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Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog

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GC News Roundup.png

Research delivers insight into the green technologies market segment forecasts up to 2023

October 8, 2015 | WhaTech

Developing alternates to technology which can reduce damage health and environmental pollution, and manufacture and develop product that can be eco-friendly to environment

Center for Catalysis Established on Campus

October 8, 2015 | InsideUCR

Center at the University of California, Riverside received approval from to focus on catalysis. The UCR Center for Catalysis brings together expertise in catalysis and nanotechnology.


New Biofertilizer Made from Exoskeletons of Crustaceans and Insects

October 7, 2015 | PHYS ORG

Researchers from the Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (UPM-INIA) developed method to obtain clean organic fertilizer able to regenerate degraded soil caused by overharvesting.


First Sustainable Tire Made Entirely out of Natural Rubber Announced

October 6, 2015 | BT

Made from rubber derived from a desert shrub called guayule, all of the tire's construction is made from the natural rubber that is sustainable.


NMSU Researcher Explores Cost-Effective, Non-Polluting Geothermal Systems

October 6, 2015 | KRWG

Group developed new fracturing fluid that uses environmentally friendly polymer to create tiny cracks in bedrock deep below the surface of the earth.


Urine Recycled into Quantum Dots

October 6, 2015 | Chemistry World

Researchers demonstrated a one-step synthetic route to recycle urine into carbon quantum dots




“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.

2015 GC&E Presentations.png19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference


Miss this year's Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference or not able to sit in on every session you hoped to? You can now watch over 130 presentations recorded at the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference for free. Browse by symposium theme to find cutting edge science, industry case studies, and what's next in green chemistry education from the leaders in the field. These sessions were recorded July 14-16, 2015.


ACS Boston National Meeting


ACS members have special viewing privileges to the technical recordings from the Boston National Meeting held in August 2015.  Based on the meeting theme of  Innovation From Discovery to Application, over 300 oral presentations were captured at the meeting, including Plenary Sessions from Paula Hammond (Tailored Drug Release Surfaces for Regenerative Medicine and Targeted Nanotherapies), Pat Brown (Replacing the World’s Most Destructive Industry), and Karen Wooley (Targeted Applications as Inspirations to Develop Strategies Toward Functionally-Sophisticated Nanoscopic Macromolecules With Diverse Composition, Structures, and Properties).


Also included from Boston are Kavli Lectures from George Whiteside (Problems, Puzzles, and Inevitabilities in Research) and William Dichtel (The Spectacular Properties of Porous Polymers).  See these and all the new releases from Boston at www.presentations.acs.org. Also available are recordings from the two prior national meetings in Denver and San Francisco as well as content from the July 2015 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.

Contributed by Laura M. Reyes, Ph.D. student and Green Chemistry Initiative Co-chair, University of Toronto.


As chemistry students advance through their education, they train and specialize to become better scientists. For those who pursue graduate school, they become experts in their area of research, acquiring advanced technical and analytical skills. In addition to all this training, a few graduate students at the University of Toronto decided to start the Green Chemistry Initiative (GCI) in order to teach ourselves about green chemistry and enhance our education.


2015 Group Picture.jpgThe GCI was founded in 2012 by a group of a dozen members led by Laura Hoch and Melanie Mastronardi, who were curious about green chemistry but did not know how to apply the underlying concepts to their research projects. Since then, growing interest from the undergraduate and graduate community has increased the size of the group to 25-30 active members. Since the GCI is an entirely student-run organization, all of our events are organized with the educational needs of students as a priority. Our starting point is our own curiosity to know how others are succeeding in making chemistry more efficient, safe, and innovative. This approach seems to be working for the GCI, judging from participation in our events and the feedback we receive.


With an initial focus on showcasing how green chemistry can be applied to research, the GCI started a Green Chemistry Seminar Series. These seminars feature guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds, alternating between perspectives such as academic research, chemical industry, chemistry education, and governmental policy. Topics have ranged anywhere from catalytic reagents to the scaleup of green chemistry technologies and waste management considerations.


IMG_3634.JPGTo further engage the student community in thinking about green chemistry, the GCI organizes an annual, conference-style event. The theme changes each year, directing the choice of speakers as well as the general structure of the event as either a workshop or a symposium. In addition to the scheduled talks, the annual event also includes a research poster session, networking opportunities with speakers, and a social night to allow for more casual interaction between participants.


In addition to the seminar series and annual workshop or symposium, the GCI organizes many other events and projects, enabled by a large group of members. These include green chemistry trivia and blog posts, a chemical waste awareness campaign, a fumehood energy reduction campaign, outreach demonstrations, a YouTube video series, undergraduate curriculum development, and the creation of green chemistry resources.


