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Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog

407 posts

Why did Walmart Take the Unusual Step to Tackle Chemicals?

July 29, 2016 | Environmental Defense Fund

 

Walmart recently announced progress on its groundbreaking Sustainable Chemistry Policy, a 2013 plan that set the stage for some 700 suppliers to rethink how they make more than 90,000 home and personal care products.

 

Kavli Fellow Travels to Indonesia news roundup 22-29.PNG

July 28, 2016 | San Diego State University

 

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the spiders that Greg Holland encounters must feel very flattered indeed. The San Diego State University assistant professor of analytical chemistry studies the molecular structure of spiders’ silk and how they spin it.

 

Carbon XPrize Ams to Reimagine CO2

July 28, 2016 | Gizmag

 

A total of 47 entries from seven countries are set to take part in a competition aimed at finding new ways to convert carbon dioxide into valuable products. The NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize will award US$20 million in prizes to the teams that develop the best breakthrough technologies for "reimagining CO2."

 

Broad Consortium Scales Up Production of Bio-Aromatics From Waste

July 28, 2016 | Recycling Portal

 

Turning waste, that would otherwise be incinerated or end up in landfill, into valuable raw materials for the chemical industry is the challenge being undertaken by a consortium of 12 companies over the next 18 months. Biodegradable waste, nappies, compost and sieving material from wastewater will be converted to aromatic compounds, such as those used in the production of plastics.

 

What's Next for Green Chemistry? Join The Guardian for this One-Day Event

July 27, 2016 | The Guardian

 

In a year punctuated by toxic chemistry crises – including the Flint River scandal and large-scale water pollution in upstate New York – green chemistry offers an increasingly relevant route toward a healthier, more sustainable society. The Guardian Green Chemistry Conference will explore the green chemistry advances that are improving our world, and the innovative partnerships and funding tools that are making them possible.

 

How do Pesticides Protect Crops?

July 27, 2016 | Science Daily

 

New research could lead to the fine-tuning of pesticide formulations to further increase crop yield. The findings also show a way to develop advanced performance formulations which will interact reversibly with plant surfaces and will leave their protective cuticles unharmed. They are now using the model at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's ISIS Neutron and Muon Source research facility to study how surfactants, a key component in pesticide formulations, interact with the leaf surface to get into the plant and take effect.

 

Dandelions, The Scourge of Lawns, May be a Fount of Rubber

July 25, 2016 | C&EN

 

In Katrina Cornish’s test fields, weed control is a big issue. Weeds are a problem for most farmers, but it’s an ironic one for the Ohio State University researcher, since she’s growing dandelions. Cornish and her group at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences are growing a special variety of dandelion from Kazakhstan known by the scientific name Taraxacum kok-saghyz.

 

Four Costa Rican Scientists' Excellent Adventure

July 25, 2016 | The Tico Times

 

Like the country’s national soccer teams, this Sele is a group of the most talented young people from around the country who have gained international recognition, jetted off to Europe and arrived as welcomed guests. And yet there is not a soccer ball in sight when this team gets together: these all-stars kick around ideas instead.

 

 

 

“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.

Creation of Evertree, A New International Actor in Renewable Chemistry

July 20, 2016 | Bio Based

 

Evertree offers plant-based alternatives to traditional VOC-emitting chemicals found in these products.  The first application will target the wood composite panel industry and will help to reduce or even remove the presence of, and exposure to, formaldehyde.

 

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July 19, 2016 | 4 Traders

 

Making plastics from plants is a growing trend. It's renewable, but is it better?  A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers examines the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of three plant-based plastics at each stage of production compared with that of their common fossil fuel-based counterparts.

 

School’s Out but Learning Continues in Yale Summer Programs for New Haven Students

July 19, 2016 | Yale News

 

This summer, as in years past, hundreds of New Haven students are participating in summer programs hosted by Yale in science, medicine, arts, and humanities. Claudia Merson, director of public school partnerships at the university’s Office of New Haven & State Affairs, said Yale is committed to using its resources to provide opportunities for local New Haven students.

 

Grinding Chemicals Together in an Effort to be Greener

July 18, 2016 | New York Times

 

The timer started, and a middle school student named Tony Mack began his first chemistry experiment. As he weighed chemicals under a graduate student’s supervision, his father, James, a chemist at the University of Cincinnati, assembled glassware next to him, engrossed in his own experiment.

 

Students Attend Summer School For Green Chemistry

July 18, 2016 | C&EN

 

The annual ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry & Sustainable Energy took place on June 21–28 at Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colo. The program engaged 54 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America in a week of lectures, poster presentations, and problem-solving activities.

 

California Unveils Its First Green Chemistry Regulations for Children’s Foam-Padded Sleeping Products with Fire Retardants

July 18, 2016 | Lexology

 

Following up on the breakthrough amendments to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), California has reasserted its intention to proceed with its Green Chemistry Initiative to require substitution of safer chemicals in consumer products. On July 15, 2016, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released its first proposed “Priority Products List” regulations under the California Safer Consumer Products (SCP) Program.

 

 

 

“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.

During the GC&E conference in June, we had a chance to catch up with Rick Glover, a chemistry teacher at Bellevue College in Washington State. In an interview, he discussed how he gets community college students into the lab and engaged in real-world sustainability challenges.

 

Q: How were you introduced to green chemistry?

