USDA Selects 36 Energy Facilities for Biomass Deliveries

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected 36 energy facilities in 14 states to accept biomass deliveries as part of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Biomass owners who supply these bioenergy facilities may qualify for BCAP delivery assistance beginning July 28, 2014. BCAP was reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

bcap_logo_368Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) is available each year to assist biomass owners with the cost of delivery of agricultural or forest residues for energy generation. Some BCAP payments will target the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands for renewable energy, which reduces the risk of forest fire.

“This program generates clean energy from biomass, reduces the threat of fires by removing dead or diseased trees from public forest lands, and invests in rural businesses and new energy markets,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA ag secretary. “The fires we are seeing right now in the west underscore the need for forest restoration and fire prevention. Pairing this effort with forest restoration on public lands will help guard against these fires while promoting economic opportunity for rural communities.”

Farmers, ranchers or foresters who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a BCAP-qualified energy facility may be eligible for financial assistance for deliveries. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass owners from July 28 through Aug. 25. Deliveries of residues for approved contracts may be made through Sept. 26, 2014.

Himark BioGas to Build 3 Anaerobic Digestion Plants

Himark BioGas International is building three integrated anaerobic digestion (AD) and fertilizer plants for NEO Energy in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The AD plants will be designed and constructed by Himark and will recycle food waste to produce renewable electricity and organic-based fertilizer. As part of the agreement, Himark BioGas will act as a technology licensor and owner’s representative on behalf of NEO Energy LLC during the design, construction and operation stages of the plants.

GPHH_webreadyShane Chrapko, CEO of Himark BioGas, said, “The development of the anaerobic digestion plants will positively contribute to effective food waste recycling, profitable pathogen-free fertilizer production, energy self-sufficiency and a reduction in carbon emissions for the local communities. Each ton of food waste diverted from the landfill will reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by just over one ton of CO2 (Equivalent).”

The AD plants will be designed based on Himark BioGas’ patented “IMUS” technology that can produce renewable energy and pathogen-free fertilizer from food waste, source separated organic materials, cow manure, ethanol plant waste/thin stillage, slaughter house waste, food processing waste and agricultural waste (open pen feedlot, sand-laden dairies, etc.). The IMUS technology also can handle feedstock containing large amounts of sand, dirt, rocks, plastic and cellulose. Furthermore, Himark said with its turnkey, guaranteed-maximum capital cost designs, the company guarantees electricity, gas and fertilizer outputs with any kind of feedstock.

“NEO’s anaerobic digestion plants will recycle food waste generated by supermarkets, food processors, restaurants and other institutions and divert that waste away from landfills and incineration facilities,” said Robert Nicholson, president of NEO Energy. “Our plants produce a high-quality organic-based fertilizer while reducing greenhouse gases, preserving landfill capacity and producing renewable energy. Our first plants will also be available to those businesses that will need to comply with the 2014 commercial food waste disposal ban in Massachusetts and the recently enacted law in Rhode Island requiring that food residuals produced by large waste generators be recycled starting in 2016.

Southern Nevada Water Authority Goes Solar

Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is going solar with the help of SunEdison. SNWA has signed a power purchase agreement that locks in the majority of its energy costs at a fixed rate. The power will be provided by a 14 MW solar farm that SunEdison will develop, construct, own and operate located in Clark County, Nevada.

SNWA logo“This partnership with SunEdison expands our renewable energy portfolio to about 18 percent of our total power mix, and it provides additional stability to power costs, which ultimately benefits Southern Nevada’s municipal water users,” said John Entsminger, Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager. “When compared with traditional power production from fossil fuels, this solar facility will also save more than 100 million gallons of water and contribute to the sustainability of our community.”

According to SNWA, water is used in a number of ways in fossil fuel based electricity production, including generating steam to turn turbines, helping to keep power plants cool, and flushing away the fuel residue after fossil fuels are burned. By contrast, solar PV power plants do not use water in the production of electricity.

