The 12th Annual World Congress On Industrial Biotechnology was held by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) on July 19-22, 2015, in Montréal. Lynn L. Bergeson offered opening remarks at the Women in Industrial Biotechnology Reception, sponsored by BRAG, and spoke on the importance of continuing to fight for gender equality for women working in science and other fields. Ms. Bergeson also opened the Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Materials track, in which Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. presented "TSCA and the Regulation of Biofuels" and "Leveraging 'Green' for Visibility."
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, was presented the Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology at the BIO World Congress. The award celebrates a pioneering woman in the industrial biotechnology sector who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the biobased economy and biotech innovation in honor of Rosalind Franklin. Over 15 female leaders were nominated for the award, and Dr. Holmgren was selected as a result of her work as CEO of LanzaTech, a company that is developing the world's first alternative jet fuel from industrial waste gases using intermediates derived through industrial biotechnology. LanzaTech also won the 2015 Greener Synthetic Pathways Award as part of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge for the novel use of waste gas to produce fuel. Dr. Holmgren's work in the advancement of industrial biotechnology was determined to embody the spirit of Rosalind Franklin and her pioneering role in the biotechnology field.
On July 13, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) and honored them at a ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The PGCCAs were created in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® and other members of the chemical community to promote the environmental and economic benefits of green chemistry. The six different categories for the 2015 PGCCAs are: Greener Synthetic Pathways, Greener Reaction Conditions, The DESIGN OF Greener Chemicals, Small Business, Academic, and Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change.
The winners of the 2015 PGCCAs include Algenol, for the development of algae to produce fuels; Hybrid Coating Technologies/Nanotech Industries, for the development of a plant-based polyurethane; LanzaTech, for the development of a process that produces fuels and chemicals from waste gas; Soltex, for the development of a reaction process that reduces hazardous chemicals and eliminates water from the production of lubricant and gasoline additives; Renmatix, for the development of a more efficient process to break down plant materials to produce renewable chemicals and fuels; and Professor Eugene Chen from Colorado State University, for developing a waste and metal-free process to turn plant-based materials into fuel and chemicals.
Renmatix seems to have finally cracked the nut that is lignocellulosic biomass. Unlike starch and sugars, plant stalks and wood are quite resistant to rapid biologic action. As a result, most biobased chemical and biofuel producers rely on starch or sugar (e.g., corn starch or sugar cane). The key problem is how to break down quickly lignocellulose into its constituents (lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose) then break the cellulose and hemicellulose into fermentable sugars. A number of biotechnology companies have been developing enzymes or organisms to deconstruct lignocellulose. Renmatix took a much simpler approach: use the unique properties of water at elevated temperatures to deconstruct lignocellulose into fermentable sugars and lignin in a matter of seconds, instead of days, for biochemical processes. The Renmatix reactor system is robust enough to tolerate a wide variety of lignocellulose, including hardwood, agricultural residue, energy crops, and municipal solid waste, making it ideal for deploying wherever lignocellulosic biomass is plentiful and inexpensive. Renmatix and its partners expect that sugars from the Plantrose® process will significantly reduce the cost of producing chemicals via fermentation from non-food biomass.
LanzaTech has a different approach to biotechnology. Instead of using fermentable sugars, LanzaTech employs extremophiles to convert waste flue gases, rich in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, to fuels and chemicals. By employing microbes found on deep sea hydrothermal vents and some creative engineering to ensure robust mixing of the gases and the fermentation broth, LanzaTech can produce ethanol or 2,3-butanediol from the smokestack emissions of industrial facilities. The extremophiles are tolerant of conditions that would be toxic to most industrial fermentation microorganisms, giving LanzaTech a robust and flexible platform from which to produce chemicals and fuels.
Algenol's ethanol producing algae is the first photosynthetic algae technology to win a PGCCA. Algenol has developed a multi-pronged approach to biofuel production by algae. First, the cyanobacteria algae are grown in saltwater -- freshwater is not required -- in specially designed photobioreactors that minimize contamination and water use, and maximize sunlight usage. As the algae grow, they produce ethanol, up to 20 times the per-acre yield of corn-based ethanol. When the algae die, the biomass is converted to a liquid fuel they call "green crude." It is somewhat analogous to the natural process that converts fossil biomass to petroleum, but on a much faster time scale. This use of the waste biomass and very efficient processing contribute to a very low carbon footprint.