 

A: I started off my academic career as an environmental scientist, and I saw that the regulation of pollutants worked sort of like a snake eating its tail. If we just try to regulate, monitor and pull out harmful chemicals as we find them in the environment, we’re inherently missing the opportunity to design safer chemicals. Using that approach, we’ll never be able to catch up to all the problems created.  I wanted to get on the front end of that, and it’s what drove me toward green chemistry. I wanted to better understand the materials we produce and their impacts on and fate in the environment.

 

There have been a couple of talks at the GC&E conference on persistent organic pollutants, and the problems we face on trying to clean those out of our water are pretty crazy. In my opinion, approaches to these problems have to be more holistic.

 

A lot of my work at my community college has pivoted toward getting students I teach into the lab, rather than on research I started previously. I’ve tried to address questions like, how do you get students to understand the real processes involved in science? And, how do you get students to really gain an understanding of where chemicals will end up in the environment?

 

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Q: What have you found most beneficial in getting students involved in green chemistry?

 

A: It’s great to get students involved through topics that they’ve either seen in the media or can relate to in their everyday lives. For one of our projects last term, some students were trying to find micro-plastics in sea salts. There was an ACS paper that came out last November that discussed finding these plastics, so it was captivating for the students. They could look at the same roadblocks discussed in the paper and say, okay, we think we’ve found these but how can we reasonably assess that this is what we’ve found? There was another student whose family eats a lot of rice, and she was using the ICP-MS to analyze the amounts of arsenic in different commercially available rice products since rice is one of those products that happens to bio-accumulate arsenic. So it’s really beneficial to get projects that students are interested in and that affect their daily lives.

 

Another project that a student has run with is around the effects of neonicotinoids on honey bee populations, which is a huge and broad topic. I’ve been really excited about his progress. He took this project initially thinking he could address many parts of this issue, but he’s realizing that much of science is addressing in incremental steps what you can do to help solve a larger problem. Learning to isolate something out of an environmental matrix is very difficult, but instead of shying away from this challenge he’s volunteering to come back this summer to continue to work on this project. It has led him to work on developing new research-based undergraduate labs so that a broader swath of the undergraduates can experience what real research is rather than “cookbook” chemistry.

 

Q: When you have students looking at these environmental impacts do you discuss preventing these problems and designing to avoid them?

 

A: Not as much of that comes on the research side, but rather on the teaching side. We discuss, for example, some of the problems in our region around Puget Sound. One of the big issues is ocean acidification and its impact on the local shellfisheries. A discussion we always have is, okay, why do we have this problem? Well, one of the obvious answers is that we need to stop burning fossil fuels. Then we move to, okay, if we’re not burning fossil fuels then from where are we going to get the energy? We discuss CO2 being in a thermodynamic sink and needing some way to get out of there. It’s nice to be able to show students that it requires a fundamental chemical understanding of these problems to solve them.

 

Q: How do you think incorporating green chemistry into a community college is different than in a four-year college?

 

A: The amount of time that I have to do research is minimal. It’s not really built into my load, so I’ve developed a class that allows me to teach research to undergraduate students. It’s open-access, so anybody can come into that class. It’s different from the model of hand-picking students for research because I’ve found that sometimes students who don’t excel at coursework do excel at research. Because there’s no right answer, it’s not always the book-smart students who are the best researchers. We hope they build the ability to address the question: what can be done with both good and bad data? Sometimes we sacrifice the time it takes to get research results in exchange for the ability to teach students about a method.

 

Q: Do you have any input on the conference so far? What brought you here?

 

A: The conference has been really exciting. I’m looking forward to the educational talks to help me bring in new labs and concepts into my teaching. I spent some time this morning in the carbon dioxide catalysis session because it’s something I’ve been interested in, so it’s really cool that there are so many different topics we can learn about here as well as reinforcing the mainstays of 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 GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable gave out two distinguished awards during the 20th Annual GC&E Conference in Portland, Oregon this past June.

 

Peter Dunn, recently retired from Pfizer, was recognized for his years of dedicated service to the implementation of green chemistry and engineering  through the Roundtable and within the global pharmaceutical industry. The Roundtable presented him with a “Green Chemistry & Engineering Impact in Industry” award.

 

Dunn was a founding member and former cochair of the Roundtable where he helped initiate the research grant program, supported the growth of the Roundtable and was  one of the  lead authors of the formative Green Chemistry article ‘Key green chemistry research areas—a perspective from pharmaceutical manufacturers’, which has received  over 435 citations to date since it was published in in 2007. Later Dunn served on the editorial board of Green Chemistry and highlighted green chemistry research by coauthoring 13 of the Roundtable’s popular ‘Green Chemistry Articles of Interest’. Dunn held the industry’s first “green chemistry” position at Pfizer and developed an environmentally-friendly commercial process for making Viagra, among other scientific achievements.

 

DSC_4448b.jpgPete Dunn posing with members of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable.
Left to Right: John Wong, Pfizer; Juan Colberg, Pfizer; Sa V. Ho, Pfizer; John Tucker, Amgen; Pete Dunn, Barry Dillon, AstraZeneca; Daniel Richter, Pfizer.

 

 

Professor Charles Liotta, Georgia Tech, was recognized by the Roundtable for his life-long dedication to research and education. Liotta is a recognized leader in physical-organic and polymer chemistry; he is perhaps best known for his breakthrough discoveries and seminal books on phase transfer catalysis.