SunEdison-Logo“This project is a great example of how SunEdison can provide cost effective solar solutions to fit almost any location,” said Bob Powell, President, North America at SunEdison. “This ground-mounted facility will be built around a transmission and pipeline infrastructure that is quite complex – if we can do it here, we can do it anywhere.”

Construction of the facility will begin in early 2015 with commercial operation slated for later that year. Once operational, the solar power plant will be managed by the SunEdison Renewable Operation Center (ROC), which provides global 24/7 asset management, monitoring and reporting services. Data collected from the ROC is used to continuously improve the company’s products, project designs and service offerings.

Crop Residues, Manure Hold Great Potential for Bioenergy

Crop residues and manure hold great potential as bioenergy sources, especially in areas such as the Midwest where row crops and livestock provide all the ingredients. This report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says those resources will need some help, though, from the right policies, practices, and investments.
UCSreport
UCS analysis finds that by 2030, U.S. farmers could sustainably produce up to 155 million tons of crop residues, many times the current level of production. U.S. livestock could produce another 60 million tons of manure, to be turned into clean-burning biogas.

The right policies, practices, and investments will help these clean energy sources realize their potential—with huge benefits for farmers, communities, and the environment…

Fuel and electricity made from agricultural biomass is potentially clean too. With the right practices, ethanol made from crop residues can produce 90 percent fewer lifecycle emissions, compared to gasoline.

Many states could significantly scale up their use of crop residues and manure. The largest include Iowa, a leading producer of corn ethanol, and Arkansas, the nation’s top rice producer.

Texas and California offer a lot of potential as well because of those states’ large agricultural outputs.

Renewable Energy Provides 56% of Electrical Generation

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower provided 55.7% (1,965 MW of the 3,529 MW total installed) of new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity during the first half of 2014.

  • Solar provided 32.1% (1,131 MW)
  • Wind provided 19.8% (699 MW)
  • Biomass provided 2.5% (87 MW)
  • Geothermal provided 0.9% (32 MW)
  • Hydropower provided 0.5% (16 MW)
  • Most of the balance (1,555 MW – 44.1%) of the new generating capacity was provided by natural gas while no new coal or nuclear power capacity was reported

solar installationAccording to the SUN DAY Campaign, the dominant role being played by renewables in providing new electrical generating capacity in 2014 is continuing a trend now several years in the making. Over the past 30 months (i.e., since January 1, 2012), renewable energy sources have accounted for almost half (48.0%) or 22,774 MW of the 47,446 MW of new electrical generating capacity.

If calendar year 2011 is also factored in, then renewables have accounted for approximately 45% of all new electrical generating capacity over the past 3 1/2 years. In fact, since January 1, 2011 renewables have provided more new electrical generating capacity than natural gas (31,345 MW vs. 29,176 MW) and nearly four times that from coal (8,235 MW)

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.28% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water – 8.57%, wind – 5.26%, biomass – 1.37%, solar – 0.75%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. This is up from 14.76% two years earlier (i.e., June 30, 2012) and is now more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (4.03%) combined.

“A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that renewable energy sources will account for only 24% of new capacity additions between now and 2040,” Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, noted. “However, the latest FERC data coupled with that published during the past several years indicate that EIA’s numbers are once again low-balling the likely share – and probably dominant share – of renewables in the nation’s future energy mix.”

DOE & USDA Announce Bioenergy Projects

Ten projects will receive funding aimed at accelerating genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstocks for biofuel production as well as biopower and bio-based power. The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $12.6 million in research grants designed for harnessing nonfood plant biomass to replace US DOE Energy logofossil fuels and chemicals. The agencies note that feedstock crops tend to require less intensive production practices and can grow on poorer quality land than food crops, making this a critical element in a strategy of sustainable biofuels production that avoids competition with crops grown for food.

“Biofuels and bio-based products offer the potential of homegrown American resources that can reduce our dependence on imported oil and also cut carbon emissions,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “This advanced research is helping us to lay the groundwork for biomass as an important part of the low-carbon future.”