Soltex is recognized for its development of an alternative to liquid boron trifluoride (BF3) in the production of "highly reactive" polyisobutylene (HR-PIB). HR-PIB is a key building block for a variety of specialty chemicals, including fuel additives, lubricants, and elastomers and specialty rubbers. The incumbent reaction requires that BF3 be injected continuously into the reactor with high purity isobutylene. Immediately after the reaction, the BF3 must be neutralized and the resulting salt is removed with significant amounts of water. The neutralized BF3 cannot be recycled and is disposed of as waste. Soltex's alternative attaches the BF3 to inorganic beads that are packed in a fixed bed. When the isobutylene passes over the beads, it polymerizes to HR-PIB. Unlike the incumbent process, the Soltex process does not require high purity isobutylene; the HR-PIB comes out in high purity with no residual acid that needs to be neutralized or washed. The process is wastewater-free, saving ten million gallons of water per year for each plant producing polyisobutylene. It also requires much less BF3, in part because the catalyst is more efficient, but also because the catalyst can be reused many times. Less liquid BF3 means fewer opportunities for accidents during manufacturing, transportation, transfer, and use.
Hybrid Coating Technologies and Nanotech Industries have partnered to bring polyurethanes to market without the associated hazards of diisocyanates. These hybrid non-isocyanate polyurethanes (HNIPU) can be used in highly durable polyurethane coatings. Traditional polyurethanes are made by reacting diisocyanates with polyols. Diisocyantes are well known and have well understood hazards, including irritation, lung damage, and occupational asthma (and associated anaphylaxis), and may be carcinogenic. Polyurethanes are so advantageous that they are used despite these hazards, just used with special care to protect workers and end-users. The HNIPU provides the benefits of polyurethanes without the hazards associated with traditional diisocyanates.
Professor Eugene Chen of Colorado State University is recognized for his work on condensation reactions. Condensation reactions are some of the most widely used reactions for chemical production. The catalyst developed by Professor Chen and his group improves the atom efficiency of condensation reactions, that is, it maximizes the atoms that are incorporated into the desired products. High atom efficiency minimizes waste of all kinds simply because more of the starting material becomes product. Professor Chen's group can use a variety of common biobased monomers to make polyester and acrylic polymers. One of the potential polymers is then easily depolymerized back into the starting monomer, bringing significant hope to the circular economy.
Notable in many of these and other recent PGCCAs is that the technologies rely on waste or biomass, rather than non-renewable resources. This reflects the growing success and maturity of companies that rely on renewable materials to make an increasingly diverse set of products.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge has recognized over 100 technologies since its inception in 1996, and each year all of the winning technologies have reduced the use of hazardous chemicals and solvents by over 800 million pounds, saved 21 billion gallons of water, and prevented 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents from being released into the air.
B&C has no involvement in or knowledge of the award selection process.
This year's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge winners will be announced at the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Ceremony, July 13, 2015, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge, administered through a partnership between EPA and the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI), promotes the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using novel green chemistry, and has significantly reduced the hazards associated with designing, manufacturing, and using chemicals.
Since 1996, the 98 winning technologies have made billions of pounds of real, measurable progress, including:
- 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents eliminated each year -- enough to fill almost 3,800 railroad tank cars or a train nearly 47 miles long;
- 21 billion gallons of water saved each year -- the amount used by 820,000 people annually; and
- 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to air eliminated each year -- equal to taking 810,000 automobiles off the road.
Past winners include:
- An environmentally safe alternative to toxic and bioaccumulating ships' hull coatings;
- A water-based, catalytic method used to produce gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel from sugar, starch, or cellulose;
- A process to create tiny micelles, or "nanoreactors," in water, within which a variety of chemical reactions can occur, eliminating the need for organic solvents;
- A polymer that coats titanium dioxide to reduce pigment clumping in paint, so less pigment needs to be used to achieve the same results, lowering carbon footprint, water use, and release of volatile compounds; and
- An enzyme that increases the ability of cellulose fibers to bind together, therefore reducing the paper's weight without sacrificing performance, and making it possible to use higher percentages of recycled pulp.
Detailed descriptions of all the winning technologies, processes, and discoveries are available on EPA's Green Chemistry website.
Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are awarded in six categories:
- Focus Area 1: Greener Synthetic Pathways;
- Focus Area 2: Greener Reaction Conditions;
- Focus Area 3: The Design of Greener Chemicals;
- Small Business (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a business with annual sales of less than $40 million);
- Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher); and
- Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change (for a technology in any of the three focus areas that reduces greenhouse gas emissions).
Information and instructions on nominating a product, process, or technology for an award are available on the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award website.
ACS GCI offers a wealth of resources regarding green chemistry, including the brochure "Design Principles for Sustainable and Green Chemistry and Engineering," the What's Your Green Chemistry? YouTube channel, and Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog.
Journalists interested in covering the safer, cleaner, greener chemistry that is being done by this year's winning chemistry innovators are encouraged to contact the EPA and ACS representatives listed below. There are both compelling business and consumer stories to be told about the companies and scientists who are working to make the products and services traded every day more profitable, sustainable, and renewable.