 

He has served for nine years as the Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, and has headed the Institute for Sustainable Technology and Development. In 2014 Liotta earned Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech.  Liotta’s awards are numerous including a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award with colleague Dr. Charles Eckert in 2004. More recently, Liotta earned an ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable Research Grant in 2012 and since then and has presented the research results at several invited symposia. The Roundtable presented Liotta a Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

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Prof. Liotta receives his award.
Left to right: Barry Dillon, AstraZeneca; John Tucker, Amgen; Charles Liotta, Georgia Tech; Mike Kopach, Eli Lilly.

 

 

“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.

When I last wrote, we were gearing up for the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, I mentioned the LAUNCH Big Think and the HESI workshop on Alternatives Assessment; it seems like years ago.  While I had hoped to write something last month about just how awesome the GC&E Conference was, I simply did not have the time. The Conference week was a blur, starting with the student workshop on Monday and ending with the Green Chemistry Education Roadmap workshop on Saturday. That Sunday, I went to Colorado for the Summer School on Sustainable Energy and Green Chemistry and that was followed by a trip to Alaska to speak at the ACS Northwest Regional meeting. I managed to squeeze in a little down time in Alaska before our Separation Alternatives to Distillation workshop held last week in Maryland, and it has certainly been a challenge to keep all these initiatives going. In case you didn’t know it, the ACS GCI staff is incredible and I’m amazed and grateful for how the team has continued to deliver on all these events and initiatives!

 

IMG_8857.jpgThe 20th Annual GC&E was, in my opinion, a resounding success. The conference had 534 registrants and that is a record over the 20-year history of the conference. There were, as there inevitably are, a few blips, but none of those rose to the level of anything more than a temporary inconvenience thanks to the timely intervention the ACS GCI team. Thanks to the program and session chairs, the technical programming was outstanding and all the extra events throughout the week ensured that a high level of energy, enthusiasm and engagement was maintained.  I’d like to say once again that we owe a debt of gratitude to all the volunteers and the tireless efforts of the ACS GCI team that made this conference such a success. We are looking to build on the success of this year as we develop our 2017 conference around green chemistry and engineering in making or manufacturing things; stay tuned but be sure to participate in the call for symposia that is now open.

 

The Education Roadmap Workshop brought together about 25 educators and industrial participants for an intensive 1 and half day workshop. It was a bit daunting to hold this workshop the same week as the GC&E Conference, but the workshop succeeded in expanding and focusing the work that was started in the Fall Visioning workshop. Participants were asked to think about what kinds of skills and competencies chemists should have when they graduate with a degree in chemistry.  As a result of engaging with a wide diversity of educators and industry people, we are rethinking and reframing some of the thoughts that came out of the Visioning Workshop. It is clear that this is a process and a long-term initiative and we are grateful for the strong commitment we obtained from the workshop participants to see this initiative through its next steps.  I’ll have more to say about this effort in the future, so stay tuned.

 

The ACS Summer School on Sustainable Energy and Green Chemistry is always a high point of the summer. Dr. Mary Kirchhoff assembles a great line-up of faculty to speak and the students are always fully engaged with some challenging content. There was an abundance of applicants to the school this year and Mary certainly was challenged in choosing those who ultimately attend.  This is an event that participants talk about and remain connected with each other for years as a result of being there.  Thankfully, many past participants have continued to be active in green chemistry and engineering. We are very grateful to the Petroleum Research Fund for supporting this work over many years, and to the Colorado School of Mines for being such great hosts.

 

I was grateful for the opportunity to speak at the ACS Northwest Regional Meeting. Alaska is a very different state compared to the lower 48, and a place of incomparable beauty.  I was there shortly after the summer solstice, so seeing light for the better part of 24 hours was certainly strange.  There were a collection of interesting sessions and it was a great opportunity to hear about the unique chemistry and chemical processes that occur in the environment at extremely low temperatures and northern latitudes; not something I’m usually exposed to and speaks to the diversity of chemistry that is all part of the ACS.

 

The ACS GCI Chemical Manufacturers Roundtable has been working very hard on the AltSep technology roadmap; a roadmap for separation alternatives to distillation.  The workshop held last week brought together about 34 outstanding people, predominantly academic, to discuss research needs that will allow us to exploit different molecular properties for separating complex mixtures. Distillation is such an entrenched, robust and well-understood separation technology that is difficult to imagine using other separation approaches that can compete on cost and performance. The Achilles heel of distillation is, of course, energy, and in that there is considerable opportunity.  We look forward to a third workshop in about three weeks that will further expand the roadmap into process simulation and design.  Like the education roadmap effort, this effort lays the groundwork for what are hopefully some truly transformational outcomes.

 

 

Overall, I’m very excited and energized by these activities and how they are progressing.  I hope we might continue to engage an ever-widening circle of chemists and engineers to move these initiatives forward.  Please do think about how you might get involved; we need everyone to be a part to succeed. As always, please do let me know what you think.

 

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“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.

Contributed by Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, Director, ACS Education Division

 

PORTLAND, Ore.—Before the ubiquitous cell phone came on the scene, people used physical road maps to figure out how to drive from Point A to Point B. The road atlas of the U.S. was our constant companion during a family vacation driving from Silver Spring, Maryland to Yellowstone National Park in 1994. Road maps remain valuable tools (especially those accessible from your phone) when traveling, but the term “road map” has a second meaning according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: A plan for achieving a goal.

