Biobased and Renewable Products Update

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Biobased and Renewable Products Update

April 5, 2018

EPA

EPA Requests Comment On Registration Of Isobutanol As A Gasoline Additive

On March 29, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a Federal Register notice it is seeking public comment on the use of isobutanol in gasoline.  EPA specifically seeks comment on issues to consider regarding an application submitted by Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC (Butamax), a manufacturer of isobutanol, pursuant to the regulations titled “Registration of Fuels and Fuel Additives” for the registration of isobutanol as a gasoline additive at up to 16 volume percent, and any supplemental actions EPA should consider under the Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA states that Butamax’s information would likely satisfy the applicable registration requirements, and, due to the likelihood of this registration, there is potential for the widespread introduction of isobutanol into commerce.  Further information on biobutanol, the common name for isobutanol made from renewable sources, is available in the Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by April 30, 2018.
DOE
NREL Discovers Enzyme Domains That Dramatically Improve Performance

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.”

USDA

USDA Issues Statement On Plant Breeding Innovation Techniques That Include Genome Editing

On March 28, 2018, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sonny Perdue issued a statement providing clarification on USDA’s oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques that include techniques called genome editing.  The announcement states that under its biotechnology regulations, USDA “does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests,” which “includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods” and “[t]he newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.”   Secretary Perdue stated that using this science, “farmers can continue to meet consumer expectations for healthful, affordable food produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources.”

International

Bioenergy Australia And QUT Make Case For Government Policies Driving Bioenergy Industry

On March 28, 2018, Bioenergy Australia and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) released “Biofuels to bioproducts: A growth industry for Australia.” The paper calls for the implementation of a Five-Point Plan creating a bioenergy policy framework to spur growth in Ausralia’s bioeconomy.  The paper also argues that the current lack of policy and programs encouraging the bioenergy industry have hurt Australia as it has missed out on economic, social, and environmental benefits that other countries have experienced as a result of bioeconomy growth. It is suggested that “increased use of 10 per cent ethanol-blended petrol (E10) in Australia could create more than 8600 direct & indirect jobs, attract $1.56 billion in investment and generate more than $1.1 billion in additional revenue each year in regional areas.” The researchers proposed a Five-Point Plan in the paper, which includes:

1.Developing a national biofuels, biobased products, and bioeconomy strategy;
2.Implementing a national biofuels mandate supporting the introduction of higher quality fuels;
3.Providing supporting mechanisms of education, incentives, and infrastructure;
4.Establishing policy frameworks for advanced/drop-in biofuels, biochemical, and biobased products; and
5.Supporting commercial developments through industry and research collaboration.

 

Industry

ASTM Bio-Jet Fuel Specification Allows Commercialization Of Drop-In Jet Fuel

ASTM International’s energizing fuels division recently passed an Alcohol To Jet (ATJ) ethanol based specification ballot measure that will allow jet fuel, produced from ethanol under the ATJ process, to be sold commercially on a global basis.  ASTM D7566 had previously permitted ethanol as a feedstock for Aviation Turbine Fuel with a maximum final fuel blend of 50 percent, but now permits a full replacement of the hydrocarbon fuel. This change opens the door to the use of more drop-in fuels used as alternatives to fossil fuels.  Kevin Weiss, CEO of Byogy Renewables, stated of the change, “[i]t’s one thing to have a great commodity product, but without an operative supply chain it’s difficult to sell. […] We now have the ability to supplement and leverage the existing downstream petroleum industry with a well distributed ATJ Sustainable Aviation Fuel that can be produced anywhere by building on the existing global ethanol supply chain.”
Other News

Princeton University, “Researchers Use Light to Turn Yeast into Biochemical Factories
Biodiesel, “NBB Again Disappointed by Failure to Renew Biodiesel Tax Credit
Biodiesel Magazine, “DOJ Must Maintain Integrity of RFS, Reject PES Settlement
Reuters, “U.S. Asks Brazil to Review Ethanol Quotas in Tariff Talks – Industry Group
Berkeley Lab, “Sewage Sludge Leads to Biofuels Breakthrough

 

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The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased 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.
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