Though the GCI has been largely successful so far, there are still challenges to overcome in our goals towards green chemistry education. One of biggest challenges is the mentality that green chemistry is not relevant to certain areas of research. Hopefully this will continue to change, as we strive towards featuring a variety of speakers, encompassing all fields of research. As for the individual members of the GCI, getting involved has its own personal benefits. The experience gained from organizing events, securing funding, recruiting speakers, and setting up collaborations amounts to a valuable set of professional skills. This is all in addition to a widened network of contacts and, of course, the green chemistry knowledge itself.


The GCI started from a desire to learn about real applications of green chemistry in research. This continues today, with renewed enthusiasm to also promote green chemistry education at the undergraduate level by working with the chemistry faculty at UofT. The process of learning green chemistry by organizing our own events has been very rewarding, and an expanding global network of similar student groups shows the inclination that young scientists have towards education in green chemistry and sustainable science.




“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®


The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® has become a hub for green chemistry education and for students and educators to find new ways to integrate green chemistry into their curriculum. As a recent college graduate with a chemistry major - who now works on education projects at ACS GCI - I resonated with this question that recently arrived in the ACS GCI inbox:


“I am a chemistry major in my sophomore year at the University of -----.”  I recently learned of ‘Green Chemistry’ and have become very interested in the idea. My school currently doesn't offer a Green Chemistry program or any related classes, but I really think they should. It has become apparent to me that Green Chemistry is the future in the world of chemistry.


My question to you, the ACS, is what can I do to promote the study of Green Chemistry at my university, not only for myself, but for future chemistry students as well?”


For students wondering how they can create a green chemistry presence at their colleges and universities, there are fortunately many ways to make green chemistry a part of their lives and educations. Oftentimes the biggest road block for students is not knowing where to begin.


The most common and successful place to start is with a university’s existing ACS student chapter. ACS student chapters have the chance to earn a “green student chapter award” by completing at least three green chemistry activities. The ACS GCI has provided a reference of what could count as a green chemistry activity, listed here. Students can also explore the ACS GCI website which hosts a variety of resources about green chemistry – its history, examples of its use, and more. When thinking about completing a green chemistry activity it’s essential for students to remember that, while very important, sustainability initiatives and general outreach events are not necessarily green chemistry. Being able to draw specific conclusions between an activity or event and the green chemistry behind it is imperative. For example, analyzing pollutants in a body of water would be an environmental chemistry activity, but brainstorming ways chemistry could help prevent that pollution in the first place would more likely qualify as a green chemistry activity.


In the coming months, we will be highlighting exemplary student chapters and their green chemistry activities in The Nexus (see this month’s feature on Gordon College by Irv Levy). These chapters qualified as Green Chemistry ACS Student Chapters based on activities they conducted in the 2014-2015 academic year, and the articles will provide a wide range of ideas for student chapters who want to incorporate green chemistry at their colleges and universities.


“What if my university doesn’t have an ACS student chapter?”


Having a student chapter is far from the only platform for green chemistry outreach or learning opportunities. The ACS GCI facilitates a number of annual travel awards to support students who wish to attend green chemistry conferences and workshops. Students who apply for and receive these awards have opportunities to present and gain valuable feedback on their research, engage and make connections with peers and professionals, and learn about new career pathways and cutting-edge technologies in green chemistry.


15162-205.JPGThese awards include the Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship, Ciba Travel Awards in Green Chemistry, and the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award.


Lauren Grant, who was able to attend the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference (GC&E) as a 2015 Joseph Breen Memorial Fellow, is preparing to begin graduate school in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania with an interest in developing sustainable activation and transformation methods of dinitrogen. Grant was first introduced to green chemistry during her undergraduate studies through the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC). She reflected that, even with this background, attending the conference was eye-opening and gave her unique perspectives on her research and said, “Speaking with fellow green chemists about my work gave me new ideas to try and different ways of looking at the results I have. In fact, speaking with two other students gave me ideas of reactions to try to accomplish one of my goals.”


DSC_8834A.jpgThrough a grant from the National Science Foundation, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® has facilitated the participation of dozens of students in a yearly “Greening Your Research” student workshop that coincides with the annual GC&E conference. NSF Scholars consistently report that their experience at the conference and workshop gave them new tools for thinking about their research. Andrew Alexopoulos, a 2015 NSF Scholar and graduate student at the California State University, was empowered by the experience and said, “What I gained from the [workshop] was not a formula on how to use green chemistry, but a new mindset. I realized that I would not be able to find a green way to solve every problem but what I can do every time is try.” Additionally, Alexopoulos was able to evaluate his own research with using the tools and exercises provided in the workshop, allowing him to address complex laboratory problems with new solutions.


"I want to pursue green chemistry beyond my college education – what resources can help me do that?"


15163-476.JPGThe ACS Career Workshop, another event that happens in conjunction with the GC&E Conference, provides students with a slightly different approach to implementing green chemistry. The workshop helps to show students the myriad ways that green chemistry can be a part of their lives in the long run. Kelsey Boes, a 2015 NSF Scholar who attended the workshop, realized that her passions for design and chemistry could be united through green chemistry. Boes, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, said that the career exercises helped her see that long-term lab work might not be for her but that through science communication she could increase awareness of green chemistry and scientific inquiry in a different way. Upon return to her lab, she immediately began prompting discussions with her peers about making conscious chemical choices.