The winning projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas, and Virginia. DOE’s Office of Science will provide $10.6 million in funding for eight projects, while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will award $2 million to fund two projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added, “Innovative research is a critical link to stimulating rural economies and creating jobs across America. These awards are part of the Obama Administration’s “all of the above” energy policy. These projects will not only support our efforts to provide a sustainable and domestic energy source for the nation, but also improve the lives of rural residents.”

New projects to be funded this year will build upon gains in genetic and genomic resources for bioenergy and biofuels. The projects will accelerate the breeding of optimized dedicated bioenergy feedstocks through a better understanding of complex interactions between bioenergy feedstock plants and their environment, allowing the development of new regionally-adapted bioenergy feedstock cultivars with maximal biomass or seed oil yield and traits leading to more sustainable production systems, such as minimal water usage and nutrient input requirements.

Maine Utilities Partner to Improve Grid

Emera Maine and Central Maine Power (CMP) have agreed to jointly develop electric transmission projects in Maine. The goal of all projects is to improve links between southern New England and northern Maine, where more than 2,100 megawatts of wind power development have been proposed. The agreement between the utilities comes in response to a call by the six New England governors for investments in the region’s energy infrastructure to diversify the energy portfolio and gain access to new renewable energy resources.

As the state’s two largest utilities, the companies serve more than 95 percent of Maine’s homes and businesses. The utilities have significant expertise with transmission projects, including the MEPCO transmission line that extends from central Maine to New Brunswick, Canada.

Transmission Project in MaineCentral Maine Power is the state’s largest utility serving 605,000 homes and businesses in the southern third of the state. The company is nearing completion of the Maine Power Reliability Program, a $1.4 billion investment in new transmission lines and substations to reinforce its 345,000 volt bulk power grid.

“Our Maine Power Reliability Program is the largest construction project ever in Maine, and one of New England’s largest transmission projects,” said Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power. “It’s a vast and complex undertaking, but four years into construction, the project is on time and on budget.”

Emera Maine serves approximately 154,000 homes and businesses in eastern and northern Maine. Significant transmission projects completed by Emera Maine include the 43-mile, 115,000 volt Downeast Reliability Project, and the 85-mile, 345,000 volt Northeast Reliability Interconnect in 2007.

“Electric transmission can be a significant challenge to new low/no emitting generation sources seeking to enter our New England market”, said Gerard Chasse, president and COO of Emera Maine. “That’s a challenge that our companies have been working together on for some time, particularly in Northern Maine. With this MOU we are renewing and expanding these efforts to identify and develop creative and cost effective transmission solutions to benefit the State and the region.”

The partners have outlined two initial phases of work. Phase One will analyze the feasibility of each project, including technical feasibility, public policy, regulatory considerations, and outreach to other potential parties to the project. Phase Two will include all development activities from design, engineering, siting, through construction bidding.

Fight Over Clean Power Plan Gets Dirty

I’ve written a bit about the Clean Power Plan – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon emissions from utility plants by 30 percent by 2030. The plan has caused hope and consternation and both environmental groups and the utility industry is weighing in.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has cited a new disinformation campaign has been waged by “Big Polluters” who they say are intent on subverting the country’s first ever carbon pollution standards (aka, Clean Power Plan. In response, NRDC has launched a campaign of it’s own in response to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Study and National Mining Association (NMA) who say that putting limits on carbon will increase electricity prices. However, both the Washington Post and Denver Post have fact checked the study and claims and found some of them to be false.

“The real truth is: We need to cut the carbon pollution spewing out of power plants to protect our health and future generations. We can do this, and save people money on their electric bills even as we invest in energy efficiency that creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” said Peter Altman, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Campaign.

NRDC launched the ad on national television outlets and digital platforms to challenge critics of carbon pollution standards proposed on June 2 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The standards, when finalized says NRDC, can reduce carbon pollution at least 30 percent by 2030 by empowering states and utility companies to work together to make reductions in the most cost-effective way for each state.

In addition to debunking opponents’ claims, the NRDC ad goes after Big Polluters’ efforts to undermine energy efficiency initiatives in a number of states. For example, utility and fossil fuel-funded front groups peddled disinformation to attempt a freeze on Ohio’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) in 2014.