 

The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) began exploring the creation of a Green Chemistry Education Roadmap in 2012, and efforts focused on achieving this goal have accelerated over the past four years. A survey of faculty was conducted in 2015 to assess current chemistry teaching practices, the importance of teaching select green chemistry concepts and barriers to curriculum changes. Over 500 faculty responded to the survey, 84 percent of whom noted that it is essential for students to understand chemical hazards and exposure, including identifying environmental, safety and health hazards, and selecting and designing chemicals that are less hazardous alternatives to known chemical and products. Seventy percent of the respondents indicated that an overcrowded curriculum was the biggest barrier to teaching green chemistry concepts, which indicates the need to integrate green chemistry concepts and practices into the existing curriculum.

 

In September 2015, a visioning workshop brought together key stakeholders to articulate a vision for the roadmap and identify the future state that will be achieved through the roadmap. The vision for the roadmap that emerged from the workshop was “Chemistry education that equips and inspires chemists to help solve the grand challenges of sustainability.” Discussions during the workshop focused on the current state of chemistry education and the steps needed to achieve the vision, at which point all chemistry will be green.

 

This discussion laid the foundation for a draft set of green chemistry core competencies, which were developed following the visioning workshop.  The four draft competencies embody the knowledge, skills, and abilities that a chemistry or chemical engineering graduate should possess:

 

  1. Graduates will be able to design and/or select chemicals that improve product and sustainability (societal/human, environmental and economic) performance from a life cycle perspective.
  2. Graduates will be able to design and/or select chemical processes that are highly efficient, that take advantage of alternative feedstocks, and that do so while generating the least amount of waste.
  3. Graduates will understand how chemicals can be used/integrated into products to achieve the best benefit to customers while minimizing life cycle sustainability impacts.
  4. Graduates will be able to think about and make decisions taking into account life cycle thinking and systems analysis.

 

These competencies provided the framework for the roadmapping workshop held in Portland, Oregon in June 2016.  An expanded group of stakeholders identified a set of core elements that underpin each competency. For example, in order to achieve competency three, students need to understand integrated product design; understand product impact, function, and performance; and understand and apply life cycle thinking. Workshop participants further analyzed these core elements and proposed knowledge objectives embedded within the core elements. Continuing with competency three to illustrate this approach, some knowledge objectives include understanding how to start with function and design; realizing that customer desires can lead to many product concepts; and understanding the basis of formulation.

 

A critical insight during the workshop was that the overarching competency that distinguishes this roadmap from the way chemistry is currently taught is systems thinking, which may serve as the anchoring concept in reforming chemistry education to help solve the grand challenges of sustainability. Workshop participants also noted that changes in the curriculum should be accompanied by changes in pedagogy.

 

The roadmapping workshop advanced the development of the roadmap itself, and much work lies ahead to fully develop this strategy. Ongoing and future activities include creating an inventory of available resources; communicating roadmap progress at conferences; designing professional development opportunities; and facilitating collaborations between chemistry and chemical engineering departments.

 

A critical component in developing the roadmap is community engagement, and we invite you to share your thoughts and ideas at 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.

Contributed by Ashley Baker, Research Assistant, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®

 

When Dr. Kirschneck arrived at the 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference he wasn’t certain he’d find an audience interested in his work around process intensification. Would the attendees be more focused on academic research and uninterested in a company like his? By the time I interviewed him on Thursday afternoon—the last day of the conference—he found himself thoroughly impressed by the interactions he’d seen amongFlow Chemistry2_Microinnova.jpg members of industry and academia as well as the quality of technical talks and presentations made by his peers.

 

When he founded Microinnova Engineering GmbH in 2003, Dr. Dirk Kirschneck’s goal was to develop solutions in the field of micro-reactor technology and micro-chemical engineering (small-scale chemical processing). As his business grew and the market shifted, he extended the company to include continuous chemical processing and process intensification. Over the last decade, Austria-based Microinnova has provided solutions to a range of clients, including some of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies, helping them to develop safer, faster, more efficient chemical processes while reducing waste and energy consumption in their industrial-scale systems. These innovations, in turn, help companies to reduce operating costs while the environment also benefits.

 

During the interview, Dr. Kirschneck explained that the technology necessary to solve such challenges doesn’t always exist. Continuous processing faces particular challenges around solids, but there are already some solutions. For example, scientists at Microinnova have found that melting substances for direct injection into a reactor can greatly reduce the need for solvents. Last year, Microinnova built a plant to apply this technology on a large scale. In addition, they’ve built two plants for continuous crystallization.

 

Flow Chemistry_Microinnova.jpgMicroinnova’s team of nearly a dozen R&D specialists is constantly innovating new strategies. “Our aim is to make a process the best it can possibly be, whether it’s a chemical process, a work-up process, or a formulation process,” says Kirschneck. “That’s the vision that fuels Microinnova. We have many tools now that we can use to make sure every molecule is made in the best way.” Always on the lookout for new approaches, Kirschneck came to GC&E hoping to find new inspirations. A presentation at the conference on solvent selection, among others, has given him new perspective on some of Microinnova’s current challenges.

 

Whether it’s re-designing a chemical route or exploring a reduction in size of a manufacturing facility, Dr. Kirschneck is Employees at work_Microinnova.jpgoptimistic about the new technologies Microinnova is developing and industry engagement in green chemistry and engineering, “For process, it’s important that we see industry involvement, and that’s very present here [at the GC&E Conference]. There are many types of people interacting around a wide range of topics that can contribute to our work.”

 

It’s been more than a decade since Microinnova first began providing sustainable process solutions, and the needs of industry have changed in that time—for the better. “In the past,” he explained, “companies were more focused on fixing a single problematic step. Now, we’re seeing them ask for more end-to-end, holistic solutions.”