Another way to become involved in green chemistry is by joining a sustainability-focused organization for young chemists, such as NESSE (Network of Early-Career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers). NESSE is a growing international, interdisciplinary, grassroots organization celebrating sustainability in science and engineering and creating new pathways to embed it through careers. It is a network of people who are passionate about using science and technology to build a sustainable and prosperous future for all. Students and professionals can interact with others interested in greener science through NESSE via member-run events like local lectures and meetings or virtually through webinars and the group’s website. Additionally, there are opportunities to join NESSE as an outreach volunteer, mentor, or even participate in elections for the organization’s Executive Board of volunteers.


Laura Hoch, NESSE’s Director of Sustainable Science Groups and chemistry Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto, says she wasn’t sure where to begin with green chemistry when she first learned about it in the second year of graduate school. Her advice to students? “I would suggest that you start talking to people in your department and see who else is interested in green chemistry. Then, figure out how you can work together to bring in people who can teach you what you want to know (e.g. by organizing a seminar series, or webinars, or a symposium). This is what we did at the University of Toronto and it has honestly been the best part of my Ph.D. experience.” She stressed that fostering an enthusiastic community is key, and that this can be started simply by initiating discussions among peers about green chemistry.


Not all green chemistry initiatives will reach a wide audience through outreach; enough individuals making green choices in their research adds up to something equally valuable. With so many avenues for involvement in green chemistry, students can choose what works for them while still making a meaningful impact. There are ways for everyone to get involved in green chemistry; it’s less a matter of finding a path and more about choosing which one to take.


Want to get involved and aren’t sure where to begin? Email gci@acs.org with comments and questions.




“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 Irvin J. Levy, Professor of Chemistry and Department Chair, Gordon College.


Green Chemistry Principle #9 – Catalysis. As I look at the adventure that I have had over the past 25 years mentoring the ACS student chapter at Gordon College, either actively or in support roles, it is interesting to me to reflect on the many ways that green chemistry engagement has been a catalyst. Chartered by ACS in 1990, the chapter at Gordon College, in Wenham, MA, like many other student chapters, has seen times of great involvement and times of dormancy. Integration of green chemistry advocacy, though, transformed the past six years into the chapter’s most successful years.


Green chemistry has been an important focus on our campus since 2003. Our initial interest was prompted by a student who was adamant that we should learn more about the idea, which was still rather novel to those of us in the teaching trenches in the early years of the new millennium. Through her catalytic efforts that one student had a profound impact on our department, our faculty, and our students.


Now, our student chapter is an intentional catalyst, bringing information to others about green chemistry and encouraging those in the academic world to adopt it into their lecture, labs, research, and – yes – other student chapters of the ACS.


David Constable.pngSo, how do you become a catalyst? What can your chapter do to engage your students and provide an outreach to others? Well, the first part of that answer depends a lot on your chapter. You have to seek out activities that will be fun for you to organize and fun for the community that you want to reach. And the second part of the answer depends a lot on how experimental you feel. After all, we’re chemists! Experiment with ideas… try activities on your own… try sharing them with a group… and don’t worry too much whether you have a stellar success the first time out. Part of the nature of a chemist is to gather more data and refine the solution. You can do that with your chapter, too.


And you won’t be alone.


The concept of green chemistry is attractive to a lot of people. Folks who would profess no interest in “chemistry” suddenly become interested when you explain that green chemistry uses principles that allow us to get the benefits of chemistry but in ways that are designed to be safer for human health and the environment. Often, this “elevator speech” about green chemistry is enough to elicit a “tell me more” response. And then, off you go. We have found partners for our chapter in lots of places – and you will, too. Some examples:


  • Students from other majors who are interested in sustainability
  • Faculty in your department who are engaged in green chemistry or sustainability
  • Your student chapter advisor, who might not be engaged in green chemistry but who might become engaged if you spark her or his interest, you catalyst, you!


And once you’ve got a core of people to get the ball rolling, there are lots of resources available to you.  For example,


  • Other student chapters from nearby schools – check the ACS website for a full listing of the chapters that received the Green Chemistry Award in recent years
  • Look for advice from potential mentors at other colleges and universities – the Green Chemistry Commitment is one spot to find a list of institutions that might be willing to assist your chapter from a distance
  • Resources from ACS GCI, Beyond Benign, GEMs database, and others … you will find many sources of possible activities

science carnival.png

About that “core of people to get the ball rolling” … it doesn’t matter whether you are coming from a small, medium, large, or huge institution. You will probably find that there are a handful of people who are the most involved in your chapter. You simply need to hit that sustainable catalytic concentration of willing folks and you’re ready to get moving. There are many ways this can be done. Again, a lot depends on your interests and your willingness to try something new for the first time. Here are some ideas that have worked for us:

  • Invite guest lecturers to come to your campus to talk about green chemistry. If you follow this path be sure to work hard to get a wide audience. For example, you might invite education majors, business majors, local high school teachers, community environmental club members, etc. in addition to other students and faculty in your department.
  • Schedule visits to a nearby business or academic institution where green chemistry is happening. One way to discover them is by glancing at recent recipients of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (PGCCA).
  • Teach others about green chemistry through public display areas. For example, a display board that creatively explains two of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry for a semester, followed by another two principles the next semester. Every three years you could cover all of the principles. As another example, highlight the success of some of the most recent winners of the PGCCA – you could showcase half of the new winners in the fall and the other half in the spring.
  • Ask your faculty mentor or department chair how your chapter can use a green chemistry message to be of service to the department. For example, ask to have some time to explain green chemistry to visiting prospective students or have a green chemistry evening (with food of course!) with your new students each fall.


Honestly, the only limitation is your creativity and your willingness to try new activities, combined with your willingness to reach out to others for guidance and for time to brainstorm with you. And by all means, don’t try to just do what the chapter did last year. Make it fresh and your own every year. These are the critical tools you will need to be a catalyst and to make your green chapter activity uniquely your own.


As one of our current student chapter officers, Logan Walsh, said to me, “The key is to be creative and have fun. I love practicing Green Chemistry in our chapter because it is a real way young people can make a difference in the world today!”






“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 Clarissa A Biscainho, Diego Ss Aires, Sidney M C Chaves, Suzana Borschiver, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, School of Chemistry, Department of Chemical Engineering.


Concerns regarding the environment and growing necessity of technology to extract energy resources have been leading to a search for alternative energy resources, among which biofuels are the most studied nowadays. Biodiesel has been in the spotlight in the recent years.


Any vegetable oil extracted from oilseed can be used as a feedstock to biodiesel production (1). Recently, microorganisms have also been a topic of academic studies with the most diverse approaches, from the use of such microorganisms as lipid resources (2,3,4) to their genetic modification to produce biodiesel working as a biocatalyst (5). Some studies even suggest the use of animal fat wastes (AFWs) as feedstock in order to lower feedstock costs while simultaneously eschewing feedstock which might threaten food safety (6).Efforts have also been made to produce biodiesel using waste cooking oil.


Transesterification via basic homogeneous catalysis is the main industrial route for biodiesel production but today, different kinds of heterogeneous catalysts have been studied as a potential alternative to the previous method. Scientists have been searching for raw glycerin applications since raw byproduct generated during transesterification has a low value and its purification is sophisticated and expensive.(7) The aim of this work is to find the most relevant research and innovation concerning biodiesel all over the world and the perspectives about the future. An effective way to summarize these studies is by analyzing what the results indicate about the degree of maturity of the international biodiesel industry and how different regions of the globe are inserted in this scenario.


Biodiesel in International Scenario: Important players




Brazil was a starter on the biodiesel market. The potential for production is undeniable and government contributes with incentive measures and laws for mandatory mixtures of biodiesel and diesel. Despite high diversity of potential feedstock available in the country, soybean oil is still predominant, which is explained by Brazil’s position as one of the major soybean producers (8,9). However, future predictions indicate a potential change of scenery, wherein soybean reduces its participation in producing biodiesel and other feedstock, namely beef tallow, palm, castor bean and sunflower strengthen their roles as suppliers to the biofuel chain (9).


North America


The United States is well-known for its high oil consumption and, since most of the oil used in the country is imported, biodiesel has shown to be a good alternative in reducing dependence on Venezuelan and Middle Eastern oil. Likewise, it decreases dependence of national commodity producers on government subsidies. The main strategy used for stimulating the demand is incentives for biodiesel and diesel mixtures.


In Canada, the strategies to impel the biofuel consumption are almost the same as the U.S.’s, including the use of diesel and biodiesel mixtures in public transportations. Differently from the US, however, Canadian population is much smaller and the country has one of the largest oil reserves. Therefore, the motivations for the interest in biodiesel are not related to Energy Security but to environmental concern. (10)




In Europe, biodiesel industrial production has started in the early 1990s. In 1997, the major biodiesel producers in European Union joined together to create a non-profit organization known as European Biodiesel Board (EBB), aiming the stimulus to the use of biodiesel in the E.U. Since then, regulation for the use and production of biodiesel has been done by the establishment of specific legislation, especially in the countries that concentrate most biodiesel plants in E.U., namely Germany, Italy and Sweden.


In the E.U., the incentive to biodiesel use is part of the strategy to reduce the emissions as accorded in Kyoto agreement. Besides mandatory addition of biodiesel to conventional diesel, there are tax break policies and high taxes over oil derivatives (11).


