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Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog

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According to the UN Environment Programme, switching to energy efficient lighting could be one of the most significant short-term initiatives to counter climate change1. In addition, it would save everyone a lot of money. In the US alone, the switch to energy efficient lighting could save $19.8 billion dollars annually, reduce electrical consumption for lighting by 36.6%, and reduce CO2 emissions by 111.8 million tons per year.


One of the best energy efficient lighting technologies on the market is the Light Emitting Diode, commonly known as LED lamps. LEDs outshines their closest competitor, the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), on longevity and brightness. They are also more environmentally friendly than the CFLs since they do not contain mercury, which has become a landfill and recycling problem. The one drawback of LEDs is that they emit a harsh light that is unpleasant to the eye. This is where Seth Coe-Sullivan's company, QD Vision, comes in.


Seth Coe-Sullivan, who will be one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in June, is an engineer, nanotech entrepreneur, and proponent of green chemistry. After receiving his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at MIT, Coe-Sullivan founded a company with four colleagues based on his research into the properties of quantum dots. In his words, "Quantum dots (QDs) are a new class of materials designed on the nanoscale, where we use quantum mechanics to change the color of the material without changing the chemical composition of the material." Today QDs are used in Sony LCD televisions, which help Sony deliver superior color quality and have a beneficial environmental impact. "We can deliver light where the human eye wants it more efficiently than any other material, and so TVs with high color quality can consume less power, and hence reduce the net environmental carbon, heavy metals, and electricity consumption of TVs, which are otherwise consuming more and more of the typical home's power budget," says Coe-Sullivan.


In the future, this technology could be used to modify the light of LED light bulbs too, to make these environmental champions pleasing to the eye. Here is how it works:



Coe-Sullivan is a strong proponent of nanotechnology's potential for positive impact on the environment through innovation. He sees an opportunity in the emergence of nanomaterials to "become a living case study" showing us "that our society doesn't have to wait for an environmental disaster to begin a science-based regulatory process that enables us to benefit from new materials without having the sometimes associated negative impacts." Others share this proactive view, and have identified the need for research into the unique nature of nanomaterials to inform policies, procedures, and the development of greener nanotechnology. At QD Vision, Coe-Sullivan established a strong Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) policy which  led to a focus on greening the product.


"My interest in the EH&S impacts of nanotech stem from the first time my company was hiring people not otherwise involved in the field.  In putting them in the lab developing these materials, we had to be sure that we weren't putting them into harm's way. From occupational safety, it was a natural continuum to start looking at the product safety and environmental safety aspects of our materials and products, so that we could develop them in a responsible manner and design safer products. The green chemistry actions were an even easier fit, where making our chemistry green also meant making our costs lower and our material efficiencies higher. We had a green chemistry program before any of us knew to use the words."


QD Vision is now nine years old and Coe-Sullivan is confident in the company’s progress: "QD Vision has launched Color IQ, a line of optical component products that are currently in TVs, and are being designed into displays of all types from 17" and up. The big opportunity for QDs in displays is to transition from a high-end feature into the mainstream of the market, from TVs to tablets." Indeed, this is a big market. According to Global Industry Analysts, the market for flat panel displays is expected to reach $110 billion by 2017. We look forward to hearing more from Dr. Coe-Sullivan at the 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 17-19, 2914 in the Washington DC area. Find out more at http://www.gcande.org.


1United Nations Environment Programme (2012). Achieving the global transition to energy efficient lighting toolkit. Accessed March 24, 2014: http://www.thegef.org/gef/sites/thegef.org/files/publication/Complete%20Enlighte nToolkit_1.pdf



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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A waste product from making paper could yield a safer, greener alternative to the potentially harmful chemical BPA, now banned from baby bottles but still used in many plastics. Scientists made the BPA alternative from lignin, the compound that gives wood its strength, and they say it could be ready for the market within five years.


They described the research here today in one of the more than 10,000 presentations at the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, taking place here through Thursday.


"Approximately 3.5 million tons of BPA are produced annually worldwide," said Kaleigh Reno, a graduate student who presented the report. BPA is the component that gives shatter-proof plastic eyewear and sports equipment their strength.  Additionally, BPA is used in high-performance glues, in the lining of cans and in receipt paper, she explained. The downside is that bisphenol-A, as it’s called, can mimic the hormone estrogen, potentially affecting the body and brain. Some experts have suggested that it’s unsafe for young children and pregnant women to consume.


To find a safer, more environmentally friendly alternative, Reno and her advisor, Richard Wool, Ph.D., who are at the University of Delaware, turned to lignin. They note that papermaking and other wood-pulping processes produce 70 million tons of lignin byproduct each year, 98 percent of which is incinerated to generate small amounts of energy.


Reno has developed a process that instead converts lignin fragments into a compound called bisguaiacol-F (BGF), which has a similar shape to BPA. She and Wool predict it will act like BPA, as well. "We expect to show that BGF has BPA-like properties within a year," said Wool, with a product ready for the market two to five years later.


