Biobased Products News and Policy Report
May 7, 2021
U.S. Senators Klobuchar And Ernst Introduce Biofuels Infrastructure Bill
On April 5, 2021, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), introduced a $500 million bill on biofuels infrastructure. The bill, titled the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act, would create a grant program to aid fuel retailers in streamlining sales of fuels with higher ethanol blends. These infrastructure grants would be available for five years. Senator Klobuchar highlighted that “[d]iversifying our fuel supply and introducing higher blends of biofuels in the market are great steps forward as we work to promote clean energy technologies and invest in transportation infrastructure.” She also stated that this legislation would highly benefit the economy and the environment by making cleaner fuels more accessible.
DOE FEMP Issues FAC For New Energy Projects That Reduce Carbon Footprint Of Federal Facilities
On April 27, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) issued a Federal Agency Call (FAC) titled “Assisting Federal Facilities with Energy Conservation Technologies (AFFECT 2021),” soliciting $13 million for new energy projects that will help federal facilities to improve the efficiency of their operations and reduce their carbon footprints. These efforts come with the hope that DOE will contribute to the Biden Administration’s goal of a 100 percent clean-energy economy and net zero emissions by 2050. DOE’s FEMP actions will, according to DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Acting Assistant Secretary, Kelly Speakes-Backman, “… both decarbonize and strengthen the critical energy and water infrastructure at … federal facilities, ensuring continuous operations in times of crisis.”
AFFECT 2021 will fund efficient, clean-energy projects that address directly climate change mitigation and adaptation through privately financed performance contracts, including:
- Energy savings performance contracts (ESPC);
- ESPC ENABLE – An initiative designed to permit a standardized and streamlined procurement process for small federal energy conservation measure (ECM) projects in six months or less; and
- Utility energy services contracts (UESC).
The goal is for these performance contracts to leverage the $13 million in AFFECT grants into approximately $260 million or more in project investments.
Applications are being accepted for the AFFECT 2021 FAC until July 16, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT). Registration is required prior to submission through EERE Exchange. Additional information is available here.
DOE Issues RFP For Recovery, Recycling, and Reuse of Material Waste From Manufacturing
On April 28, 2021, DOE issued a $22.5 million request for proposals (RFP) for projects that support recovery, recycling, and reuse of material waste generated by the manufacturing sector. DOE EERE stated that “[p]rojects funded through this solicitation will develop technologies that reduce embodied energy and carbon emissions associated with the production and consumption of metals, polymers, fibers, and electronic waste, as well as identify training activities that will expand the American manufacturing workforce.” The projects will be managed by DOE’s Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute, which is funded by DOE EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.
DOE Report Highlights Opportunities For Hybrid Energy Systems R&D
On April 29, 2021, DOE, in partnership with nine National Laboratories, issued a report titled “Hybrid Energy Systems: Opportunities for Coordinated Research.” The report outlines opportunities for innovation through joint research and development (R&D) on hybrid energy systems. According to DOE, these opportunities can drive the production of valuable chemicals, fuels, and products that are cost-efficient, increase grid flexibility, and decarbonize the U.S. economy. The report comes at a crucial point in time as DOE focuses on meeting the Biden Administration’s goal of achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050. DOE Hybrids Task Force members and representatives from various DOE offices will use the report as an optimization tool to design more cost-efficient and grid-friendly hybridization technologies.
EPA Announces Disclosure Of CBI In RFS SRE Petitions And Related Information In EPA’s EMTS
On May 5, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice of disclosure to all obligated parties under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program that have submitted small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions and to all parties whose RFS information otherwise resides in EPA’s Moderated Transaction System (EMTS). EPA’s action is in response to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) request to disclose such information that has been submitted to EPA that claims to be, or is determined to be, confidential business information (CBI). The information to be disclosed includes documents and data related to SRE petitions received by EPA since the beginning of the RFS program through the present. Such records include:
- All materials submitted by small refineries as part of its SRE petition;
- Any documentation sent by DOE to EPA summarizing DOE’s findings and score(s) associated with the petition(s) and any EPA responses to such petitions;
- Any EPA record that addresses the subject of the exemption petition(s), including EPA analysis done in addition to DOE’s findings;
- EPA’s final exemption decision sent to the refinery; and
- RFS related transaction-level data contained in EMTS, including Renewable Identification Number (RIN) transactions under RFS.