Asia and Oceania 


In Malaysia and Indonesia palm oil global is the most important feedstock for biodiesel production. The know-how in oil seed cultivation has turned their biodiesel industry to become profitable. For both countries, biodiesel production from palm oil is also a strategy to deal with decrease in commodity’s price in the international market. In Malaysia, there are policies to guarantee the balance of palm oil for the biodiesel industry and for food supply (12).



In China, the big incentive to biodiesel programs is largely due to the increasing demand of energy in the recent years. Waste oil is one of the most important feedstock for biofuel production. Private companies and conglomerates are responsible for the major part of biodiesel production and many installed plants use cooking waste oil as feedstock (13).


In Taiwan, however, the conjuncture is a little bit different. Although policies for mandatory mixture of biodiesel to diesel were launched in 2008, the government announced, at the end of 2014, the discontinuity of such policies, due to some problems of biodiesel quality but mostly to concerns for lack of demand (14,15).




The tropical climate allows the growth of many vegetal species that can be used as biodiesel feedstock. Therefore, African countries are potential biodiesel producers. However, the development of biofuels industry depends on more than favorable natural environment. Structural social problems, lack of interest of local governments in creating policies to launch biodiesel industry and international expediency and speculation are some of the reasons that prevent the countries from having a strong biofuels industry (16,17).




Methodology – general aspects

For both applied and granted patents, first search was made in USPTO (18) using the keyword “biodiesel”, without year specification. The Boolean operator “AND” was chosen which consequently leads to search of patents containing the term “biodiesel” in both title and abstract.


Selection criteria

Patents historic evolution analysis suggests year publication as the first criteria for selection. Since biodiesel is a new and dynamic topic, the most recent research is the appropriate to give the to-come panorama of the sector. Therefore, both granted and applied patents were selected from 2012 to mid-2014, until achievement of a reasonable number of patents to a consistent analysis. Altogether, 80 patents were analyzed, from which 40 were granted and 40 applied.




The aim of macro analysis is to have a general view about the biodiesel panorama. The first step of the macro analysis is to obtain the historical evolution of the product to be studied. In this work, the historical evolution was represented by the number of all patents, both granted and applied published through the years, as shown in Graphic 1.


                                         Historical Evolution.jpg


Despite the interest over biodiesel has risen all over the world in 1990s, the number of patents before the 2000s is quite irrelevant. As expected, first researches over a new topic are done in academia, and very few lead to conclusive results that can be effectively applied in industrial processes. Graphic also shows a growing tendency in number of patents, which reinforces the idea that the issue is very dynamic and suggests that innovations with potential to be applied in industry are constantly being made.


Patents distribution by origin country

Knowledge of origin country is another important point in macro analysis. Biodiesel is a dynamic issue and the interest over it has been growing in different stages all over the world. Therefore, using all published patents to obtain the distribution could not reflect the current situation and mislead the analysis. For this reason, the distribution shown on Graphic 2 was done based only on the selected patents.

                                        distribution of patents.jpg


United States is the country with greater number of patents, with much higher percentage than any other country. Among all the analyzed patents, 55% were issued by the United States. The great stimulus given for patent’s deposit rather than for paper publication or for presenting research results in academic events figure out as reasonable explanations for high difference between number of patents’ publications of US and other countries.


However, the distribution of applied and granted patents separately shows some differences worthy to be mentioned, since these differences show some tendencies that cannot be perceived in the distribution based on all patents. For the granted patents analyzed, 70% were submitted by the USA, a much higher percentage than any other country. Brazil represents 5% of the granted patents.


Although USA remains in the leading position for the applied papers, with a percentage of 40%, there is great decrease in the difference between Brazil’s and USA’s percentage compared to granted patents. Brazil contributes with 15% of applied patents. Besides, although the contribution of Asian countries such as South Korea, India, Taiwan and Malaysia was not so expressive for granted patents, they represent each one, 7-8% of applied patents. Although the interest over biodiesel has grown more recently in these countries than in other parts of the globe, leading to the necessity of bench scale research, the change in their representativeness as origin countries of applied patents suggests that the technology is being developed with industrial purposes rather than being limited to academic interest.


Patents distribution by inventor

It is expected that companies submit most of the patents. Nowadays, many companies partner with universities, financing basic research, which is proving to be more profitable than opening its own research center. Sometimes, research purely done in academia does not have real application in industry. On the other hand, when companies are directly for funding research, such research will be aimed to industrial applications. As companies want to protect their intellectual property, innovation is usually submitted as patents. The data match the expectations: for granted patents, 54% were submitted by companies while 29% were submitted by universities or research centers and 17%, by natural person. For applied patents, the major part of inventors (45%) are natural persons whereas companies contribute for 35% of analyzed patents followed by universities and research centers with 20%.


Patents distribution by inventor companies’ profile

For patents, another interesting topic to be approached in macro analysis is inventor companies’ profile since it turns possible to see which industrial segments are interested in funding research over biodiesel. Energy companies submitted the 42% of analyzed issued patents. Not all of these companies already work directly with renewable energy. However, even companies in which feedstock is mostly based on oil are interested in funding biodiesel research. Engineering and technology companies also correspond to 29%, a high percentage, among analyzed patents. Since in the development of new technology, equipment and services play a very important role, it is totally understandable. Companies with diversified businesses, petrochemicals and specialty companies also appeared, with low representative percentage.