Reno is confident that BGF will be a safe stand-in for BPA. "We know the molecular structure of BPA plays a large role in disrupting our natural hormones, specifically estrogen," she said. "We used this knowledge in designing BGF such that it is incapable of interfering with hormones but retains the desirable thermal and mechanical properties of BPA." The researchers also used U.S. Environmental Protection Agency software to evaluate the molecule, determining it should be less toxic than BPA.


And because BGF is made from an existing waste product, Reno believes it will be a viable alternative economically and environmentally. BPA is manufactured from compounds found in oil, a fossil fuel, while BGF’s feedstock, lignin, comes from trees, a renewable resource.


The researchers chose BGF based on their unique "Twinkling Fractal Theory," which Wool explains can predict mechanical and thermal properties. "This approach considerably simplifies the design of new biobased materials since we can predetermine properties and screen for toxicity for a broad range of potential compounds from renewable resources such as lignin and plant oils," he says.


The researchers acknowledge funding from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory via a DoD-SERDP grant.


This research was presented at the Spring American Chemical Society National Meeting in Dallas, Texas, March 16, 2014.


From the ACS Office of Public Affairs



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Contributed by Dr. Masha Petrova, MVP Consulting Solutions, LLC


What exactly is a "Biopolymer"? Is your definition of this term the same as that of your colleague down the hall? "Biopolymer" is a relatively new term currently used to describe everything from biodegradable plastic bottles, to bags made out of corn, to biocompatible parts used in knee replacement surgeries, to proteins.


As the marketing trend for all things “green” continues to climb, it seems that everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown into the “biopolymers” bucket. To further complicate things, biopolymer products span a variety of seemingly unrelated industries, such as commodities (e.g. packaging, containers and additives), medical applications (e.g. drug casings and prosthetics) and food applications (sugar and starch are in fact biopolymers).


So what is the “correct” definition of a biopolymer?  Wikipedia will have you believe that a biopolymer is a type of polymer produced by living organisms, in other words a macromolecule produced in nature. While that statement is technically correct, this is only a part of the definition. According to Dr. Pat Smith, a Sci-MindTM expert and a research scientist at the Michigan Molecular Institute, some describe biopolymers not only as materials of a "green birth" but polymers with a "green death" as well. In addition to the bio-derived definition, a polymer is considered to be a "biopolymer" if it is said to be biodegradable according to international standards on biodegradability (which, by the way, are also ever-changing). This means that a biodegradable polymer material created solely from fossil fuel feedstocks may, in fact, be described as a "biopolymer".


Which means that a bottle made 100% from corn starch but that happens not to be biodegradable (and might sit in a landfill for decades) and a bottle that is made from fossil fuel feedstock but biodegrades under similar conditions - are both "biopolymer" products. So which biopolymer side is "greener"?


Dr. Smith has seen his share of biopolymer companies emerge, merge, and disappear. He was involved in the Cargill Dow joint venture that launched NatureWorksTM poly(lactic acid) and in the Metabolix joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland which attempted to commercialize polyhydroxyalkanoates. Dr. Smith has a message for the biopolymer industry: "Stop wasting money trying to create novel commodity polymers from bio-sources, but instead, focus on synthesizing traditional and well-established polymer materials from bio-based monomers."


According to Dr. Smith, developing the market for new polymer materials is significantly more difficult than inventing the technology to produce them. Monomers for conventional polymers like poly(ethylene), poly(acrylic acid) and poly(ethyleneterephthalate) can be derived from bio-sources and already have a commercial outlet. They simply need to meet price and purity metrics to succeed. This latter strategy is well defined and is faster to the market.


In contrast, Dr. Richard Gross, a Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Sci-MindTM expert, believes that both routes are potentially viable and have their own challenges. For example, developing conventional monomers from biobased feedstock has been slower than anticipated due to the challenge of competing strictly on cost at equivalent performance. Dr. Gross believes there is plenty of room for new innovations by using the functionality inherent in biobased feedstock to develop new materials.


While the commodities industry might be concerned with high yields and low cost-per-unit, the situation could not be more different for the medical industry research. Professor Sujata Bhatia, the assistant director for undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering at Harvard and a Sci-MindTM expert, works with students to develop naturally-derived biopolymers for medical applications in wound healing, drug delivery, and tissue regeneration.


Dr. Bhatia says that for biomedical applications, where many materials are custom-tailored for a handful of patients, the cost-per-unit is not much of a concern. However, the biocompatibility and specialized properties of a particular material certainly are.


Not only do biopolymers have such varying roles in different industries, but with evolving globalization of economy and research, paying attention to how biomaterials are positioned around the world is becoming more relevant.


Dr. Bhatia's advice to professionals working in the medical field concerns globalization issues: "We need to recognize that countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America have something unique to contribute to biomedical materials. Because these countries have diverse and abundant agricultural materials, they can develop biopolymers and participate in the biomedical revolution in ways that were not previously possible."