 

 

“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.

Contributed by Jane E. Wissinger, Professor and Organic Lab Director at the University of Minnesota

 

Since introducing the first green experiment into my organic chemistry laboratory curriculum ten years ago, it has been a personally and professionally exhilarating ride. From the beginning, the response from students was overwhelmingly positive with 93% affirming they “valued the inclusion of green chemistry in the curriculum.” Moreover, undergraduate students and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) were inspired by the topic and began inquiring about research opportunities in my jane.jpglaboratories, how they could learn more about green chemistry, or how they could contribute to the field.

 

The wave has swelled, and today my curriculum includes a line-up of experiments which exemplify greener alternatives for each element of a reaction—renewable starting materials, greener solvents, use of catalysts, minimal energy requirements, benign products, and by-products—while still teaching the techniques, instrumental analyzes, and problem-solving skills targeted in laboratory learning outcomes. Many of these curriculum materials are the product of my undergraduates and GTA researchers.  In developing green experiments they gained knowledge of the field, translated research publications into simple, scalable procedures and, in some cases, made new discoveries. Even more compelling was the opportunity for the curriculum developers to share in the nervousness and excitement of seeing their protocols performed by hundreds of other students. These first implementation days were both memorable and “win-win.” Students in the class were excited to be part of a new project and a greener, safer approach to chemistry. The “inventor” was invested in seeing the experiment succeed and was proud of his or her accomplishments and the potential impact on the diverse population of students in the class.

 

One of the first green experiments published from our laboratories involved improving upon an “old” transformation commonly used in teaching laboratories—the oxidation of borneol to camphor. A graduate student was interested in pursuing a teaching career and passionate about gaining experience in green methodologies. The outcome of his research is an experiment based on literature precedent for the oxidation of secondary alcohols to ketones using Oxone and a catalyst. Our innovations include using a two-phase system of ethyl acetate and water and using the benign catalyst, sodium chloride, to replace “fancier” catalysts such as IBX. We have been thrilled to see this experiment adopted by many other teaching laboratories and included in a popular organic chemistry laboratory textbook.

 

As another example, a novel experiment based on state-of-the art sustainable polymer technologies was developed by a first year graduate student entering the field. This work, funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant and the NSF CCI Center for Sustainable Polymers, represents modern approaches to synthesizing  block copolymers using renewable monomers with design for degradation. The current inquiry-based experiment used in my course was the result of contributions from five different undergraduates/graduate students, and collaboration with a professor from a small neighboring liberal arts college. For me, sharing potential solutions to today’s plastics through this extended network of researchers/future scientists and the thousands of students enrolled in the introductory organic laboratory course satisfies my goals of demonstrating the power of green chemistry in addressing a compelling and relevant societal problem.

 

For those of you yet to incorporate green chemistry, I encourage you to “catch the wave.” In the last 20 years, a portfolio of publications has now made it possible to find a green replacement experiment for almost every type of reaction commonly used in the (organic) chemistry laboratory curriculum. Your students will appreciate being taught modern science centered on sustainable practices, the field of chemistry will be portrayed in a positive, relevant, and innovative light to the non-majors, and chemistry majors will be prepared to meet the needs of industrial employers eager to hire students trained in green chemistry principles.

 

 

 

“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.

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Greenpeace Calls Out Leading Fashion Brands in ‘Detox Catwalk’

July 14, 2016 | Triple Pundit

 

The global fashion industry has a massive impact on the environment. This impact extends from the pesticides used to grow fibers such as cotton to the impact textile dyes have on water in countries where regulations tend to go unenforced.

 

Green Chemistry Is The Path To Chemical Safety

July 14, 2016 | Huffington Post

 

On June 22nd, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was signed into law, bringing the first legislative reform to chemical management regulation in 40 years!

 

Not Every Teacher Takes the Summer Off

July 13, 2016 | Kota Territory News

 

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is leading 24 middle and high school science teachers through hands-on green chemistry investigations that they can take back to their classrooms.

 

Why Water is More Expensive than Most Companies Think

July 13, 2016 | Green Biz

 

When it comes to managing their operations, savvy businesses know that efficient material use is crucial to improving the bottom line. However, when it comes to water, many companies fail to plan for water shortages until the problem becomes acute.

 

New Insight into How Plants Make Cellulose

July 12, 2016 | Phys.org

 

A Manchester and Dundee collaboration has found out more about one of the most abundant biological substances on the planet. Professor Simon Turner from The University of Manchester and Dr Piers Hemsley from the University of Dundee and James Hutton Institute, have been studying cellulose.

 

Rare-Earth Market

July 12, 2016 | Foreign Policy

 

Most people have no idea what’s in an iPhone. Yttrium and praseodymium don’t exactly roll off the tongue, but they’re part of what make smartphones so small, powerful, and bright. These exotic materials are among the planet’s 17 rare-earth elements, and surprisingly, the soft, silvery metals are not at all rare. But they’re found in tiny concentrations, all mixed together, and usually embedded in hard rock, which makes them difficult — and messy — to isolate.

 

Policy: Five cornerstones of a global bioeconomy

July 12, 2016 | Nature

 

More than 40 nations are proposing to boost their 'bioeconomy' — the part of the economy based in biology and the biosciences. Around US$2 trillion of products in agriculture and forestry, food, bioenergy, biotechnology and green chemistry were exported worldwide in 2014, amounting to 13% of world trade, up from 10% in 2007.