The aim of meso analysis is finding the most common topics discussed in the patents. For this purpose, six groups, named taxonomies were established, in which patents were classified according to their approach. One patent can fit more than one taxonomy; this is not so common, though, since patents tend to target an specific topic of study. Classification of a patent in such taxonomy is based on deep discussion of at least one issue mentioned in the classification criteria. Detailed glossary of issues handled in each taxonomy is shown on Table 1.


                 Meso taxonomies.jpg

Micro analysis is based on meso taxonomies detailing. Briefly, meso taxonomies are subdivided into specific topics that are usually approached with relatively frequency in patents. The three last meso taxonomies presented on Table 1 do not admit reasonable subdivisions as they already comprise all the topics. A glossary, made to clarify the points taken into account when classifying patents into micro taxonomies, is shown on Table 2.

                        micro taxonomies.jpg




For both granted and applied patents, the great part of them approach processes, followed by feedstock, product and catalyst. Very few patents discuss applications and byproducts. The optimization of processes not only reduces production costs but also leads to lower generation of byproduct, increases the yield and generates a better quality product, naturally reducing the necessity of onerous and sophisticated separation and purification techniques as well as efforts to find new applications for the byproduct. This explains the low number of patents referring specifically to byproduct as well as to product. The patents classified in the product taxonomy refer exclusively to the analysis of product quality and, although increase in product quality is an advantage achieved by the process improvement, it is not always approached directly in patents that refer to processes.


As can be seen from micro taxonomies distribution, the percentage of patents, either applied or granted, handling primary processes is much more representative than the ones in which secondary processes are approached, reinforcing that focusing on the primary processes has been proving to be more profitable. The low number of patents handling applications reveals that few efforts are being made in order to find new applications for the product and that, when it comes to innovation, product is not the main target. The presented distribution of taxonomies suggests characteristics of an industry in the maturity stage. In the early stages of an industry development, product innovation is very important. As maturity starts being achieved, however, innovation of product or radical innovation in the technology loses strength and major attention is given to optimization of processes (19).


Catalysts are also a great matter of discussion. Although homogeneous catalysts present some inconveniences, as previously mentioned, they are still the most common in industry. The great know how, technology and equipment already destined to their use as well as the higher prices of other classes of catalysts are still matters of resistance for changing. In fact, some granted patents focus on ways of reducing parallel reaction using homogeneous catalysts as an attempt to avoid changing catalysts. However, due to their strong disadvantages, which highly affect the costs of separation techniques and the product quality, most recent efforts in industry are being made to find alternative catalysts, reinforced by the lack of applied patents in the analyzed period referring to homogeneous catalysts. Even for granted patents, only 16% refer to homogeneous catalysts, a minor part of them.  Although at first sight the change in the catalysts seems to be a radical innovation, since it would represent a change in years of know-how, it can be understood as part of the attempt to increase the quality of the biodiesel and reduce the costs, consistent with strategies of an industry coming to its maturity stage.


Regarding feedstock, great part of patents approach secondary generation feedstock. The use of traditional feedstock is well-established and more attention is being given to taking advantage of rejects that were previously discarded. The use of second generation feedstock is also a strategy to reduce the costs. Besides being cheaper than virgin feedstock, it can also allow industry to reuse its own effluents, consequently reducing the costs with wastewater treatments, which can significantly impact in total costs. In the recent years, some academic works have raised the interest over the usage of microorganism derivative feedstock as well as their use in feedstock pretreatments. However, this approach was not observed in the analyzed patents, suggesting that research over this topic is still limited to academic interest. At first, the use of microorganisms can seem to be in the same position as the change of catalysts or the change from primary to secondary feedstock. The use of microorganisms is much more complex, though, and would definitely represent a radical change in the dominant technology.


In fact, the use of microorganisms just adds more steps to the process, namely the microorganism cultivation and lipid extraction, before the conversion into biodiesel. For being a totally new technology with more steps, at least in the beginning it would represent high increase in the costs and would demand time until the learning curve made it possible to reduce the costs. In fact, academic works relate that some of the successful techniques used for the extraction of lipids from algae, for example, are very onerous and efforts have been made in order to replace them but many of them were unsuccessful (4). Besides, although the use of microorganisms reduces many environmental and social problems caused by traditional crops, such as the demand for large cultivation areas  and competition in the food market, it does not necessarily eliminates the current technical and operational problems, since the extracted lipids still need to be converted into biodiesel.