No matter in what line of work you might come in contact with biopolymers, one thing always remains constant– the importance of solid knowledge of fundamental science. Dr. Tim Long, a professor of Polymer Chemistry at Virginia Tech and a Sci-MindTM expert, knows the significance of understanding the basics. His work involves integrating fundamental research in novel macromolecular structure and polymerization processes for development of high performance macromolecules. According to Prof. Long, a good knowledge of fundamental science is essential for anyone interested in bio-derived, biocompatible or biodegradable polymers.


For those working in biopolymers, that knowledge becomes even more diverse for the "bio" counterparts of the polymer molecules. According Dr. Gross, aside from the basics of polymers science, one must be familiar with biochemical processes, such as fermentation and bio-catalysis. Dr. Gross is currently working on routes to monomer and biopolymers using cell-free and whole-cell biocatalysts. He also is an avid proponent of combining chemical and biocatalytic steps in biopolymer process development.


"The synthesis of biopolymers via biocatalytic routes requires an understanding of how cells are engineered to produce different chemicals, the properties of enzymes that are important catalysts for cell-free processes, and an understanding of fundamental principles in cell biology and biochemistry. It's critical that scientists interested in biopolymers learn the language of biocatalysis since biocatalytic processes are fundamentally important to many developments in the general area of biopolymers," says Dr. Gross.


The rapidly growing field of biopolymers is indeed exciting and diverse. In order to assure that researchers and industry professionals can stay up-to-date on the latest research trends, science fundamentals, regulations, and real-world case studies in order to be able to answer questions like those presented above, the American Chemical Society has created Sci-MindTM Biopolymers – a community based, online learning curriculum for industry professionals. This article highlights the knowledge of just a few of the experts involved in ACS Sci-MindTM Biopolymers program launching on April 7th.


Can't get enough of Biopolymers? Sign-up for the next cohort launching April 7th here:





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As part of this year’s Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® is holding the only business plan competition exclusively devoted to green and sustainable chemistry and engineering.


Early stage, pre-revenue companies who are reimagining chemistry and innovating for a sustainable future, are encouraged to apply with a short Executive Summary of their green business idea. The judges will be looking for possible solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges like our dependence on critical elements in chemical processes, transforming renewable or waste feedstocks into valuable chemicals, reducing hazardous chemical inputs in products and processes, and minimizing energy use and emissions.


Participants will gain the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship throughout the entire competition, which is being led by an expert organizing committee:

  • Dr. Dan Daly—Director of Alabama Innovation & Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Center
  • Dr. Michael Lefenfeld—President & CTO of SiGNa Chemistry, Inc.
  • Dr. Rui Resendes—Executive Director of Green Centre Canada


Semi-finalists who are accepted to compete, will develop a full business plan with help from a free subscription to Business Plan Pro and a How-To Webinar led by Dr. Dan Daly. In addition to the chance to win tens of thousands of dollars in prize money, the competition provides access to intellectual property law experts, and early stage investors who are involved in green and sustainable chemistry.


Don’t miss this opportunity to receive business plan training and high-end constructive comments, and to make valuable business connections. And of course, win BIG money.


Applications are due April 25, 2014 5:00 p.m. EDT (GMT -4)



All semi-finalists are expected to submit a full business plan for Round Two judging, which will take place on-site at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in the Washington, DC area on June 18, 2014.


The 2012 competition, sponsored by Preferred Sands, Cabot, Stream, K & L Gates, and SiGNa Chemistry Inc., awarded Sue Wang with Ancatt Inc. a $40,000 cash prize for their business plan ‘The Next Generation of Anti-Corrosion Coating Technologies’. AnCatt Inc. discovered and is developing a unique environmentally compatible high performance anti-corrosion coating platform technology utilizing novel conductive polymer nanodispersion (CPND) as anti-corrosion pigments instead of traditional toxic heavy-metal pigments such as chromate, lead, cadmium.  SafeLiCell, represented by University of Maryland undergraduate Mian Khalid, was presented with a $10,000 cash prize for their plan Safe and Powerful Battery Solutions. SafeLiCell has developed a novel, patent-pending battery electrolyte material, called Lithium Flex, that provides for a lighter, safer, and flexible lithium based energy source.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Concern for our planet and its well being is forcing us to think about greener, more sustainable processes to make the things we need and want, such as new technologies, fuels and drugs.


During the 1990s many industries began to earnestly adopt green chemistry and other sustainable practices. Forward-looking companies realized that the practice of green chemistry not only leads to environmental benefits, but also economic and social benefits.


Today, many strides continue to be made not only by companies, but by researchers and academics, whom are incorporating more green practices in their labs and academic curriculums in an effort to inspire the next generation of individuals entering the chemical marketplace.


Indeed, there is much going on in raising important awareness of green practices throughout academic labs, research centers and corporations alike. These are the stories we want to hear about.