These records and information will be shared with GAO no later than 16 days after the publication of the notice. All CBI-claimed documents will be destroyed, deleted, or returned to EPA at the conclusion of GAO’s review.
UMD Researchers Develop Novel Bioplastic From Lignocellulosic Resources
On March 25, 2021, researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) published, in Nature Sustainability, a study titled “A strong, biodegradable and recyclable lignocellulosic bioplastic.” The study outlines UMD MSE’s new in situ lignin regeneration strategy that synthesizes a high-performance bioplastic from lignocellulosic resources such as wood. According to the published article, renewable and biodegradable materials derived from biomass often exhibit mechanical performance and wet stability that are insufficient for practical applications. Given these circumstances, the newly developed method for bioplastic production improves efficiency and reduces environmental impacts because it involves only green and recyclable chemicals. The study can be accessed here, detailing the process in which porous matrices of natural wood are deconstructed to form the lignocellulosic bioplastic.
University Of York Researchers Discover New Fungus Enzyme For Biofuel And Biobased Chemical Production
On April 28, 2021, University of York researchers announced the discovery of a new enzyme derived from a fungus called Parascedosporium putredinis NO1, that can act as a catalyst for a biochemical reaction that breaks down forestry and agricultural waste. The research was done in collaboration with DOE’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the University of Wisconsin. This development, according to the University of York, could play a key part in upscaling renewable fuels and chemicals. Professor Neil Bruce explained that this discovery is a breakthrough because currently there are no industrial biocatalytic processes for breaking down lignin, which is present in lignocellulose. This enzyme, however, can break through the lignin to begin the degradation process needed to produce biofuels. Professor Bruce elaborated that the “treatments with this enzyme can increase the digestibility of lignocellulosic biomass, offering the possibility of producing a valuable product from lignin while decreasing processing costs.”
NREL Leads Analysis Of How To Retire PV Modules In Support Of Its Circular Economy Goals
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers are leading analyses of recycling, repairing, and reusing solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in support of NREL’s mission to incentivize a circular economy for energy materials. According to NREL, the increase in the installation of PV systems is leading to environmental and supply chain concerns because the technology relies on imports and mining of raw materials to meet domestic demands. NREL predicts that, by 2030, decommissioned PV modules could total a million tons of waste in the United States, or one percent of the world’s e-waste. Concerned by these facts, NREL researchers have been leading ongoing analyses of the end-of-life management of PV modules in the current market. Taylor Curtis, an NREL sustainability analyst, highlights that “[r]epair, reuse, or recovery of this equipment would reduce negative environmental impacts, reduce resource constraints, and stimulate U.S. economic growth.”
According to NREL research, if best practices are applied and regulatory barriers removed in the future, the U.S. industry for recovered PV materials could total $60 million by 2030 or $2 billion by 2050, from modules alone. A summary of NREL’s recommended best practices for retiring PV systems is detailed in this report, and a detailed analysis of current federal and state regulatory barriers to PV module recycling and recovery is available in NREL’s March 2021 report titled “Solar Photovoltaic Module Recycling: A Survey of U.S. Policies and Initiatives.”
EC To Hold Webinar On Biotechnology IP
On May 12, 2021, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT), the European Commission (EC) Helpdesk will host a webinar on appropriate Intellectual Property (IP) rights for biotechnology inventions. The 60-minute webinar will provide an overview of:
- Relevant IP rights;
- Product development IP context;
- IP specifics in biotechnology;
- IP portfolio development; and
- IP portfolio management.
The webinar is free of charge, but registration is required. Additional information is available here.
25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 14-18, 2021, via webinar
The American Chemical Society (ACS) presents the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, with sessions spanning the breadth and depth of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering. This year’s conference theme is Sustainable Production to Advance the Circular Economy and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will present “Getting to market: Planning for regulatory approval” during the Green and Sustainable Chemistry in Manufacturing for More Sustainable Household and Personal Care Products session.