 

World’s First Full-Scale Bio Plant Will Sort Waste from 110,000 Homes Annually

July 11, 2016 | Sustainable Brands

 

Danish cleantech company DONG Energy is constructing the world’s first full-scale bio plant capable of handling household waste by means of enzymes. The REnescience plant in Northwich, in the North West of England, will be able to sort 15 tonnes of waste per hour or 120,000 tonnes per year – equivalent to the amount of waste from almost 110,000 homes in the United Kingdom (UK).

 

A Sustainable Future is #Biobased

July 11, 2016 | AG Wired

 

BioBased Technologies, LLC (BBT) was just one of the biobased manufacturing companies that made the trip to Washington, D.C. as an exhibitor and participant in the 2016 United Soybean Board (USB) Biobased Stakeholders’ Dialogue, and BBT exhibitor Terri Mallioux was on hand during the event to discuss how the company’s manufactured materials are improving the sustainability of a multitude of American products in ways that most Americans aren’t aware of yet.

 

 

 

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Selective Deoxygenation of Biomass-Derived Bio-oils within Hydrogen-Modest Environments: A Review and New Insights

July 7th, 2016 | Wiley

 

Research development of processes for refining bio-oils is becoming increasingly popular. One issue that these processes possess is their high requirement for H2 gas.

 

Replacing Oil With Wood for The Production of ChemicalsGC+News+Roundup.png

July 6th, 2016 | Science Daily

 

Two research projects have developed new processes to replace petroleum with wood for the production of important chemicals.

These precursors are used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, plastics or fertilizers, report researchers.

 

This New Material Could Help Produce Cheap Hydrogen From Water

July 5th, 2016 | Fast Company

 

Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen isn’t that hard, but it is expensive, in part due to the precious metals needed for the catalyzers used in the process. A new method, which uses cheap electrocatalysts to do the job, could make hydrogen fuel a practical alternative to fossil fuels.

 

Probabilistic Diagram for Designing Chemicals with Reduced Potency to Incur Cytotoxicity

July 5th, 2016 | RSC

 

Toxicity is a concern with many chemicals currently in commerce, and with new chemicals that are introduced each year.

 

Chemists Make Breakthrough in Carbon Capture

July 4, 2016 | PHYS

 

Scientists from the University of York have developed an innovative new green method of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power stations, chemical and other large scale manufacturing plants.

 

Green Chemistry Celebrates 25 Years of Progress

July 4th, 2016 | C&EN

 

For chemists and chemical engineers, it’s not easy being green. It’s a creative challenge to choose safer reagents and solvents, design more efficient catalysts, develop cleaner chemical manufacturing processes, use bio based materials when possible, and find better ways to dispose of or recycle waste.

 

 

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Contributed by Brendan Phillips, 2015 CIBA Winner, Ursinus College  

 

The 20th Annual GC&E conference was the first national meeting I have attended and upon arrival I was not sure what to expect. Beginning with Monday's student workshop, I started thinking critically about the all important topic of design. The workshop explored  the  chemistry of color— from its history in the development of the chemical profession, to its importance in marketing and business. The breadth of the workshop was impressive; I learned that the chemical profession was primarily responsible for the development of new paints and pigments  which directly influenced the artistic works of great impressionists such as Monet, how chemistry provided the requisite materials for new modes of human expression, artistic and otherwise. The workshop directors offered  insightful perspectives on how color is today created, used and understood. I found the concept of structural color, the appearance of color due to the interaction of light with molecular frameworks—exemplified in butterflies and peacocks—to be a fascinating area ripe for further research. Moreover, I enjoyed working as part of a team during the workshop, getting the chance to network and expose myself to areas outside of my specialization in synthetic chemistry. I was able to meet students and professionals from all over the world working in various disciplines, many outside of traditional chemistry itself. My key takeaway experience from the workshop was the strong interdisciplinary nature of environmental stewardship and the ability of green chemistry to bridge otherwise isolated disciplines in order to solve modern problems.BPhillips.jpg

 

Chemistry in its development, research, and industrial activities has truly grown as a function of social needs and wants. It has been the challenge of chemists to develop new chemical products in order to better serve society. They perform this function largely by systematic design (and often, too, by accident). It's here that chemistry has shown its colors in the past and it is here that the field will do so in the future. I entered the field of green chemistry with a background in synthetic development, but at the 20th annual GC&E Conference, I was able to see that the field encompasses so much more. I was thoroughly impressed by the research that is currently underway in green chemistry; I was previously unaware of the developments being made in polymer, computational and analytical chemistry—needless to  say  the  industrial  efforts  toward greener processes coming from forward-thinking companies. I was most impressed by the simple ingenuity of the science presented—from bio-based sulfur-polymers, to in silica toxicological  modeling and predictive tools, to renewable energy and rethinking multi-ton scale separations. It was an eye-opening experience to see such science and to interact with those who are actually doing it, either at the bench top or in the boardroom.

