Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated eight new biobased product categories for preferred Federal procurement. The announcement furthers the goals of last year’s presidential memorandum designed to increase rural job creation through procurement of biobased products and increase the number of biobased product categories and individual products eligible for preferred purchasing. There are now 97 designated categories representing approximately10,000 unique types of products.
“Every day, companies across the nation are creating incredible new products from crops grown here at home, expanding markets for agriculture and growing job opportunities in rural America” said Vilsack. “The designation of these new categories underlines the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening the biobased economy, and to besure that the Federal government uses homegrown biobased products whenever possible.”
USDA has designated the following new categories: aircraft and boat cleaners; automotive care products, engine crankcase oil; gasoline fuel additives; metal cleaners and corrosion removers; microbial cleaning products; paint removers; and water turbine bearing oils. A full list was published in the June 11, 2013 Federal Register.
The Biopreferred Program also has reopened the web portal for companies to apply for the voluntary USDA Certified Biobased Product label. Thus far about 900 individual products have received the USDA Certified Biobased Product label.
Later this year the BioPreferred program is expected to finalize a rule that will extend to designating intermediate ingredients so products made fromthem could be part of the preferred Federal procurement process. That regulation would also allow for the designation of complex assemblies that contain one or more components from biobased ingredients.
The Biopreferred Program was authorized in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. Secretary Vilsack noted that a long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is critical to continuing USDA’s investment in the BioPreferred Program. “A Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would help grow opportunity for the creation of biobased products across rural America – expanding manufacturing, and creating jobs,” Said Vilsack. “This is just one more reason why we need a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.”
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
Foresight USA has introduced “Natural Partners”, a line of high quality competitively priced, sustainable disposable products for the Foodservice, bag, film and packaging industries. Years of industry production experience go into the making of Natural Partners product lines.
These items are made of natural resources, such as plant starches from corn (PLA), Sugar cane (bagasse), and other renewable plant sources. Foresight USA partners with its customers to bring them a complete line of bio-degradable and/or compostable plastics that allow nature and business to partner together so both can flourish.
48 Companies have joined forces with the European Commission to set up a Public-Private Partnership and accelerate the deployment of biobased products in Europe.
The European Commission has proposed a €3.8 billion Public Private Partnership (PPP) on Biobased Industries, in order to speed up the commercialization of biobased products in Europe. The European Commission will invest €1 billion and industry €2.8 billion, from 2014 to 2020, to boost market uptake of new biobased products that are “made in Europe”.
The partnership promotes the use of various sources of sustainable biomass and waste to produce everyday products such as food, feed, chemicals and fuels. The use of local biomass and waste will generate growth and jobs in rural areas across European regions, while reducing the EU’s reliance on fossil fuels, thereby offering sustainable alternatives to oil-based products and enhancing energy and food security.
Novozymes is part of this initiative alongside 47 leading European companies in the biotech, chemical, energy, agro-food and pulp and paper sectors.
"The Biobased Industries PPP is essential for Europe to remain competitive in the global race for the development of a biobased economy,” says Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen. “It is an opportunity for reindustrialization and for reversing the investment trend currently going to other regions of the world because of more attractive policy frameworks.”
The PPP will capitalize on Europe’s innovation and technological leadership to bring biobased solutions from research labs to the market. Various sectors will be brought together to optimize and create new value chains, such as connecting farmers and foresters directly to consumers.
The PPP is part of the European Commission’s Innovation Investment Package that was released today. The PPP is expected to start its activities in early 2014 following approval from EU Member States.
Perstorp will be launching its proven technology Capa™ Thermoplastic products for bioplastics at K Fair, 2013. Considerable investments have been made in caprolactones to ensure we deliver new Capa™ products that address key issues related to plastic materials, such as sustainability, biodegradability and product safety.
Bioplastics that are biodegradable, such as PLA (PolyLactic Acid) and TPS (ThermoPlastic Starch), are becoming increasingly attractive to both consumers and producers, as they offer new ways of recovery and recycling. Perstorp’s caprolactones enhance the properties of bioplastics allowing them to be used for new market opportunities and applications. Capa™ provides superior biodegradation, easier processing and compatibility.
Capa™ – the perfect polyester for bioplastic blends
Capa™ is the perfect polyester for bioplastics blends, improving several mechanical properties as well as accelerating biodegradation of the biopolymers. Bioplastics with Capa™ biodegrade quickly in the right conditions - you can use domestic composting, rather than industrial requiring a higher temperature. Capa™ also offers excellent tear properties by adding mechanical strength, and making the bioplastic more flexible, so that it elongates and stretches rather than tears. The excellent low temperature performance allows bioplastic products to be used in cold environments.
