How fluoropolymer makers are trying to hold on to their business

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

As the materials face regulatory fire, producers look to eliminate problematic polymerization aids.

Loliware scores $15.4m to replace single-use plastics with seaweed-based materials

Read the full story from Ag Funder News.

US-based alternative materials startup Loliware has closed a $15.4 million pre-Series A round. The round included participation from L Catterton, Alumni Ventures Group, Blue Bottle Coffee founder Bryan Meehan, and many others. Longtime plastics manufacturer Sinclair and Rush, with whom Loliware has a manufacturing partnership, has also committed capital. Loliware will use the funding to launch single-use plastic alternatives made from its novel seaweed resins.

Public health vs. economic growth: Toxic chemical rules pose test for Biden

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The Biden administration is preparing to impose some of the first new rules in a generation to restrict or ban an array of toxic chemicals that are widely used in manufacturing, presenting the White House with tough choices between its economic agenda and public health.

Many of the substances in question are important to industries that President Biden has backed through other policies intended to bolster global competitiveness and national security, such as semiconductors and electric vehicles.

Corporations are framing the decisions about new regulations for an initial group of toxic chemicals as putting at risk the administration’s drive to nurture the American economy of the future. Environmental and public health groups are stressing the need to focus on protecting workers and communities from substances known to carry health risks, such as cancer, liver and kidney damage and infertility.

A major lobbying clash is already underway. Chip makers, the burgeoning electric vehicle industry and other companies, including military contractors, are pressuring the administration to water down the new rules, saying the repercussions of a ban or new restrictions could be crippling.

Carrots: Good for your eyes … and for degradable polymers

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

Carrots come in a rainbow of bright colors — red, orange, yellow and purplish black — because of compounds called carotenoids. They help support eye health by reacting with potentially harmful UV light. Interestingly, the molecular structures of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, are similar to the building blocks of some polymers. Now, researchers have incorporated a compound derived from beta-carotene into a polymer that’s fully degradable.

DOE releases Industrial Demonstrations funding notice

On Mar. 8, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for approximately $6 billion to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in energy-intensive industrial subsectors through transformational, commercial-scale demonstration projects. This FOA seeks to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of industrial decarbonization approaches to promote widespread technology implementation and help the U.S. lead in low- and net-zero carbon manufacturing. DOE will provide financial assistance through cooperative agreements to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of each project while prioritizing a portfolio of projects that offer deep decarbonization, timeliness, market viability, and community benefits.

Eligible applicants include for-profit organizations and owners or operators of a domestic, non-federal non-power industrial or manufacturing facility engaged in energy intensive industrial processes as stated in the Inflation Reduction Act. These include:

  • iron, steel, & steel mill products
  • aluminum
  • cement
  • concrete
  • glass
  • pulp & paper
  • industrial ceramics
  • chemicals, and
  • other energy intensive industrial processes, including food & beverage manufacturing.

Concept papers are due April 21. Only applicants who have submitted an eligible concept paper will be eligible to submit a full application.

EC approval of hexane alternative methyloxolane a ‘breakthrough’ for ingredient production

Read the full story at Food Navigator Europe.

Although ‘many thought approving a new solvent would be impossible’, the European Parliament and Council have added plant-based solvent methyloxolane to the list of permitted processing aids for the manufacture of food ingredients.

Department of Energy issues Notice of Intent to Fund Applied Research and Development Projects to Drive Industrial Decarbonization

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recently announced its intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that will advance high impact applied research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the U.S. industrial sector. The FOA, led by EERE’s Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO), will drive innovation to develop the next-generation technologies required to decarbonize industry and move the U.S. towards a clean energy economy for all Americans. 

Decarbonizing the industrial sector is critical to achieving the nation’s climate goals. In 2020, the industrial sector accounted for 33% of the nation’s primary energy use and 30% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, the industrial sector is considered one of the most difficult to decarbonize due to the diversity and complexity of energy inputs, processes, and operations. Achieving net-zero emissions across the U.S. economy by 2050 will require an aggressive, multidimensional approach to eliminating industrial emissions.  

This upcoming funding opportunity is part of an integrated, industrial decarbonization technology development strategy for DOE’s basic and applied research offices. Rooted in the principles identified in the 2022 Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap, DOE is building an innovation pipeline to accelerate the development and adoption of industrial decarbonization technologies with investments spanning foundational science; research, development, and demonstrations (RD&D); and technical assistance and workforce development. This FOA will also advance the goal of the Industrial Heat Shot™, which aims to develop cost-competitive industrial heat decarbonization technologies with at least 85% lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.  

Following on from the Roadmap and the funding opportunity released last September, the FOA will focus on cross-sector approaches to industrial decarbonization and is expected to include the following topics: 

Topic 1: Decarbonizing Industrial Heat — In support of DOE’s Industrial Heat Shot™ this topic will focus on developing equipment to decarbonize thermal processes across the industrial sector, with potential areas of interest including: electrification of industrial heat; innovative low- and no-heat processes, and industrial heat pumps. 