 

Moreover, I realized that design is a key element if not the key element in the green chemistry movement, since it challenges us to redefine our problems and solutions. It's well known that a seemingly unsolvable problem often reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem itself, such is the simple importance of clearly defining problems at their inception. To this end, the student workshop emphasized two questions by which we may understand design in green chemistry, 1) Greener than what?, and 2) Greener how? These two questions are essential to any undertaking in the field of green chemistry since they directly address what is meant by "green." A memorable presentation which emphasized these questions was one given by Drs. Maloney and Humphrey, research chemists at Merck. They showed the application of green chemistry toward the synthesis of a drug candidate. By working according to the principles of green chemistry, a simpler, less material intensive and higher yielding synthetic method was developed through conscious design. Without understanding the bulk of waste production as resulting from chromatographic purification, an alternative purification method would never have been considered. Dr. Maloney's presentation reminded me that green chemistry is as much an art as a science. It requires passion, faith, enthusiasm, effort and ultimately creative thinking. All of the scientists that I met at the conference embodied these principles. A sense of scientific and environmental stewardship was palpable throughout the conference.

 

With the right principles in mind, good intentions and concerted effort, I am confident that the brilliant and talented scientists who took part in this year's GC&E conference will continue to advance green chemistry. Hopefully one day, as Paul Anastas suggested, green chemistry will become a thing of the past—superseded simply by chemistry.

 

 

 

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Contributed by Heather Buckley, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley

 

For the most part, the only folks I know who will get up at 4:00 a.m. are skiers, surfers, or windsurfers; all sleepy, but eager to make the trip to snowy slopes, waves, or wind.  But this Monday, I was up at 4:00 a.m. to catch an early flight to Portland, Oregon, crossing my fingers that I would make it to the Student Workshop for the 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference. .010.jpg

 

Attending my third GC&E student workshop, I was excited by all the ways that this workshop has evolved over the years.  The organizers put in a phenomenal amount of work generating preparatory material to bring everyone up to speed. This meant that we were able to hit the ground running for a design challenge, joining up with our diverse teams and equipped with the guidance of fantastic volunteer facilitators and an impressive lineup of experts distributed amongst our groups.

 

Taking on the specific challenge of designing inherently safer colors in consumer products was a great way to make the many lessons of green chemistry “real”.  From students attending their first ever green chemistry event, I consistently overheard two comments that summarized perfectly my experiences as a researcher in the field: “This makes so much sense – why isn’t everything done this way?” and “There are so many factors – getting this right is hard!”

 

Having worked for the past two years on molecular design for water resistance and the ,preservation of building materials and home/personal care products, it was exciting to learn about additional resources in the hopes of applying them to exciting new areas of green chemistry.

 

The teams worked hard together all day, balancing team dynamics and approaching a very open-ended problem. They started with the biggest challenge: choosing a small piece of the green chemistry story for which to propose a greener solution. The results ranged from proposed smartphone apps and product labels reminiscent of Safer Choice and GoodGuide, to new molecular designs, to a new dying process complete with a prototype.

 

If the innovative solutions that were produced in this single day workshop are any indication, today’s students of green chemistry and engineering are ready to design better, safer products and processes. As for color: the future is bright green!

 

 

 

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June TSCA Reform: EPA Publishes First Year Implementation Plan

June 30, 2016 | JD Supra

 

On June 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an Implementation Plan that outlines EPA's plans for early activities and actions under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, legislation that significantly amends many of the provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

 

Eyewitness: 45 years with the Environmental Protection Agency

June 29, 2016 | Green Biz It’s June 1971. GC+News+Roundup.png

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — newly authorized by President Richard Nixon — had just been launched some six months earlier. News of the Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969, which ignited due to discharged industrial oils and debris, is still residual news.

 

New Method Used to Discover Potential Helium Source

June 28, 2016 | C&EN

 

New Method used to discover potential helium source Using a new technique, scientists have discovered reserves of helium in Tanzania said to be equivalent to seven times the amount of the noble gas consumed worldwide each year. The new source could alleviate recurrent shortages of helium that have plagued users of scientific instruments and medical imaging equipment.

 

Cleaning The Clothing Industry

June 27, 2016 | C&EN

 

In retail stores of the global fast-fashion brand H&M, customers can bring in their no-longer-trendy or otherwise unwanted clothes and get a discount on new purchases. The chain has collected more than 30,000 metric tons of garments since 2013.

 

BPA Free Plastic: Toxics Are Turned Into Safer Alternatives In New Green Discovery

June 27, 2016 | International Business Times

 

Like dinosaur bones, the fossils of our modern era — CDs and DVDs — are often piled in forgotten heaps and buried underground. But these rounded relics are made of polycarbonates, a common plastic that decomposes in landfills and leaches toxic chemicals into groundwater.

 

Reports on the Use of Nanotechnology in Food Additives and Packaging

June 2016 | Food Standards In 2015

 

An expert toxicologist prepared two reports for FSANZ on the potential use of nanotechnologies in existing food additives and food packaging. The reports were then peer reviewed by an expert pharmacologist and toxicologist to evaluate whether the conclusions for each of the reports were supported by the weight of evidence in scientific literature.

 

 

 

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Contributed by Sarah Kwan, Ph.D. Student, Yale University

 

On March 21th, 2016, I received exciting news that read, “Congratulations on being selected as a 2016 Breen Award Winne.r” I was elated, as not only is it a great honor to receive such a competitive award but it also afforded me the financial ability to attend and be part of the GC&E international conference, and on its 20th birthday! I knew this would be an invaluable opportunity to share my work and knowledge with a distinguished group of students, professors, and professionals from a cross section of disciplines, different from those I meet at the indoor microbiome conferences I more commonly attend.Sarah Kwan.jpg

 

My research merges biotechnology, engineering, and public health. By investigating ways of mitigating adverse health effects associated with indoor environments, namely asthma and allergies, applying a rational engineering approach to my findings, and applying the principles green engineering I hope to design inherently safe, culturally sensitive, economically feasible, and sustainable solutions for healthy indoor microbial environments to live and work in.