Usually, radical changes occur in emergent industries, in which dominant technology is not stablished yet and news technologies are being experimented without strong concerns about costs. For an industry in the maturity stage, however, the search for new technology is done rationally and as part of a strategy that aims the reduction of costs. Other aspects of international scenarios previously mentioned in the introduction also sustain the degree of maturity on the industry. Taiwan’s decision to discontinue biodiesel’s mixture policies is a remarkable example. When an industry is achieving its maturity stage, signalized by increase in the international competition and insufficient demand, it is common to see players looking for alternative markets that seem more promisor (19).




Technology prospection turned it possible to have a sector panorama as well as tendencies for research in the next few years. In the analysis of this methodology, the comparison between applied and granted patents separately is very important since some aspects may be lost in the complete analysis. Besides, the differences also indicate changes in the research line and in the strategies adopted by countries. The most important contribution of this work, which summarizes the results presented in the data search, is the inference that many characteristics suggest that international biodiesel industry is achieving its maturity stage.


Nonetheless, as the work was based in the most recent patents from all over the globe and not restricted to a particular region, some peculiarities may have been taken for granted during the analysis, making it important to enlighten them. For the Asian countries, in which the interest over biodiesel has grown very recently, it is even more difficult to define whether the industry is achieving its maturity or not. Some characteristics of Asian biodiesel industry clearly match the ones of emergent industries whereas others fit well the classification of mature industries. For these reasons, it is reasonable to state that in these countries, biodiesel industry is in the beginning of a transition, less advanced than in other parts of the globe where the interest over biodiesel has started earlier.


The degree of maturity is not achieved at the same time in all the countries but the increasing interest in biodiesel all over the globe evidences that the international biodiesel industry is achieving its maturity as a hole, since the raise in the number of international players and consequently, of international competition, are signs of maturity and directly impact in companies’ profits and lead to changes in strategies to keep the competitiveness regarding their insertion in the global market.




To the Centre for Writers, from University of Alberta, for the free support to University of Alberta Alumni and all the dedication in carefully reviewing this manuscript.


This article was originally published on Chimica Oggi- Chemistry Today, a publication from Tekno Scienze Publisher: http://www.teknoscienze.com/articles/chimica-oggi-chemistry-today-biodiesel-stud y-in-the-international-context.asp



  1. União dos Produtores de Bioenergia: http://www.udop.com.br/ (last checked on Dec15th 2014).
  2. Chen et al. Achieving high lipid productivity of a thermotolerant microalga Desmodesmus sp. F2 by optimizing environmental factors and nutrient conditions. Bioresource Technology (56), 108-116 (2014).
  3. Huh et al. Aminoclay-induced humic acid flocculation for efficient harvesting of oleaginous Chlorella sp. Bioresoure Technology, 153, 365-369.
  4. Choi et al. Acid-catalyzed hot-water extraction of lipids from Chlorella vulgaris. Bioresource Technology (153), 408-412 (2014).
  5. Liu et al. Biotechnological preparation of biodiesel and its high-valued derivatives: A review. Applied Energy (113), 1614-1631(2014).
  6. Adewale, P.; Dumont, M.; Ngadi, M. Recent trends of biodiesel production from animal fat wastes and associated production techniques. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (45) 574-588 (2015).
  7. Ribeiro, F.M., Peixoto, J.A.A., Souza, C.G. O Biodiesel no Contexto do Desenvolvimento Sustentável: Um Estudo Exploratório. Egenep (2008).
  8. Espíndola, T.E.G.; Freires F.G. Biodiesel in Brazil: Policies, Resources and Trends. POMS 21st Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada (2010).
  9. ANP - Agência Nacional de Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis: http://www.anp.gov.br/ (last checked on Dec. 15th 2014).
  10. Biofuel.org.uk: http://biofuel.org.uk/north-america.html (last checked on Apr 14th, 2015).
  11. European Biodiesel Board (EBB): http://www.ebb-eu.org/studies.php (last checked on Apr 13th, 2015).
  12. Benchmarking of Biodiesel Fuel Standardization in East Asia Working Group (2010), ‘Current Status of Biodiesel Fuel in East-Asia and ASEAN Countries’ in Goto, S., M. Oguma, and N. Chollacoop, EAS-ERIA Biodiesel Fuel Trade Handbook: 2010, Jakarta: ERIA, 96-169.
  13. Biofuel.org.uk: http://biofuel.org.uk/asia.html (last checked on Apr 14th, 2015).
  14. BiofuelsDigest: http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2014/12/29/uco-biodiesel-may-find-market-i n-taiwan-for-heating-oil/ (last checked on Apr 14th, 2015).
  15. Tapeitimes: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2014/12/29/2003607855/2 (last checked on Apr 14th, 2015).
  16. Oosterveer, P.; Mol, A.P.J.. Biofuels, trade and sustainability: a review of perspectives for developing countries. Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining. 4, 66–76, 2010.
  17. Biofuel.org.uk: http://biofuel.org.uk/africa.html (last checked on Apr 14th, 2015).
  18. United States Patent and Trademark Office: http://www.uspto.gov/ (last checked on Jul 31st 2014).
  19. Barney, J.B., Hesterly, W.S., Chapter 2 in Strategic Management and Competitive Advantage. Edited by Pearson, New Jersey, USA (2012).