Right now, ACS GCI is at ACS’ spring 2014 National Meeting and Expo, March 16-20, 2014, in Dallas, Texas. We are hosting a bulletin board at its booth #1323 (next to the main ACS booth) to engage attendees in sharing their green practice stories.


Our mission is simple: we believe that innovation in sustainable and green chemistry and engineering (GC&E) is vital to solving many environmental and human health issues. We want to catalyze and enable the implementation of GC&E throughout the global chemical enterprise. We focus on three strategic areas, 1) Advancing scientific research and innovation for sustainability, 2) Advocating progress in education and communicating the science of green chemistry, and 3) Accelerating the industrial adoption of GC&E. Through our Industrial Roundtables, annual GC&E conference (gcande.org), and educational resources, ACS GCI empowers the sector to reimagine a sustainable future.


In an effort to further spotlight our core mission, our “What’s Your Green Chemistry?”TM campaign is designed to showcase the diverse work and practices being adopted across our sector, so we can further raise public awareness on the importance of adopting green practices. We want to engage a larger audience and we need your help to make that happen.


We invite you to come and share your stories with us, describing how you are incorporating green practices in your labs and why you think it is important. At our booth, you will have the opportunity to write out a short paragraph that showcases your most “green” practice. We will post it on our bulletin board and promote it through our Twitter handle and other communication platforms. It is our goal that the stories shared not only reinforce the importance of adopting sound green practices, but also inspire others to follow suit.


So stop by our booth 1323, share your stories and be eligible to win a chemistry textbook! Follow us on Twitter and keep an eye out for the campaign conversation occurring with #mygreenchem.


We look forward to seeing you next week!


ACS GCI booth 1323
Dallas Convention Center
Sunday: 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Monday and Tuesday: 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Twitter: @ACSGCI
#mygreenchem, #ACSDallas



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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Demand is high for metals, which are being extracted at increasing rates and can have poor end-of-life recycling rates. We depend on these critical elements every day but rarely do we realize what is required to get them from the mine to chemical company to customer to landfill, and how this impacts our planet and society. In order to depict the life cycle and effects of these critical elements, we are seeking stunning and thought provoking images.


How do we use on these metals? And what are the impacts?

What does a gold mine look like? From space?

Where does e-waste end up?

Who are the miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

How do the impacts differ between abundant and precious metals?

What does a biocatalyst look like? What are other green chemistry solutions?


Send us your high-resolution image(s) for consideration. In addition to being displayed at the 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Washington, DC June 18-20, these images will be on display at our first-ever Science & Society event, “Endangered Elements,”  at the ACS national headquarters in Washington, DC on Monday, June 16, 2014.


Submit all photos to gci@acs.org with “Call for Photos” in the subject line by April 30, 2014. Please name your photo files by First and Last Name, Appellation, Photo Title (i.e., Jane Smith, Company/Org, Title.jpg). Files should be saved as jpegs.


Please note that by submitting these materials, you are representing that you hold all original copyrights to the materials submitted or that you have obtained written permission from the copyright owner to submit these materials; (ii) representing that the materials submitted do not infringe on the copyrights, trademarks, moral rights, rights of privacy/publicity, or other intellectual property or proprietary rights of any third party; (iii) granting the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) and its media partners a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, transferable, royalty free right and license to copy, reproduce, perform, display, prepare derivative works from, and distribute publicly all of your submitted materials in both print and digital format and in any other media format (now known or hereafter invented) for any purpose whatsoever; and (iv) agreeing to indemnify and hold ACS GCI and its officers, directors, and employees harmless from and against any losses, liabilities,  claims, damages and expenses (including reasonable attorney fees and expenses) that ACS GCI  incurs by reason of or arising out of a breach of any of your representations, ACS GCI's use of  your submitted materials and/or your license grant.  ACS GCI will accept digital images only.  Submission does not guarantee use/placement, and ACS GCI reserves the right to discontinue use of your submitted materials at any time.



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I've started reading a book called “Countdown” with the subtitle “Our last, best hope for a future on earth?” by Alan Weisman. It is a sequel to Weisman's book “The World Without Us,” where the “Us” is people. Where “The World Without Us” describes how earth would rebound without humans, “Countdown” is the story about the inexorable increase in human population and the many effects that population doubling brings to the world. I think anyone who reads “Countdown” is likely to walk away with a range of emotions that range from disbelief to depression.


Some wouldn't even read the book because it is outside their area of interest and they have no reason to care about it.


Others who read the book will resist the central tenets of the book and will point out a myriad of ways in which technology will find a solution or they think the problem is not really a problem. Years ago I learned that this particular way of viewing things was termed “naïve technological optimism.” I would argue that a large number of people in the science and engineering community fall into this camp.  I have heard things like “Science will triumph and all we need is a little more money for research.” I can only wish that this group of individuals could travel (in the most sustainable fashion possible) to any developing nation, and many large cities in developed nations, to witness firsthand what the author is describing and live as the locals do. That might temper their optimism a bit.