With Capa™ you achieve a more durable product for a longer life with better compostability at end of life. The low melting point reduces energy consumption when processing to a minimum. This all adds up to a very sustainable and practical solution for bioplastic producers.
Capa™ facilitates new opportunities for other bioplastics
The synergy effects of adding Capa™ to biopolymers mean greatly increased opportunities. For example, by adding Capa™, PLA can be used in film applications. Capa™ can be easily blended with PLA and starch based polymers to attain customized and desirable properties that really broaden their appeal.
Wherever you can use biopolymers you can use Capa™ that is ideal for both renewable and disposable polyesters. In disposables – for plastic bags, compost bags, coated paper and one-time plastic cutlery, and in renewables – for cutlery, trays and items that need to last a year or two. Bioplastics are now broadening out into electronic equipment, such as mobile handsets and casings, and making inroads into automotive parts too. Capa™ is an essential part of this journey into these new market segments.
BASF, Cargill and Novozymes today announced the achievement of an important milestone in their joint development of technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials by successfully demonstrating the production of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) in pilot scale.
3-HP is a renewable-based building block and one possible chemical precursor to acrylic acid. The companies also have successfully established several technologies to dehydrate 3-HP to acrylic acid at lab scale. This step in the process is critical since it is the foundation for production of acrylic acid. In August 2012, BASF, Cargill and Novozymes announced their joint agreement to develop a process for the conversion of renewable raw materials into a 100 percent bio-based acrylic acid.
“3-HP is a potential key raw material for the production of bio-based acrylic acid which is a precursor of superabsorbent polymers,” said Teressa Szelest, Senior Vice President Global Hygiene Business at BASF. “We still have a fair amount of work to do before the process is commercially ready, but this is a significant milestone and we are confident we can continue to the next level of scale-up for the entire process in 2014.”
Acrylic acid is a high-volume chemical that feeds into a broad range of products. BASF is the world’s largest producer of acrylic acid and has substantial capabilities in its production and downstream processing. BASF plans initially to use the bio-based acrylic acid to manufacture superabsorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid and are used mainly in baby diapers and other hygiene products. Presently, acrylic acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene derived from the refining of crude oil.
The companies’ joint project team combines world-class expertise in biotechnology, renewable feedstock, industrial scale fermentation, and in developing new chemical processes.
“Our three companies have assembled highly talented and experienced joint working teams for this project,” said Jack Staloch, Vice President of Biotechnology R&D at Cargill. “They’ve moved with speed and intensity, and have demonstrated great progress toward accomplishing our goals.”
“We have reached an important milestone by producing 3-HP in pilot scale,” said Rasmus von Gottberg, Vice President of Corporate Development and Business Creation at Novozymes. “We have shown that it is possible to make this key chemical building block from renewable raw materials in robust industrial conditions. Now the development work will continue towards commercialization.”
Superabsorbent polymers derived from bio-based acrylic acid will be a groundbreaking new offer to the market. Diapers made of such superabsorbent polymers could meet the demand of a significant and growing group of consumers in mature markets in particular. They also may allow diaper producers to meet consumer demands, differentiate their products and contribute to their sustainability goals.
The compostable plastic ecovio® from BASF has found its first production application in a system solution for packaging. The Swiss Coffee Company’s coffee capsules beanarella consist of the new injection molding grade ecovio IS1335; at the same time the multi-layer composite system for the aroma-tight outer barrier packaging for the capsules is also ecovio-based. The capsules fulfill the demanding requirements for protecting the product and brewing coffee in high-pressure coffee machines, yet may still be composted; so does the barrier packaging. The system solution is predominantly based on renewable resources. The product which was jointly developed in only some 13 months, can contribute to sustainability while simultaneously addressing the latest trend in coffee drinking. In mid-May, the Swiss Coffee Company received the IDEE SUISSE "Golden Idea Award 2013" innovation prize for this product concept in Zürich for an "innovative contribution to the sustainable strengthening of the Swiss economy"
Newlight Technologies LLC was unknown to almost everyone in the audience at the nova-Institute's recent biotechnology event until it became the first American company to win top honors in what is fast becoming a highly coveted distinction in the world of bioplastics.