2015 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award Recipient Announced
On May 8, 2015, BIO announced that Dr. Jennifer Holgrem, CEO of LanzaTech, will receive the 2015 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award, honoring an outstanding woman in the field of industrial biotechnology. Dr. Holgrem has led LanzaTech to develop the first alternative jet fuel made from industrial waste gases and has defined the genetic blueprint of gas fermenting organisms and demonstrated that they can be engineered to produce novel, commercially viable molecules. "To be honored in this way is incredibly humbling for me," stated Dr. Holmgren. "Throughout my career, I've been surrounded by teams, partners and investors who believe we can challenge the status quo and create an energy future that isn't at odds with society or the environment. It is through that shared vision and collective wisdom that we are able to use industrial biotechnology to move forward on a path to the sustainable and equitable energy future our planet deserves."
The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) is proud to once again be sponsoring the Women in Industrial Biotechnology Reception at the 12th Annual BIO World Congress 2015, July 19-22, 2015, in Montreal, Canada. The reception is open to all BIO registrants, but RSVP is required. B&C, BRAG's affiliate, is sponsor of the Renewable Chemical and Biobased Materials track of programs at the conference.
Sofinnova Partners has announced an award for renewable chemistry start-up companies to be presented at the 2015 Bio World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology. The winner will be able to pitch its project at the conference. Companies must have revenue below $5 million and be active in renewable chemistry, industrial biotechnology, or renewable fuels in order to be eligible for the award. There will be an online vote for the top five companies, and an industry jury will select the winning company. Applications may be submitted online through May 30, 2015.
Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc. (Elevance) was named a 2015 New Energy Pioneer award winner by Bloomberg New Energy Finance on April 13, 2015. Elevance CEO K'Lynne Johnson accepted the award on behalf of the company. Bloomberg New Energy Finance recognized Elevance and nine other companies as revolutionizing the energy sector in potential scale, innovation, and momentum. Elevance's recent introductions include the Inherent™ line of renewable building blocks; personal care product lines, Elevance Smooth and Elevance Soft; Elevance Aria™ base stock and Elevance Concert™ additive for the lubricant industry; and Elevance Clean™ ingredient for the cleaning industry.
On March 2, 2015, the winners of the 2015
Bio Business Awards were announced at the World Bio Markets (WBM)
event in Amsterdam. The awards are designed to reward innovation and leadership
in the development of sustainable and renewable fuel and chemical solutions.
Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation was named the WBM Industry Champion 2015,
DuPont's Sorona Fiber won an award for Breakthrough Biobased Technology
Platform, and Elevance Renewable Sciences won the Biobased Product Innovation
of the Year for its Elevance Clean 1200 product. Other awards went to Lanzatech
for Feedstock of the Year, Jennifer Holmgren from Lanzatech for Biobased
Businessperson of the Year, United LAX Biotech Initiative for Excellence in
Advanced Biofuels, and UPM Biofuels for Commercial Scale Plant of the Year.
Nominations for the 2016 WBM Bio Business Awards will open in November 2015.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is now accepting
nominations for the George
Washington Carver Award and the Rosalind
Franklin Award, both recognizing leadership in the field of
industrial biotechnology. Nominations are being accepted through February 26, 2015, and
the recipients will be presented with the awards at the BIO World Congress on
Industrial Biotechnology from July
19-22, 2015, in Montreal. The Biobased and Renewable Products
Advocacy Group (BRAG®) is proud to once again be sponsoring the
Women in Biotechnology Reception at the BIO World Congress. The 2014 winner of
the George Washington Carver Award was Ellen Kullman of DuPont, and the 2014
winner of the Rosalind Franklin Award was Debbie S. Yaver, Ph.D. of Novozymes. Dr.
Yaver recently shared her thoughts on supporting women in chemical fields
on the Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News website.
As a follow-up to last week's item concerning Bergeson &
Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) and the Biobased and Renewable Products
Advocacy Group (BRAG®) sponsorship of the December 7, 2014, Women in
Industrial Biotechnology Networking Reception, we are pleased to share the video of Dr. Debbie Yaver's remarks
when she was awarded the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Rosalind
Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology on December 9, 2014.
Congratulations to Dr. Yaver for this esteemed recognition.
EPA's OCSPP is announcing the first Safer Product Labeling Program
(SPLP) Partner of the Year Awards. The Awards will recognize the leadership
contributions of stakeholders in making safer chemicals and safer products
available to consumers and purchasers.
The application period for the 2015 Awards is now open, and
applications are due to EPA by January
30, 2015. Those interested in applying may choose to submit
under one or more of the following categories: product manufacturers;
purchasers and distributors; retailers; supporters; and innovators. The
awardees will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in late spring of
For more information about the SPLP Partner of the Year Awards and
how to submit applications, please visit the SPLP Partner of the Year Awards