Another group of people are likely to be depressed by what they read as the book chronicles population growth, the state of the environment, our struggle to feed ourselves, and our fight over potable water, among other topics. They will feel impotent and disaffected, unsure that they can do anything that would make a difference and unwilling to try. They would say “What’s the point? I’m just one person, and I can’t change the world.” I can empathize with the depression, but I would argue that change happens with one person at a time making different choices. Personal actions do matter.


Still others would likely say that these are symptoms of political and economic mismanagement and all we need do is find the right political and economic systems to address these problems. It’s not science that will find an answer, there’s more than enough space on the earth to expand into, and we just need to do a better job at distributing resources.  While there are some things in this point of view that are true, I would argue that this group does not have a good understanding of thermodynamics, the limits of sustainability, and the simple mathematics of population doubling.


So what does all this have to do with sustainable and green chemistry?  In my mind, the kinds of emotional reactions I have outlined above are very similar to reactions and conversations I've had with many people over the years about sustainable and green chemistry.  People have a range of emotional reactions to it and I have found it very difficult to move them off their initial reaction.


So you know where I stand, I think chemistry and chemical engineering are absolutely fundamental to life as we know it.  That means life as it is now, with all its opportunities and looming problems as it is chronicled in a book like “Countdown.”  Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, I’d like to encourage you to always be thinking about how you can do the chemistry and engineering you do in a more sustainable and green way.  There really is no reason for you not to do so, and every reason for you to do so.  I just think we are rapidly running out of time to say that it’s optional.  You may not agree, but what do you have to lose?  You might just gain a better world for our children’s, children’s, children…..of all species.


As always, let me know what you think.




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Growing, processing, and dyeing fabric is a huge global industry (over $70 billion in the U.S. alone)—and one with a significant environmental footprint. Most people don’t know much about the how our clothes—made of all kinds of materials and colored with all shades of color—are produced. Dyeing cotton, for example, is an expensive, time consuming process which generally requires large amounts of salt, alkali, water and energy. The waste water from dyeing is highly polluted with salt and excess dye, both of which are difficult to remove from the effluent. In addition, most dyes and many fabrics are derived from petroleum-based sources and are not easily recyclable. In essence, fabric, something that touches us all (no pun intended) is ripe for the kind of innovation that green chemistry and engineering drives.


One of the pioneers in this effort is Dr. Richard Blackburn, who heads up the Advanced Textiles Programme at University of Leeds. His research interests cover natural dye extraction, sustainable dyeing processes, and sustainable fibers. Blackburn will be giving a keynote address at the upcoming 18th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference (gcande.org) this June 17-19, in the Washington DC metro area.


richard_blackburn_324x198.jpgIn the late 1990s, Dr. Blackburn was a Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds when he became interested in how to make dyeing processes more environmentally friendly. The book Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice had just been published, and the concept of reducing waste and energy use through chemistry made a lot of sense to him. When Dr. Blackburn joined the faculty of Leeds Centre for Technical Textiles in 2000, sustainability research in textiles was virtually unheard of. So Dr. Blackburn put together a Green Chemistry Group (now Sustainable Materials Research Group) and started off on a broad course of sustainability research.


One of his early research topics addressed the currently waste-intensive methods of dyeing cotton. Dr. Blackburn was able to develop a new chemical process that doesn't require as much salt or alkali, nor the time and energy that goes with it. Another area of research was on the properties of polylactic acid (PLA) as a replacement for synthetic polyester. PLA is polyester made from 100% renewable sources and is completely compostable. Dr. Blackburn also worked on a novel process for coloring polymers that completely sidesteps wet-processing entirely and has the potential to save time, money, and resources in the coloring of fabrics.


In 2006, Dr. Blackburn decided to organize a conference, "Green Chemistry in Textiles,"  to bring together industry members and researchers exploring innovative greener approaches. This was the first conference of its kind, and they were expecting around 50 participants—210 showed up. Building on the interest generated, Blackburn teamed up with John Mowbray, of Ecotextile News, Phil Patterson, currently the managing director of Colour Connections Textile Consultancy, and others to establish a non-profit called the RITE group (Reducing the Impact of Textiles on the Environment). Formed to educate the textile industry on what sustainability means and looks like, the RITE Group held well-attended annual conferences from 2007 to 2012 in London. "A lot of the perception in the industry is that things that are clean and more sustainable are more expensive," notes Dr. Blackburn. "Of course there are economies of scale, but if you think about it purely theoretically; if you are making a garment using less energy, less water, less waste, surely that is more economically feasible. Surely that should actually be cheaper." Achieving this in textiles, with a global supply chain that is often lacking in transparency, is difficult and at times slow, but certainly what many in the industry are reaching for.