But ramping up energy efficiency, NRDC has shown, can help accomplish the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and help consumers. NRDC recently released an analysis showing that strong limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants could save Americans $37 billion on their electric bills and create a net 274,000 jobs. These jobs, growing mostly through investments in energy efficiency and renewables, can put to work electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers and heavy equipment operators, among others.

$14.5M in Bioenergy, Biomass Funding From USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) has announced up to $14.5 million in funding to two program funding through the 2014 Farm Bill. RD is accepting applications for companies seeking to offset the costs associated with converting fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is offering $2.5 million in grants designed to improve national energy security through the development of bio-based transportation fuels (biodiesel or ethanol, etc.) biopower and new bio-based products.

USDA Biomass Energy MapAs part of the programs, the USDA is also offering assistance to individuals, or companies interested in starting a bio-energy business called the Bioeconomy Tool Shed. The Tool Shed is a free portal offering users access to a complement of web-based tools and information, statistical data and other resources related to the sustainable production and conversion of biomass into products and fuel, a process often referred to as the bioeconomy.

“These USDA investments are part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, and they benefit our economy as well as the environment,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Ag Secretary. “USDA’s support for bio-based technologies is good for the climate, and enhances rural economic development while it decreases our dependence on foreign sources of oil. These and other USDA efforts will create new products out of homegrown agriculture from this and future generations of American farmers and foresters.”

USDA plans to make up to $12 million in payments for eligible biorefineries through RD’s Repowering Assistance Program, which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Biorefineries in existence on or before June 18, 2008 are eligible for payments to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or power with renewable biomass. Since President Obama took office, USDA has provided $6.9 million to help biorefineries transition from fossil fuels to renewable biomass systems. Applications, deadlines and details will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, June 16, 2014.

USDA is also seeking applications for NIFA’s Sun Grants program that encourages bioenergy and biomass research collaboration between government agencies, land-grant colleges and universities, and the private sector. Congress authorized the Sun Grant program in the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized the program in 2014. The program provides grants to five grant centers and one subcenter, which then will make competitive grants to projects that contribute to research, education and outreach for the regional production and sustainability of possible biobased feedstocks. The project period will not exceed five years.

GENERcoin to Back Renewable Alternative to Coal

Now this is an interesting concept that I’ve run across – a mix of digital currency with renewable energy. The crypto currency is backed by real Green ENERgy and their product is coined ‘GENERcoin’. The product is being offered through Arterran Renewables and according to the company combines stable value together with economic utility that neither debt-backed or gold-backed currencies offer.

Ok, let’s take a step back. Arterran Renewables is a nextgen biofuel company whose technology converts any waste with a suitable cellulose content into a solid biofuel that can replace coal.  According to the company, the result is a renewable and abundant source of energy that produces significantly more energy than industrial wood pellets, with no off gassing, superior combustion characteristics, and lower handling costs.

“Arterran Renewables is very enthusiastic about the potential from this partnership with members of the crypto currency community. The mutual discovery of the benefits that each of us can offer the world is enormous,” said Arterran’s CEO Lloyd Davis. “Arterran believes both parties have disruptive innovation at the core of our technologies and our innovations will change the World.”

GENERcoinNow back to GENERcoin. The solid biofuel, which is a replacement for coal, is reality thanks in part to GENERcoin, whose currency is in essence backing the technology.

“GENERcoin is simply about one thing: a World with sustainable renewable energy. The world cannot afford to ignore the effects of 150 years of fossil fuel use, nor can it continue down the big energy business as usual path,” said GENERcoin’s lead visionary David Tiessen. “The effects of fossil fuel use will continue to increase the CO2 levels of the planet and negatively affect our climate and the future of thousands of species, including ours.”