The California-based company became the 6th winner of the annual Biomaterial of the Year - Innovation Award earlier this month in Cologne, Germany. Since 2008, the award, an initiative of the German independent research institute nova-Institut, has been presented to companies developing innovative bioplastics and technologies with practical applications.
Greenhouse gas based plastics on a commodity scale
In his presentation, Newlight Technologies co-founder and CEO Mark Herrema wasted no time in bringing his audience up to speed on what Newlight Technologies was up to. "Our mission is to replace oil-based plastics with greenhouse gas-based plastics on a commodity scale. Our founding idea was taking greenhouse gasses and turning them into plastic. We thought, maybe plastics can be part of the solution to the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere. We saw this as a platform to fix the problem: we could take carbon emissions and turn them into material. We recognized that to do this at volume, we would need to out-compete oil-based plastics on price and performance.
Thus Newlight Technologies was born: a company founded out of Princeton University and Northwestern University in 2003 by Mark Herrema and Kenton Kimmel, who soon discovered that what they were trying to do had been tried before - without success. "We spent the next 10 years trying to get the cost of production down," said Herrema. "Today, 10 years, 10 patents and millions of dollars in R & D later, and with breakthroughs in yield and performance, we've figured it out."
Proprietary biocatalyst is key
The company has developed a proprietary biocatalyst to convert air and greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, into PHA-based plastics at very high yield. Newlight's conversion technology can synthesize high-performance thermoplastics from a wide range of sources, including methane and/or carbon dioxide from wastewater treatment facilities, landfills, anaerobic digesters, or energy facilities - at scale.
Newlight Technologies is headquartered in Irvine, CA.
So, how did they do it? "The critical breakthrough came when we discovered there was a control switch that deactivated the catalyst. We found out how to turn it off, and the impact was dramatic - immediately, a 500% increase in yield performance compared to before," explained Herrema.
For the first time, here was a process that could out-compete oil-based commodity plastics on price, performance, and sustainability.
"People ask us what kind of PHA we make," said Herrema. "I tell them: the cost effective kind!"
A new PHA
Newlight's Airflex (mPHA), also called AirCarbon, is a family of high-performance thermoplastic resins that, according to the company can be produced as a carbon-negative thermoplastic material, "quantifiably reducing the amount of carbon released into the air in every pound of plastic we make." These PHAs, which are available in various grades, can be used in applications where (impact) polypropylene, polyethylene, ABS, or TPU would traditionally be used. Newlight currently has 12.5 million lb of resin executed under LOI.
"We now have a market-driven tool to capture carbon," said Herrema as he ended. "We've reduced cost and maintained performance. Our product has the potential to compete directly with some major chemically produced polymers. We can change the world. It's here, it's now - and it's happening as we speak."
June, the kick-off meeting for the project POLYNOL was held. This three-year project is the result of a pilot project in 2012, aimed at building up knowledge and business opportunities concerning the production of "second generation" biofuels and biochemicals via sugars, from raw materials that do not compete with food production. One potential product from sugar is ethanol, which today perhaps is most associated with transportation fuels but there are more applications. The large amount of ethanol produced from sugar cane in Brazil today has begun to find new markets as base chemical, and manufacturing of polyethylene from ethanol on a large scale is already a reality.
Participants at the POLYNOL start-up meeting
A Swedish-Brazilian consortium will now develop a new process concept developed at Innventia for co-production of lignin and second generation sugars from wood in the pulp mill. The feedstock is bagasse and forestry residues which have been pretreated with alkaline fractionation. The process is integrated with a kraft pulp mill when it comes to energy and chemical recovery, including lignin extraction. The ethanol may be partly used as raw material for polymers for barrier materials in liquid packaging which is also manufactured integrated in the pulp mill.
"There are many benefits of integrating production of biochemicals in the pulp mill. There are, for example, already processes and equipment to handle streams of biomass in a cost efficient and environmentally friendly manner. From a business perspective, the new concept involves entirely new products in the pulp mill's portfolio, which is well suited to the global demand for renewable products," says Niklas Berglin, project manager for POLYNOL.
"Part of the project is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency in order to study the possibilities for ethanol production, but we will also apply for financial support from VINNOVA – Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, which will enable further process development for the production of biochemicals with higher value," says Anna von Schenck, responsible for the technical feasibility study.
"Thanks the LignoBoost technology, we now have a concept that makes it possible and attractive to produce ethanol and biochemicals in a way that does not compete with food production," adds Peter Axegård, Director of Innventia's business area Biorefining.