Lately however, Dr. Blackburn is putting more of his attention on the next generation. "I think the most important thing is that the people going into the industry in the future understand sustainability properly, rather than just trying to educate the people who are already there," says Dr. Blackburn. He explains that many U.K. students don’t think of textile engineering as a career opportunity. There is a perception that textiles is an old fashioned industry that has mostly moved out of Europe—However they are interested in textile design. Dr. Blackburn’s mission is to help the best of these students recognize the scientific career opportunities in textiles and convert them to a chemistry-based Ph.D. program. "One of the things I’m most keen on, is trying to get designers to think about sustainability and the full supply chain," emphasizes Dr. Blackburn. "If the designer understands it, they can build in aspects of sustainability—be it in relation to materials use, processes that are used, or what happens at the end of life. If they just design it to look nice, they won’t ever consider sustainability."


Dr. Blackburn’s current research includes investigating the possibility of extracting natural dyes or building blocks chemicals from food waste. Natural dyes went out of fashion in the mid to late 1800s, as petroleum based replacements took the market. Lately however, there is more interest in natural products, yet growing plants for dyes has its own drawbacks—namely, in acreage needed and expense. Recovering dyes from organic waste, however, is an exciting avenue of research.


We look forward to hearing more from Dr. Blackburn at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. In addition to Dr. Blackburn’s keynote, there will be many sessions designed for people advancing green innovation in the apparel and footwear industry at the conference this year. Find out more at http://www.gcande.org.


“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

While the debate over using crops for fuel continues, scientists are now reporting a new, fast approach to develop biofuel in a way that doesn't require removing valuable farmland from the food production chain. Their work examining the fuel-producing potential of Streptomyces, a soil bacterium known for making antibiotics, appears in ACS's The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. The method also could help researchers identify other microbes that could be novel potential fuel sources.


biodesiel.jpgAriane Deniset-Besseau and colleagues point out that with the rise in oil prices in recent years, the search has been on for alternative fuels. Though plants such as soy and corn have been popular, the honeymoon ended as people realized how much arable land they were taking up. So now, researchers are seeking additional sources, including bacteria. Streptomyces has become a candidate in this search. It can make and store large amounts of oils called triacylglycerols (TAGs), which are direct precursors of biodiesel. Also, manufacturers already know how to grow vast amounts of it because pharmaceutical companies use the versatile bacterium to produce life-saving antibiotics. To better understand these microbes' potential as a fuel source, Deniset-Besseu's team wanted to explore how Streptomyces stores TAGs.


They used a novel laboratory instrument that combines an atomic force microscope with a tunable infrared laser source. This instrument allows researchers to determine how and where the bacteria store TAGs. Some strains hardly accumulate any oil, whereas others stored large amounts of oil in a way that might be easy to harvest. The researchers conclude that their technique could greatly speed up the identification of other microbes that could produce large amounts of bio-oil.


Read the full abstract, "Monitoring TriAcylGlycerols Accumulation by Atomic Force Microscopy Based Infrared Spectroscopy in Streptomyces Species for Biodiesel Applications."


From the ACS Office of Public Affairs



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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Every year, starting in 1996, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® hosts the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, bringing together scientists, engineers, government and business leaders from around the world under a common vision of a brighter, smarter, and more sustainable future. The men and women who attend the conference are asking the right questions, and sharing their progress towards answering them through research presentations, case studies, and discussions.


Each conference is shaped by a dedicated group of volunteers who put together the technical program and inform the overarching theme. This year’s conference co-chairs are Jim Hutchison, University of Oregon; John Frazier, Nike, Inc.; and Tina Bahadori, U.S. EPA. They are working closely with the organizing committee on a program that explores the theme, “Advancing Chemistry, Innovating for Sustainability”.



What is New This Year


The 18th annual conference will explore new areas as well continue to develop important themes. As Professor Jim Hutchison explains, “This year we are planning multisession tracks or themes that tackle the tough issues in green chemistry and engineering. These tracks will span the range from the big picture challenges and opportunities to detailed technical presentations. Each track is being carefully crafted to address major societal and industrial opportunities and challenges, including critical materials, alternative feedstocks and sustainable molecular-level design. In addition to high-quality technical content, panels and events are being planned to ensure that the conference is highly interactive."


Themes to be explored include:

  • Greening chemical processes, products, and supply chains
  • Rational chemical design and alternatives assessment
  • Critical materials in research and development
  • Integrating green chemistry into the classroom, and beyond
  • Materials innovation for sustainable apparel and footwear
  • Green chemistry policy initiatives
  • And more

The Call for Papers is now open, and submissions will be accepted through February 28, 2014.

If you are interested in contributing your part to GC&E by presenting a paper, or would like to see a full description of topics to be covered, visit the technical track program page at this year’s conference website.

