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 2, 2018, Midwest AgEnergy announced that the North Dakota Industrial Commission, a division of North Dakota’s State Department of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, had awarded it a $83,810 grant to research using North Dakota barley to produce ethanol with a protein concentrate byproduct for use in aquaculture.  This would be the first ethanol produced North Dakota from a feedstock other than corn, and would include an expansion of the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy (DSA) ethanol plant.  "We're looking to move ahead with a more formal study on a barley protein concentrate project," stated Jeff Zueger, CEO of Midwest AgEnergy, the parent company of DSA.  "If built, it would be a co-located process at DSA that would dehull and mill barley to produce high protein feed and a feedstock for the ethanol process."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 17, 2018, it was announced that Japan’s new biofuel policy will allow imports of ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) made from U.S. corn-based ethanol.  Japan has updated its sustainability policy to tighten the carbon intensity reduction requirements of ethanol that is used to make ETBE from a 50 percent reduction to a 55 percent reduction.  Originally, the policy only allowed sugarcane-based ethanol for import and production of ETBE, but the sugarcane-produced ethanol was not able to meet the 55 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction standard.  The new regulations will allow U.S. corn-based ethanol to meet up to 44 percent of the total estimated annual demand of 217 million gallons used to make ETBE, or as much as 95.5 million gallons of ethanol annually.
 
“The U.S. Grains Council is pleased by this decision and that Japan recognizes these improved benefits of U.S. product. We continue to work around the world, sharing the benefits of U.S. ethanol with other countries that are serious about reducing their GHG emissions,” stated Tom Sleight, President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Grains Council, which has an office in Japan working closely with the Japanese government and industry.  “From this decision, it is unequivocal that continued improvements in carbon intensity reductions are critical to gain and maintain market access for U.S. ethanol.”


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On February 20, 2018, the European Commission (EC) issued a notice of initiation of an expiry review of antidumping (AD) measures applicable to imports of U.S. bioethanol.  The AD duty that has been in place since 2013 was set to expire on February 23, 2018.  The European Renewable Ethanol Association (e-PURE) petitioned the EC on behalf of producers representing more than 25 percent of the total European Union (EU) bioethanol production to review the AD measures due to the likely recurrence of injury to the EU industry.  E-Pure alleged that the removal of injury was the result of the existence of the AD measures and that an increase of imports at dumped prices from the U.S. would likely lead to a recurrence of injury to the EU industry should the measures be allowed to lapse.  Following its determination that sufficient evidence exists to justify an expiry review, the EC will investigate whether the removal of the AD measures will likely lead to a continuation or recurrence of dumping of U.S. bioethanol.  The investigation will conclude within 15 months.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On February 16, 2018, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that a consortium of companies signed a project development agreement to develop a waste-to-chemistry facility in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  The facility will convert non-recyclable mixed waste, including plastics, into syngas and then into clean methanol for use in the chemical industry and for the transportation sector.  An estimated 360,000 tons of waste will be converted into 220,000 tons of clean methanol.  The agreement covers the initial investment of nine million euros for the detailed engineering, setup of a dedicated joint venture, and completion of the permitting process.  The final investment decision for the estimated 200 million euro project is expected to be made in 2018.  According to Marco Waas, Research, Development, Innovation (RD&I) and Technology Director at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, “the agreement comes at a very appropriate time given the current challenges in plastics recycling in Europe.  We can convert non-recyclable waste, into methanol, an essential raw material for many everyday products, including sustainable transportation fuel.  Not only can this be used in the existing supply chains and replace fossil sources, but it also avoids CO2 emissions otherwise produced by burning waste.”  The consortium responsible for the project consists of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Air Liquide, and Enerkem.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On January 23, 2018, DOE announced that researchers at PNNL have developed a catalyst capable of converting ethanol directly into butadiene.  Butadiene is the building block for nearly every major synthetic plastic or rubber in the U.S, including tires, fuel hoses, and children’s toys.  The project, which is sponsored by BETO, aimed to generate butadiene from renewable sources by developing a new catalyst that can convert ethanol into butadiene.  The current ethanol-to-butadiene catalysts required pure ethanol, free of water, to be passed through multiple times to achieve a 70 percent yield.  The team of PNNL researchers has developed a silver nitrate powder and zirconyl nitrate-based catalyst capable of converting 70 percent of aqueous ethanol to butadiene in a single pass under industrially-relevant conditions.  According to Vanessa Dagle, it is the most active ethanol-to-butadiene catalyst reported to date and introduces the possibility of renewable ethanol as a source of butadiene in addition to petroleum.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

According to Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, Brazil is considering lifting the 20 percent tariff on ethanol imports from the U.S..  Demand for ethanol in Brazil has increased due to record-high gasoline prices.  As indicated in the BRAG blog post Grain, Ethanol Industry Send Letter To U.S. Trade Representative On Brazil Ethanol Tariff, U.S. ethanol producers would welcome the removal of the tariff and renewed access to Brazil, which is the largest destination for U.S. biofuel exports.  Minister Maggi indicated that the decision to remove the tariff would depend on the U.S. lifting the ban on fresh beef exports from Brazil.  In 2017, the U.S. banned fresh beef from Brazil following a food safety scandal and Brazil imposed a tax on ethanol from the U.S. following an increase in imports.  While speaking to reporters on January 16, 2018, Minister Maggi stated that “[t]here is, on the part of the United States, a big demand to withdraw [the ethanol tariff] and we also have this problem with beef. . . . Obviously one thing influences and contaminates the other.”  According to Minister Maggi, Brazil has addressed all U.S. requirements regarding the safety of its fresh beef and is awaiting the U.S.’s decision.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On November 29, 2017, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (Ministry) issued proposed amendments to the Ethanol in Gasoline regulation (O. Reg. 535/05) and the Greener Diesel -- Renewable Fuel Content Requirements for Petroleum Diesel Fuel (O. Reg. 97/14) under the Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.E.19.  Among the proposed changes is an increase from a 5 percent ethanol blending mandate to 10 percent starting in 2020; a requirement that ethanol sold for compliance to be 35 percent lower in greenhouse gases (GHG) than gasoline; and the application of existing incentives to a wider range of advanced biofuels.  According to the Ministry, the proposed amendments are intended to work with the expected federal Clean Fuels Standard (CFS), ensuring GHG reductions take place in Ontario and Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan goals are supported.  The Ministry stated that it is exploring options to support biofuel production and innovation through a Blenders Support Program (BSP) as well.


 

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 14, 2017, Flint Hills Resources, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that construction is underway to install a new, bolt-on technology, known as Maximized Stillage Co-Products™ (MSC), at its ethanol plant in Fairmont, Nebraska.  The MSC technology will be used to convert a portion of the distiller grains, a coproduct of ethanol manufacturing, to a high protein animal and fish feed ingredient, known as NexPro™.  NexPro will be a combination of corn gluten (protein) and spent yeast with close to 50 percent protein and an improved amino acid profile, compared to traditional corn gluten meal.
 
The $50 million project, which involves the addition of a new building and two protein dryers, is expected to last 12 months.  The patented MSC technology was developed by Fluid Quip Process Technologies (FQPT) exclusively for dry mill ethanol plants to separate protein from the solids leftover after ethanol distillation.  Once isolated, the protein is dried into a high-quality meal.


 
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