Biobased and Renewable Products Update
August 10, 2017
DOE Awards Additional MEGA-BIO Project
On August 2, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that a fourth project under the MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels Funding Opportunity would be awarded up to $1.8 million. Michigan State University was selected to manage the fourth project, which will work in partnership with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MBI International to optimize a two-stage process for deconstruction of biomass into two clean intermediate streams, specifically sugars for the production of hydrocarbon fuels and lignins for the production of multiple value-added chemicals.
In August 2016, DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) selected three projects for an initial round of funding; the total funding for the four awards is $13.1 million. All four projects support the development of biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can produce variable amounts of fuels and/or products based on external factors allowing for the conversion of biomass where it is most impactful and a positive return on investment.
DOE Announces Open Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee Meeting
On August 2, 2017, DOE published a notice in the Federal Register announcing a public meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of approximately 30 volunteers from industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, and local government that collaborate to:
■ Advise the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Points of Contact concerning:
➢ The technical focus and direction of requests for proposals issued under the Initiative; and
➢ Procedures for reviewing and evaluating the proposals;
■ Facilitate consultations and partnerships among federal and state agencies, agricultural producers, industry, consumers, the research community, and other interested groups to carry out program activities relating to the Initiative; and
■ Evaluate and perform strategic planning on program activities relating to the Initiative.
The purpose of the meeting is to develop advice and guidance that promotes research and development (R&D) leading to the production of biobased fuels and products. The tentative agenda includes updates on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DOE Biomass R&D activities, as well as presentations on biomass interface with fossil fuel.
The meeting will take place in Los Angeles, California, from 1:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. on August 15, 2017, and from 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. on August 16, 2017. A summary of the meeting will be available for public review on the committee website.
European Commission Launches Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre
On July 26, 2017, the European Commission announced the launch of the Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre, which was created by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) to better support policy makers with science-based evidence in the bioeconomy field. Rather than generate information, the objective is to build on JRC’s expertise in knowledge management. The online platform will collect, structure, and provide access to knowledge from a wide range of scientific sources on the bioeconomy, the sustainable production of renewable biological resources, and their conversion into valuable products. The platform will also support the European Commission in the review of the 2012 Bioeconomy Strategy, taking into account new political and policy developments, such as the Paris agreement, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and the Circular Economy Package.
Minnesota Doubles Summer Biofuel Mandate For Diesel
On August 3, 2017, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced that the state will implement a new biodiesel standard in May 2018 that will increase the biodiesel blend mandate from 10 percent (B10) to 20 percent (B20) between April and September each year. Currently under the state’s biodiesel program, diesel fuel sold in Minnesota must contain at least 10 percent biodiesel during the summer months, with the blend lowering to 5 percent from October to March. While the new mandate doubles the blend requirement during the summer months, the mandate will revert back to 5 percent over the winter months unless state officials and technical experts determine that accepted federal standards deem certain higher blends as suitable for year-round use in Minnesota.
Since a large portion of Minnesota’s biodiesel is made from homegrown soybeans, the new standard is expected to add an average of 63 cents to the market price of a bushel of soybeans for Minnesota farmers, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1 million tons next year. Minnesota’s biodiesel industry is estimated to contribute more than $1.7 billion annually to the economy, with the state’s three biodiesel plants producing a combined 74 million gallons of biodiesel annually.
■ Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Materials –Cooking Up Biofuel”
Treasure Coast Research Park, “The Sweet Smell of Success…and Beets!”