Workshops, Events, and Special Sessions

  • GC&E Business Plan Competition: We will be holding a business plan competition for green chemistry/engineering entrepreneurs, with finalists presenting their business plans at the conference. The application process will be announced soon. Find out more.
  • GC&E Student Workshop: Not to be missed by any student attending the conference, this full-day free workshop will be held June 16, 2014 at the ACS headquarters in Washington, DC. Find out more.
  • LAUNCH Workshop: A partnership between NASA, Nike, the U.S. Department of State, and USAID, brings us the LAUNCH System Challenge which will focus on green chemistry in 2014. Explore why a systems innovation approach is key to accelerating funding for and adoption of green chemistry and why green chemistry is critical to innovating the systems of materials and manufacturing that we rely on.
  • ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy: A special track will showcase the research and education innovations of 10 years of graduates of the Summer School from all over North and South America.
  • Monday Night Special Event on Critical Elements: All conference attendees are invited to join us on Monday night, June 16, 2014 for a look into the life cycle of critical elements mixing science, art, and society. Stay tuned for more details.
  • ACS Careers Workshop: A special four-hour workshop presented by the ACS Careers team will explore career pathways and job trends, and practical information to propel one’s job search. Find out more.

“We invite you to join us in a transformative discussion about reimagining chemistry and building the foundation for our future!”—Tina Bahadori, 2014 GC&E co-chair.

Take advantage of early registration and save up to fifteen percent. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us at gceconferences@acs.org. We look forward to hearing from you!


“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Are you a graduate or undergraduate student?
Are you interested in how you can apply green chemistry to your research, lab, or thesis?


With constant news like catalysis breakthroughs and multinational chemical firms transitioning from carbon-intensive petroleum to renewable feedstocks, it is clear that green chemistry is the central science to enable a more sustainable world.  As conventional reagents and key elements become increasingly scarce and costly, it is crucial that young chemists and engineers understand how to make their research greener.


To help meet this need the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® is offering a full-day workshop where current graduate and undergraduate students can learn and practice how to evaluate the impact of chemicals and syntheses, and practice determining the greenest options. Most importantly, participating students have the opportunity to assess their own research with synthetic, analytical, and process experts. Throughout the day students will apply the ideas and tools learned in the workshop to their thesis, undergraduate lab, or even a class lab. Join us to learn how to apply green chemistry and engineering principles in the lab today and create more sustainable solutions for tomorrow!


Date: March 18, 2014
Time: 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Cost: $50.00
*Lunch provided!

Undergraduate and graduate students attending the ACS National Meeting can apply to the workshop by sending a completed application to gci@acs.org with “Greening Your Research” as the subject. Space is limited, so be sure to send your application by February 28, 2014!

And if you are not yet registered for the National Meeting, you can register here. Take advantage of the early bird discount before February 6th!




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

13th Annual Green Chemistry in Education Workshop
July 12-17, 2014 – University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

The Green Chemistry in Education Workshop is a five-day workshop for educators in the chemical sciences interested in incorporating green or sustainable chemistry concepts into the organic chemistry curriculum and laboratory.The primary goals for this workshop are to increase the number of educators who incorporate green chemistry experiments and concepts into their teaching and establish a network of chemical educators who promote green chemistry.


The workshop is a combination of lectures, discussion, and hands-on time in the laboratory. Leaders in the field will address the need for green chemistry in the undergraduate curriculum and provide strategies for designing, adapting and incorporating new green experiments into existing organic chemistry curricula. During the laboratory sessions, participants will have an opportunity to perform and evaluate greener organic laboratory experiments developed at the University of Oregon and elsewhere. Past participants from the workshop will be present to share their experiences infusing green chemistry into their courses and on developing new green chemistry materials. Participants are encouraged to share and refine their own plans for integrating green chemistry at their institution. Preference is given to applicants who focus on organic chemistry laboratory and who have the potential to significantly impact students, colleagues and the community. To apply go to:http://www.ccwcs.org/content/green-chemistry




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® administers two student awards each year that recognize and support young chemists and engineers interested in green chemistry and engineering. Applications for both awards are due on February 1, 2014. Apply today for these awards and take your education to the next level.


Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship

The Breen award sponsors young international scholars to participate in a green chemistry technical meeting, conference, or training program. The award covers travel and registration expenses up to $2,000.


Find out more & apply to the Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship


Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award

The Hancock award of $1,000 is presented annually at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, and recognizes student contributions to the advancement of green chemistry research or education. The award is open to any undergraduate through graduate level student, regardless of country of origin or place of study. Find out more & apply to the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award


If you know of chemistry students who might be interested in applying for these awards, please share this post with them.


For details, please visit the ACS GCI awards page or email gci@acs.org.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

It has been a year now since I've started working at the ACS GCI and I’m not quite sure how the days accumulated into weeks and months that passed so quickly. I’m also not sure how we managed to accomplish so much but I think it has to do with having an amazing staff here in Washington and an amazing number of talented and committed people who have made so many contributions to green chemistry and engineering throughout the year. I have no doubt that the rapid pace and the many opportunities to move things forward will continue.


