic areas include:
||Economic and technical competitiveness;
||Fuel conversion and scale-up;
||Environmental sustainability and life-cycle benefits; and
||Feedstock and product supply chains.
Information gathered during the workshop, such as best practices to finance production facilities, effectively scale biorefining technologies, optimize production economics, and streamline certification processes, will be used to advance the understanding of technical barriers limiting the competitiveness of aviation biofuels. Many public- and private-sector organizations have committed to adopting biobased aviation fuels because, unlike passenger vehicles, airplanes cannot be fueled with electricity yet. More information on the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop is available in the Biobased and Renewable Product Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “DOE Hosts Alternative Aviation Fuels Workshop, New LUC Emissions Research Discussed
Don't miss the upcoming European Commission (EC) Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP) workshop "From bio-waste to bio-based products: the potential for regional innovation development." This Brussels-based session of the KEP Bioeconomy Showcasing Event will present the EC's biotechnology initiative and policy framework, as well as case studies on regional growth of biobased products. This workshop is scheduled for October 11, 2016, as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities conference. Registration is free and open through September 26, 2016.
On April 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a Save the Date for the upcoming Algal Biology Toolbox Workshop. The workshop is intended to gather experts on algal biology to discuss the current state of algal biological tools, challenges to developing and applying biology tools to improve algae performance, and strategies to work towards commercializing algae biofuels. The workshop will occur on May 24-25, 2016, in San Diego, California. DOE states that registration information and the agenda will be released soon.
The spring 2016 Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) workshop entitled, "Principles and Processes: Algae Culture Maintenance, Production and Downstream Processing" is approaching. The workshop runs May 16-20, 2016, and will be held at the Santa Fe Community College and the Los Alamos National Laboratory's New Mexico Consortium (LANL NMC). The event is limited to 15 people, and will include a tour of the LANL NMC and field training including collecting cultures from ponds and photobioreactors. In addition to these hands-on experiences, there will also be lectures and laboratory training from leading algae experts, biochemists, and engineers.
On February 26, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the upcoming Agile Biomanufacturing Industry Listening Workshop that is being held by nine national laboratories to increase understanding of industry needs around synthetic biology. The national laboratories are working to create an agile biomanufacturing platform using synthetic biology tools to quickly engineer biofuels and biochemical in response to industry demands. A successful platform will help organizations to develop biological processes to create biobased products, while reducing associated risks. The workshop is occurring on March 15, 2016, in Berkeley, California from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Those wishing to attend should register online by March 4, 2016.
On September 30, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a workshop on genetically engineered (GE) algae to give stakeholders an opportunity to hear about EPA's plans for improving its risk assessments of GE algae under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Dr. Jeff Morris, Deputy Director of Programs for the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), welcomed participants and laid out the scope of the meeting: to assist EPA in understanding the questions it needs to ask and answer when it receives a Microbial Commercial Activity Notice (MCAN) for GE algae. Dr. Morris discussed how this workshop will contribute to EPA's broader effort to update the Points to Consider in the Preparation of TSCA Biotechnology Submissions for Microorganisms document that relates to other GE microorganisms, as well as the update to the federal Coordinated Framework on the Regulation of Products of Biotechnology. While updating the framework will assist EPA in handling risk assessments for GE algae, regulation will continue to be risk-based and determined on a case-by-case basis.
Members of EPA's biotech review team discussed aspects of MCAN review and pointed out particular areas where EPA seeks input, in particular:
- Taxonomy of algae;
- Propensity to transfer genetic material to other species;
- Ability to produce toxins or allergenic effects;
- How the growth rate and forms (unicellular or filamentous) might relate to exposure;
- Survivability of GE algae in the wild; and
- Propensity to out-compete wild populations of algae, and organismal control mechanisms.
The panel, as well as stakeholders, commented on how algae are different than traditional industrial microbes in some significant ways:
- The organisms are not as well studied, largely because, unlike bacteria and fungi, they have only recently been used for industrial production.
- Inactivation methods are quite different because of the protective cell walls that algae have, that most microbes lack.
Dr. Morris also made it clear that this meeting is just the beginning of the conversation. EPA continues to seek input from stakeholders on algae, in particular, and other GE organisms as part of EPA's effort to update the regulatory framework for GE organisms. Draft Charge questions are available on the workshop website, speaker presentations can be accessed through the meeting agenda webpage, and the deadline for written comments is October 31, 2015. More information on EPA's development and use of biotechnology is available in B&C's memorandum EPA Posts Information on Biotechnology Algae Project.
The Expert Workshop focusing on technical questions for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) development of a biotechnology algae considerations document is drawing near. The workshop will be open to the public and is scheduled for September 30, 2015, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. More details, including instructions on how to register for the workshop, will be made available in a Federal Register notice. More information regarding the biotechnology algae project is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) memorandum EPA Posts Information on Biotechnology Algae Project.
BETO is hosting a workshop on November 5, 2014, in Arlington, Virginia, to address challenges in converting waste food products to energy. The workshop will gather experts in the field to identify technical barriers to the commercial development of liquid transportation fuels from waste feedstocks, which will ultimately help develop a roadmap that highlights the key pathways and metrics to reaching commercialization. Registration is free, but space is limited. More information is available online.