“We now have the choice of business as usual and the continued burning of dirty fossil fuels and the polluting of the planet, or renewable and sustainable alternatives like Arterran Renewables,” continued Tiessen. “Mankind now has at our disposal clean, sustainable energy alternatives and Arterran Renewables with their ability to directly replace coal is the latest exciting addition. GENERcoin is the medium to deploy Arterran’s NextGen Renewable Solid Biofuel and we’re excited to get down to the business of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

GENERcoins will be released through a crowdsale taking place on the Master Protocol on June 11, 2014. Each participant will actually be pre-purchasing Arterran’s NextGEN Solid Biofuel at the rate of $0.062 USD per coin, equivalent to 10,000 btu calculated at a significant discount (according to current market prices as reported by Argus Media). Each coin holder then has the option of redeeming their coins for the fuel or exchanging or trading them as they see fit.

Clean Power Plan Should Give Utility Industry a Boost

Earlier this week the EPA announced a legacy proposal that would reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent below 2005 numbers. While much of the response from organizations was positive, may associations believe the proposed Clean Power Plan regulation will harm rural areas, not help.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the reduction in carbon will lead to higher energy prices; but not only would farmers face higher prices for electricity, but any energy-related input such as fertilizer. They also claim rural electric cooperatives that rely on old coal plants for cheap electricity would be hit especially hit hard.

Coal-Fired-Power-Plant“U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won’t stop there,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said. “Effects will especially hit home in rural America.”

Yet according to Lux Research, the Clean Power Plan have noted that while the proposed regulation has spurred furious debate, what is missing from the conversation it the role of innovation. The firm said these rules can help spur innovation that will make it easier for the world to reduce its emissions.

The new EPA rules are unlikely to have a dramatic impact on global emissions on their own, said Lux Research, given that almost all future growth in carbon emissions will come from developing and underdeveloped countries – most notably China, which became the largest carbon emitter in 2007. Hence, much of the debate about the rules has centered on how likely they are to help induce China and other nations to agree to binding targets of their own.

“The political discussion about climate change misses a critical point; whatever their role in climate negotiations, these new rules will accelerate technology development and deployment, making it more practical and affordable for nations everywhere to reduce emissions,” said Aditya Ranade, Senior Analyst at Lux Research. “Their influence on innovation is where they will need to have the biggest impact for the world to achieve its CO2 reduction goals.”

Lux Research analysts predict that four major technology sectors will get a boost: Continue reading

EPA Officially Releases Clean Power Plan Proposal

In what could be an unprecedented move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency has released a proposed plan to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan is the first proposed policy that would cut CO2 from existing power plants – the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. Possible solutions to cutting carbon include integrating renewable power to the grid from sources such as geothermal, solar, wind and bioenergy (biomass or pellets derived from waste).

According to the EPA, power plants account for nearly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Although there are current limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

EPA Gina McCarthy“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants.”

“By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs,” added McCarthy.

Building upon trends already underway to reduce GHG emissions (including carbon) in other industry sectors including the transportation sector (cars, planes, etc.) as well as working along side states who have already put carbon policies in place for their utility sectors, the goal is to create a nationwide plan to cut pollution while make power plants more energy efficient. In addition, the plan fits within the steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and his June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

In 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. By 2030, The Clean Power Plan specifically calls for:

  • Cutting carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
  • Cutting particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoiding up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

Continue reading

U.S. Policy Outlook Featured at World Congress

A special pre-conference workshop has been added to the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology that is taking place May 12-15, 2014 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. “U.S. Policy Outlook: From the RFS to Tax Reform to Farm Bill Implementation – What Lies Ahead for Advanced Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals?” is designed to assess the threats and opportunities on the U.S. federal policy landscape for 2014. Issues discussed will include the Farm Bill, tax reform and potential changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

BIO logo“This robust policy discussion is a great way to start to the world’s largest event on industrial biotechnology. Industrial biotechnology touches all of our lives and changes to these policies could have significant impact the industry’s future growth,” said James Greenwood, President and CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization. “I am pleased to lead a panel of such prominent policy experts in a conversation during a time when the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Farm Bill and tax reform have become top Congressional priorities, the Obama Administration and key federal agencies.”