So what's ahead? There are the usual events like the Spring and Fall National ACS meetings where you will find green chemistry and engineering-related sessions sprinkled across many divisions. It's pretty exciting to see all the content and I hope that many of you will be able to participate. At the Spring meeting in Dallas we are working on a workshop for students to help them apply green chemistry and engineering to their research. This workshop promises to be a very practical and interactive opportunity to use tools and case studies. It's not the usual overview of what green chemistry is, or a review of the principles of chemistry and engineering but how you assess toxicity, change your reaction conditions and make better choices in the lab.


There's also the annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in June, the week of the 16th (17th, 18th, and 19th) to look forward to and hopefully you'll be there. The program organizers, Jim Hutchison (Univ. of Oregon), John Frazier (Nike), and Tina Bahadori (US EPA) have assembled a great team and are putting together a program to be remembered. Please do visit www.gcande.org to learn more. The abstract system is open now and will close on February 28th.


This is also a year of other specialty conferences and symposia. Most notably, there is the Gordon Research Conference on Green Chemistry in Hong Kong and the IUPAC conference on Green Chemistry in Durban, South Africa. Both of these are shaping up to be great opportunities to interact with different green chemistry and engineering researchers across the globe. Very exciting indeed!


The work of the ACS GCI Industry Roundtables also continues apace. Each has met already or will meet soon to establish goals for 2014, and I am encouraged by what they are planning. An exciting addition on the horizon is a new roundtable for businesses involved in hydraulic fracturing, and I will be telling you more about that in the not too distant future. In fact, we hope to communicate more about the activities of all the roundtables throughout the year, recognizing that there has been much progress and many accomplishments over the years that are little known outside of the participating companies.


We are also working to understand comprehensively what is being done in green chemistry and engineering, and what is being said about it. Answering the simple questions of who is doing what and where they're doing it has not been an easy task. Note to academics: It would be helpful to the entire green chemistry and engineering community to make what you are doing more visible on the internet than it is currently! Later in the year, we are hoping to convene a key group of educators and industry folks for a workshop to develop educational roadmaps for green chemistry and possibly green engineering (if no one is doing that already). Jim Hutchison, David Allen, Julie Haack, Amy Cannon and others have been talking about this and moving the idea forward for a while now and we'd like to help move it the next step.


As has been the case for many years, there are a vast number of opportunities in green chemistry and engineering. I think what I am beginning to see is an increase in momentum, greater student interest, greater faculty involvement and a continuation of a high level of passion and energy in all sectors (industry, government, academia). It’s truly wonderful to see.


As always, let me know what you think.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email gci@acs.org, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Show how green your work is at Gordon Research Conference and Seminar on Green Chemistry in Hong Kong this year!


The Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry define our view of a sustainable future, with a key focus on designing chemical products and processes that have minimal environmental impact, are energy-efficient, and come with inherent safety for health and the environment. Cutting-edge developments, however, require constant stimulating discussion, multidisciplinary approaches, and an enthusiastic international community of scientists willing to share their high-quality research. All these factors are present at the unique Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Green Chemistry; this year to be held in Hong Kong!

GRC & GRS small poster.jpgGRC lecture 1956.jpgSince 1931, GRC, being a non-profit organisation, provides an international forum for the presentation and discussion of the frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, including related technologies. The GRC meetings are high-quality and cost-effective, being organised by leading investigators in the field, and held in fairly isolated locations to minimise distractions. Also, only unpublished research at the absolute frontier of knowledge in the field is presented; GRC meetings are officially “off-the-record”, with no abstracts or proceedings published before, during, or after the conference. This approach, a uniquely informal interactive format, gives the GRC meetings recognition as the world’s premier scientific conferences.


In 2014, among 300 conferences and seminars organised by GRC, one can find the latest GRC on Green Chemistry. Initiated in 1996, the GRC on Green Chemistry has become the most important multidisciplinary meeting in the area of sustainable chemistry. It is bi-annual, and traditionally has alternated between US and European sites to facilitate attendance fromView of Hong-Kong.jpg a very large international community of active scientists in the field of green chemistry. However this year, for the first time, it moves to Asia! The 2014 meeting is strongly focused on the industrial approach to green chemistry, and will gather people such as Steve Ley (Keynote Lecture), Roger Sheldon, and Alan Alda, among others.


A very recent addition to the GRC scheme is the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS), which is committed to gathering young scientists in the field to discuss their current research in a highly-stimulating and non-intimidating environment, and build informal networks with their peers that may lead to lifetime collaborations and achievements. It precedes the GRC meeting, and is primarily forPGC poster session.jpg graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and other scientists with comparable levels of experience and education. The GRS on Green Chemistry will take place during the weekend prior the main GRC in Hong Kong. Being strongly connected with the main theme of industrial green chemistry, the Keynote Lecture will be given by Ji Qi from Merck. Moreover, a Career Strategy Panel will be held titled "On the Marriage between Academia and Industry", featuring guests from both industry and academia.


Finally, the best summary of GRC and GRS on Green Chemistry comes with the opinions from the previous meetings’ attendees, in particular that being held in Italy in 2012. See you in Hong Kong!