Biobased and Renewable Products Update
September 6, 2018
DOE Announces Funding For Bioenergy Research And Development Projects
On September 4, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its support for projects in Bioenergy Research and Development. The projects total about $80 million and address early-stage research and development in the hopes of achieving DOE’s goal of reducing biobased costs in fuels by 2022. Funding for these projects comes from four different programs: BioEnergy Engineering for Products Synthesis, Efficient Carbon Utilization in Algal Systems, Process Development for Advanced Biofuels and Biopower, and Affordable and Sustainable Energy Crops. U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, stated that “[t]he selections announced…highlight some of the most innovative and advanced bioenergy technologies that have the potential to produce new sources of reliable and affordable energy for American families and businesses.” A full list of the projects being funded can be found here.
Repurposing Methylene Blue In Flow Batteries
Methylene blue consists of a blue dye used in the textile industry. A new study, published in mid-August 2018, reveals that the dye can be repurposed for use in redox flow batteries. After establishing that the chemical compound has electrochemical properties, chemists at the University of Buffalo divulged that, as an active ingredient, it can be used to store energy. In the textile industry, only about five percent of methylene blue is absorbed by fabrics and the rest produces large amounts of waste water that can be toxic to the environment. According to the University of Buffalo chemists Anjula M. Kosswattaarachchi and Timothy R. Cook, this waste water can be used by reducing the dye’s molecules to produce leuco-methylene blue through electricity generated by a power source. This process is reversible, which makes it a good fit in redox flow battery configurations as a green energy storage technology.
Polyamides From Wood Creates Building Blocks For Biobased Plastics
On August 30, 2018, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (Fraunhofer IGB) published an article announcing the latest advances in using 3-carene as a building block to produce biobased plastics. The aforementioned substance, 3-carene, “is a component of turpentine oil, a waste stream of the production of cellulose from wood.” This substance can be found in pine, larch, or spruce and is usually a byproduct that ends up being incinerated. The research project’s name — “TerPa – Terpenes as building blocks for biobased polyamides” — reflects the general premise of the technique used in transforming 3-carene into polyamides, which are used as alternatives to glass/metal and resistant to various chemicals and solvents. Researchers at Fraunhofer IGB confirm that they have optimized the synthesis of lactam — a key component in building polyamides — in large scale through a single reactor that requires less energy input. The resulting biobased polyamides are amorphous and resistant to high temperatures, which are ideal in the production of plastics.
Biofuel Production From Bacteria
On August 24, 2018, researchers from the University of Kent, UK, published a study on a new technique developed to use bacteria as cell factories to produce biofuels. Working in partnership with scientists from University College London, the University of Bristol, and Queen Mary University of London, Matthew J. Lee et al., uncovered a biotechnical approach to redesign bacterial structures called organelles. The latter, also known as bacterial microcompartments (BMC), carries out metabolic pathways through chemical reactions in the cell. Although these reactions are difficult to control, the University of Kent researchers discovered how to target new metabolic pathways to the BMCs. This technique opens the possibility of using BMCs in a wide variety of applications, which include the generation of biofuels and vaccines through synthetic biology.
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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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