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 July 24, 2018, a research team at the North Carolina State University announced that biobased glucaric-acid or lignin additives can increase the robustness of polyvinyl alcohol fibers, which can be used in biofriendly products including polymers, detergents, paints, and diapers.  The team plans to continue its R&D as a movement towards greener alternatives to support industries using additives with known varying levels of toxicity.  This discovery could play a large role in processing plastics for safe contact with food, people, and the environment.  In 2004, DOE listed glucaric-acid as one of the top 12 sugar-derived chemicals with the potential to be economic drivers for a biorefinery.  Lignin is low in cost and also a waste by-product of the pulp and paper industries, which can also make commercial scale production feasible.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 21, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that it will fund 87 new projects across 34 states, totaling nearly $13 million in funding.  This funding is part of the 219 grants totaling $34 million awarded to 183 small businesses in 41 states through the DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Nine EERE technology offices are funding ten Phase I topic areas (Advanced Manufacturing I & II, Bioenergy, Buildings, Fuel Cells, Geothermal. Solar, Vehicles, Water, and Wind) across 29 subtopics.  The announcement states that DOE technology offices “award Phase I grants to small businesses that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research,” most Phase I awards “are for $150,000 for less than one year,” and, if completed successfully, “Phase I projects are eligible for … Phase II funding awards [that] provide up to $1 million or up to $1.5 million, depending on the technology, and an award known as a sequential Phase II award can provide up to an additional $1 million.”  

The full list of EERE-funded projects, that includes 13 bioenergy projects, is available online.  The bioenergy companies receiving funding are:  Emergy LLC; Media and Process Technology Inc.; SarTec Corporation; TDA Research, Inc.; Bio-Missions LLC; Faraday Technology, Inc.;  Industrial Microbes, Inc.; Lygos; Global Algae Innovations, Inc. (three projects); MicroBio Engineering; and Molecule Works Inc.

 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 4, 2018, Unilver announced a partnership with Ioniqa and Indorama Ventures to pioneer a technology that converts Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) waste back into transparent virgin grade material for use in food packaging.  This technology, developed by Ioniqa, aims to increase the percentage of PET that is recycled by making it possible to convert all PET waste, including colored packs, back into PET after separating out color and other contaminates. Unilever’s partnership is testing the feasibility of this technology at an industrial scale, with the goal of making the PET stream fully circular.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 17, 2018, the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) announced that ten startup companies had won the opportunity to pitch their technologies to major companies at the GC3’s 3rd Annual Green & Bio-Based Chemistry Technology Showcase & Networking Event. The Technology Showcase will be held on May 8, 2018, during the GC3 Annual Innovators Roundtable, with participation from 16 large companies, including Apple, BASF, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co., L’Oréal, and Procter & Gamble. The chosen startups are:

Monica Becker, Co-Director of the GC3 and Collaborative Innovation Platform Lead, said of the Showcase “these startups will begin discussions leading to joint development agreements, licensing, and investments with companies that are seeking new chemical technologies. . . . Our goal is to get these technologies to market and scale to contribute to safer and more sustainable products and operations.” A wide variety of processes are covered by these startups, including technology that produces surfactants without using petroleum, palm oil, or traditional chemical processes, such as ethoxylation or chlorination, and a technology that provides a new, green platform chemistry for cleaning solvents, adhesives, plasticizers, and paint coalescers.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced that by studying and comparing the cellulose-degrading enzymes of two fungi, NREL researchers have pinpointed regions on these enzymes that can be targeted via genetic engineering to help break down cellulose faster.  The article published in Nature Communications, “Engineering enhanced cellobiohydrolase activity,” describes NREL’s long-running study of the fungal cellobiohydrolases (CBH) -- enzymes that use hydrolysis as their main chemistry to degrade cellulose -- Trichoderma reesei (TrCel7A) and Penicillium funiculosum (PfCel7A).  The announcement states that in both nature and industrial processes, enzymes from this family are among the most significant enzymes for breaking down cellulose; a “projected 2,000-ton-per-day cellulosic ethanol plant could potentially use up to 5,000 tons of enzyme per year, and half of that enzyme cocktail could be from this enzyme family.”


 
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