Pre-conference Workshop on U.S. policy outlook for industrial biotechnology will be moderated by James Greenwood, President & CEO, Biotechnology Industry Organization, with opening remarks from Representative Allyson Schwartz (D), Member of Congress for Pennsylvania’s 13th District and Candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania (invited). Panelists include James Massie, Alpine Group; Ryan Stroschein, Green Capitol LLC; Tim Urban, Washington Council Ernst & Young; and Dr. Matt Carr, Managing Director, BIO.

Brazilian Industrial Biotechnology Association Formed

A group of industrial biotechnology companies have joined forces to form the Brazilian Industrial Biotechnology Association (in Portuguese ABBI – Associação Brasileira de Biotecnologia Industrial). This new association (ABBI) brings together companies and institutions developing and using microorganisms and its derivatives to deliver renewable products for industries and consumers worldwide. ABBI’s primary objective is to foster a dialogue within Brazilian society about the advancements of industrial biotechnology in Brazil. The founding members of ABBI are Amyris, BASF, BioChemtex, BP, Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira, Dow, DSM, DuPont, GranBio, Novozymes, Raízen and Rhodia.

ABBIABBI will promote a dialogue with stakeholders and policymakers to improve Brazil’s biotechnology regulations and update current legislation in light of technological advances of the last several years. The trade association also believes there is room for improvement in Brazil’s patent laws, particularly as they relate to biological products and processes. The group supports additional investments in research and development, capacity and training for skilled and technical labor, and laboratory infrastructure.

“The establishment of ABBI is important for the Brazilian government as this group is reliable partner in the formulation of a coherent positive agenda, with proposals for the advancement of business and technology,” said Luciano Coutinho, President of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), who participated at the event launching ABBI yesterday in São Paulo. BNDES has invested R$1.2 billion (about US$540 million) in biotechnology projects in Brazil.

Brazil is one of most biodiversity rich countries in the world and provides good conditions to utilize industrial biotechnology to make significant gains in productivity and competitiveness. The use of such biotechnology can increase productivity, improve process efficiencies, and reduce waste and pollution in Brazil and beyond. Speaking at the event in Brazil yesterday, Professor Greg Stephanopoulos, of the Bioinformatics & Metabolic Engineering Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that industrial biotechnology would help Brazil take a leadership position in the 21st Century global economy.

EPA Announces People, Prosperity, Planet Winners

Seven winners of the People, Prosperity and Planet (P3) competition were announced as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 10th annual National Sustainable Design Expo recently held in Washington, D.C. The phase II awards are for innovative and sustainable designs created to help solve today’s environmental problems.

USA Science and Engineering Festival“As we mark the 10th year of the National Sustainable Design Expo and P3 competition, we continue to be inspired by the next generation of scientists and engineers shaping the future of our country,” said Bob Perciasepe, U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator. “These students support a vision for the future that encourages a prosperous economy while seeking sustainable and creative solutions to some of the most pressing environmental and health challenges facing our world.”

EPA’s P3 Program challenges student teams to create designs for a sustainable future while offering quality hands-on experience that brings science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classroom learning to life. This year’s winners were selected from 35 competing teams following two days of judging by a panel of national experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Each award-winning team is recommended for a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their design, apply it to real world situations, and bring it to the marketplace.

Winners of this year’s awards are:

  • Cornell University, New York, for designing a low-cost monitor for measuring water quality.
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida, for designing an innovative air conditioning system that runs on solar power.
  • Iowa State University for designing a new kind of fabric made with fibers from bacteria and yeast grown in tea and polymers of corn and soy.
  • Purdue University, Indiana, for researching how to improve indoor air quality by using plants grown in the air filter of a home HVAC system.
  • SUNY Stony Brook, New York, for designing and building Poseidon, an ocean energy harvester that converts wave motion into electrical energy.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for exploring ways to use green oak or “heart centers,” the low-quality part of hardwood logs in U.S. building construction.
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, for implementing a campus recycling program for expanded polystyrene packaging thereby diverting almost 2000 boxes and other polystyrene material from landfills in 6 months of operation.

In addition to the seven winning team, 17 teams were recognized as Honorable Mentions for their project quality inspiring innovation for environmental solutions.