 

I knew that attending GC&E would enable me to develop a much broader perspective of green engineering solutions used to create healthier indoor environments. It would also allow me to showcase my work to an audience that may not have had the opportunity to think about the possible links between green chemistry/engineering and the indoor microbiome.

 

I arrived a day early for the conference to attend the GC&E student workshop. The workshop featured a design challenge centered on applying green chemistry to the world of color. I was both nervous and excited to be part of a team tacking this topic as I am an engineer, not a chemist. I was worried I would be the odd one out in a room filled green chemists and would not be able to follow alone or contribute much to the challenge. These fears were squashed almost instantly as workshop attendees stood and introduced themselves and their backgrounds. There were people from all over the world and from many different disciplines, those that had in depth knowledge and passion for green chemistry, of course, and people that specialized in textiles, green engineering and even color and design experts assigned to each group to help contribute and guide us through our design processes. The workshop started off with three great presentations from Eric Beckman, Adelina Voutchkova, and John Frazier, that overviewed how color is used in products and the how to use different tools to design safer chemicals, and ended with numerous group presentations with the ideas we had generated to answer the design challenge that included a variety of solutions from greener hair dyes, phone apps that informed users and manufacturers how to make more informed decisions on the production and purchasing of products containing dyes and pigments to inkjet printers designed to coat threads with pigment saving gallons of water wasted in the material dying process.

 

The conference itself was equally as interesting. It was kicked off with a keynote address by Paul Anastas touching on the past, present, and future of the world of green chemistry and engineering and then spanned out to cover a variety of topics within the green chemistry and engineering field over the next few days. I attended numerous talks/sessions, too many to cover them all, a couple that really stood out for me were Heather Buckley’s talk on the utilization of waste cardboard for low-cost, greener, building materials used for roofs in India, what an innovative and sustainable solution for affordable roofing materials. I also really enjoyed the talks in the Design of Curricular Materials rapid fire session that included presentations on how to integrate maker spaces into student curricula in a sustainable manner, a great look into the future of education.

 

The most beneficial part of the conference, for me, was the poster session. Not only because this was where I got to present my work, but also because it was a great upbeat session full of people ready to talk and network with everyone in the room. I was very pleasantly surprised to have a steady flow of people gathered around my poster wanting to talk about different aspects of my work and theirs. I got to brainstorm new directions to take my work, and made numerous connections with governmental, industrial, and academic based professionals alike, some of which will hopefully lead on to collaborations in my future academic career. It was great to be in a room filled with so much enthusiasm and professionalism centered on a topic as important and world changing as green chemistry and engineering. I look forward to attending many more of these conferences and can’t wait for next year’s conference themed “making”.

 

 

 

 

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Contributed By John Hanson Machado, Upcoming Graduate Student, George Washington University

 

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” Paul Anastas quoted Newton in his keynote address. I can’t think of a better quote to set the tone for the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, OR.

 

The conference was in the “design phase” of its four year life cycle. An interdisciplinary theme was established the day before the conference commenced at the student workshop. Each workshop team consisted of a color expert. For our group, Scott Echols provided technical guidance and direction for the initial stages in the color challenge: “using the principles of green chemistry to design a comprehensive strategy for overcoming the challenges associated with dyes, pigments, inks and structural color.”

 

Focusing on interdisciplinary work, each team was also equipped with a design expert from the University of Oregon. This coupling, of a color and design expert, proved to be influential in forming a comprehensive strategy for the challenge. Despite our group’s technical response to the challenge, using beta-carotene pigment as a replacement for synthetic allergenic dyes, we were forced as scientists to consider the consumer in our decision-making process.095.jpg

 

I felt the influence from the design experts most when giving feedback to other groups. I questioned whether offering a more costly, albeit safer, chemical alternative would benefit society or further contribute to the division of social classes. What role does economics play in the safety of others with respect to consumer products? My experience in downtown Washington, DC prompted me to consider policy as a way of addressing this question. In a comprehensive strategy for designing safer chemicals, it is critical to consider product accessibility for all social classes. Without my experience in Washington, DC and the interdisciplinary environment provided by the design experts, I would not have considered addressing policy as part of our comprehensive strategy.

 

At the Green Chemistry Pub Crawl and Fun Run, we discussed possibilities for future green chemistry student workshops. One idea we considered was a solution to cell phone waste. Just as the chemistry of color prompted comprehensive interdisciplinary answers at the student workshop, so too could a challenge involving a strategy to manage cell phone waste.

 

The interdisciplinary theme was echoed every day at the conference. “Radical interdisciplinarity” was even a concept described during the first annual GREENX, a special event inspired by TED talks. Attendees and speakers at the conference were from law, government, academia, and industry. As a researcher, this diverse pool of individuals provided an opportunity to connect green chemistry to others beyond the lab.

 

I found the presence of others attending sessions outside their primary fields humbling. For example, I expected only to see computationally active labs at Jakub Kostal’s workshop on Data Uncertainty in Predictive Toxicology and Alternative Assessment. However, within that room also contained multiple scientists simply interested in integrating computational chemistry in their work as the powerful tool it is.

 

In a previous NEXUS article, I claimed that I am the same chemist as I was before receiving the Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship. I now know that is not true. I am different, and the difference comes from the experience I gained and community I joined at my first ACS Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.

 

 

 

“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.

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