Topic 2: Low-Carbon Fuels Utilization RD&D —This topic will focus on innovations to develop equipment capable of utilizing low-carbon fuels, like hydrogen and hydrogen blends, with potential areas of interest including: mitigating hydrogen combustion impacts on material and product quality; developing hydrogen-based combustion systems; and low-carbon input, flexible combined heat and power (CHP). 

Topic 3: Exploratory Cross-Sector R&D will include emerging R&D areas for technologies and materials that enable industrial decarbonization. 

  • Subtopic 3a: Enabling Flexible Industrial Energy Use — This subtopic will focus on emerging transformational technologies that maintain manufacturing resilience and economic competitiveness while integrating renewable energy into industrial manufacturing processes. Potential areas of interest include industrial load flexibility and thermal energy storage systems. 
  • Subtopic 3b: Enhanced Thermal Conductivity Materials —This subtopic, funded by the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO), will focus on enhanced thermal conductivity materials to improve the performance and efficiency of electrified thermal processing equipment. 

Topic 4: Decarbonizing Chemicals — This topic will focus on decarbonization technologies for high-volume chemicals with significant CO2 emissions, including advanced separations processes, advanced reactor systems, and dynamic catalyst science.  

Topic 5: Decarbonizing Iron and Steel —This topic will focus on decarbonization opportunities in iron and steel production, with potential areas of interest including: innovative manufacturing technologies to enable decarbonization; electrification of existing manufacturing processes; overcoming challenges associated with utilizing hydrogen in steelmaking; and addressing scrap contaminants in recycling. 

Topic 6: Decarbonizing Food and Beverage Products — This topic will focus on low- and zero-carbon solutions for process heating, cooling, and refrigeration in a wide variety of energy-intensive food and beverage operations. 

Topic 7: Decarbonizing Cement and Concrete — This topic will focus on addressing cement’s direct process emissions, with potential areas of interest including: sustainably sourced supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) for clinker substitutions and blended cements; novel decarbonized production processes for Portland cement or lime; novel, low-carbon non-ordinary Portland cement formulations; and CO2 mineralization. 

Topic 8: Decarbonizing Forest Products — This topic will focus on decarbonization opportunities in energy-intensive drying, paper forming, and pulping processes. 

View the full notice of intent.

EERE plans to issue the FOA via EERE Exchange in March 2023. The funding opportunity is expected to include approximately $156 million in federal funding. EERE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cooperative agreements. The estimated period of performance for each award will be approximately three years. 

Laying the groundwork for the bioeconomy

Read the full post from the Federation of American Scientists.

Over the past year, there have been significant policy advances related to the US bioeconomy—the part of the economy driven by the life sciences and biotech, and enabled by engineering, computing, and information science. The bioeconomy includes a wide range of products and processes, from mRNA vaccines and drought-resistant crops to microbial fertilizers and bioindustrial fermentation. Rapid advances in biotechnology tools and capabilities have expanded the possibilities for bio-based products, and the U.S. government is looking for ways that it can best support this burgeoning sector of the economy. In addition to several reports and recommendations from outside experts and committees, action within federal government agencies has been spurred by the September 2022 Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy (EO 14081) and by the CHIPS and Science Act signed into law in August 2022. 

Two key areas of discussion for federal government policy on the bioeconomy are:

  1. Measurement and Language: How should the U.S. government quantify, measure, and track the size and shape of the bioeconomy? What “counts” as part of the bioeconomy?
  2. Financial and Economic Tools: How can government funding be most effective at seeding long-term growth in the bioeconomy? What criteria should be used to prioritize?

To generate ideas and support discussion related to bioeconomy policy, FAS hosted two half-day, multi-stakeholder, discussion-based workshops on December 5 and December 7, 2022, focused on these topics. Each workshop included representatives and experts from academia, industry, non-governmental organizations, and the U.S. government.

Turning food waste into biodegradable bioplastics

Read the full story from Virginia Tech.

Researchers in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received a $2.4 million USDA grant to create affordable bioplastics and reduce plastic waste remaining both on land and in the sea.

Integrating a Chemicals Perspective into the Global Plastic Treaty

Zhanyun Wang and Antonia Praetorius (2022). “Integrating a Chemicals Perspective into the Global Plastic Treaty”. Environmental Science & Technology Letters 9(12), 1000-1006 DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.2c00763

Abstract: Driven by the growing concern about plastic pollution, countries have agreed to establish a global plastic treaty addressing the full life cycle of plastics. However, while plastics are complex materials consisting of mixtures of chemicals such as additives, processing aids, and nonintentionally added substances, it is at risk that the chemical aspects of plastics may be overlooked in the forthcoming treaty. This is highly concerning because a large variety of over 10,000 chemical substances may have been used in plastic production, and many of them are known to be hazardous to human health and the environment. In this Global Perspective, we further highlight an additional, generally overlooked, but critical aspect that many chemicals in plastics hamper the technological solutions envisioned to solve some of the major plastic issues: mechanical recycling, waste-to-energy, chemical recycling, biobased plastics, biodegradable plastics, and durable plastics. Building on existing success stories, we outline three concrete recommendations on how the chemical aspects can be integrated into the global plastic treaty to ensure its effectiveness: (1) reducing the complexity of chemicals in plastics, (2) ensuring the transparency of chemicals in plastics, and (3) aligning the right incentives for a systematic transition.