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Asia’s flagship convention- “Industrial Green Chemistry World” (IGCW) is an ever growing global community of industry leaders and academic experts committed to forwarding and hand-holding the emerging field of “Green Chemistry & Green Engineering” among the burgeoning Indian Chemical Industry.


IGCW 2015 Full Logo.pngThe IGCW platform is recognized for bringing together key stakeholders of the chemical fraternity (both industrial and non-industrial) to deliberate on a common agenda of accelerating the implementation and industrialization of ‘Green Chemistry & Green Engineering’ practices into the Indian Chemical Industry. This December, Mumbai will witness the biennial convergence of 40 global experts, 400 senior executives and over 100 research scientists, academicians and students, participating in the 4th Industrial Green Chemistry World Convention, scheduled on 4th & 5th December 2015 at Hotel Courtyard Marriot, Mumbai.


The twin objectives of this Convention are, 1) to highlight leading ideas that have stood the test of time and have been transformed into successful implementations of ‘green chemistry &/or engineering’ based practices, and 2) to connect the right solution providers to the industry seekers.


IGCW-2015 promises yet another focused Industrial gathering to explore, engage-in and exchange- best practices, tools and technologies, which can make our chemical manufacturing processes environmentally benign, inherently safe and sustainably profitable.


4th IGCW-2015 aims to:

  • Facilitate an industrial ecosystem to accelerate the implementation and industrialization of Green Chemistry and Engineering practices
  • Bring forth technical know-how of green chemistry applications from the corridors of laboratories to the cauldrons of industry
  • Familiarize green chemistry not as a different genre, but as an integral way of doing chemical processes
  • Recognize emerging global trends in the direction of prioritizing sustainability and environmental safety
  • Express Industry’s commitment towards triple bottom-line benefits of Profit, Society and Sustainable planet
  • Connect various chemical community stakeholders
  • Create value for chemical companies by providing and seeking relevant services


The 4th IGCW-2015 Convention & Ecosystem provides an apt platform for solution and technology providers from across the globe to showcase their potential technologies, products and/or services to the Indian Chemical Industry seeking right partners for accelerating the implementation and industrialization of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering based practices in Indian Chemical Industry.


In this context, the 4th IGCW-2015 stands out as a timely opportunity for exploring new paradigms, new ways of collaborating and to showcase new products and technological solutions in the green chemistry and/or engineering direction.


Frequently Asked Questions:


What is Industrial Green Chemistry World (IGCW)?

  • IGCW is an expression that goes beyond the theoretical understanding of ‘green’ chemistry & ‘green’ engineering
  • IGCW is attempt that brings-forth relevant products, processes & technologies from the corridors of laboratories to the cauldrons of the Industry
  • IGCW is a growing ecosystem for creating real-time value for chemical companies by providing and seeking relevant services, technologies, products, expertise and/or solutions

Is it real?

  • IGCW is recognized as Asia’s largest industrial convention on ‘Green Chemistry & Green Engineering’
  • Being regularly organized every two years since its launch in 2009, and will be facilitated biennially until 2020
  • Leading institutes and organizations have come together to build the IGCW platform. Click here to view the list of past and present IGCW Partners and Supporters

Is it credible?

Is it worthy of my time and money?

Who else is participating?

  • Day I (4th Dec. 2015) is for chief executives, entrepreneurs, senior decision makers
  • Day II (5th Dec. 2015, pre-lunch) is primarily for technical directors/consultants, R&D managers, and principal scientists
  • Day II (5th Dec. 2015, post-lunch), is for project, production and operation  managers and consultants

Who are the Speakers?

IGCW-2015 brings together diverse experts and industry stalwarts on a common platform- the 4th edition of IGCW-2015 speakers include:

  • Dr. John Warner, Co-founder 12 Principles of Green Chemistry (The Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, USA)
  • Dr. David J. Constable (Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute, USA)
  • Dr. Raman Ramachandran (Chairman & Managing Director, BASF India)
  • Dr. Swaminathan Sivaram (CSIR Bhatnagar Fellow, National Chemical Laboratories, India)
  • Dr. Joachim F Kruger (Senior Vice President, Clariant Chemicals, Switzerland)
  • Dr. Maria Dalko (Director of Chemistry Department, L'Oréal Research & Innovation, France)
  • Dr. Murali Sastry (CEO, IITB-Monash Research Academy, India).

Click here to view the complete list of IGCW-2015 Confirmed Speakers

What’s in it for me and my organisation?

  • If you are solution provider you may consider showcasing your relevant product, technology, solution or services at the IGCW-2015 EXPO to tap the emerging ‘green chemistry & engineering market in India’
  • If you have a great idea, initiative or proof-of-concept which you want India to look at, you may consider submitting your case-study for IGCW Awards
  • If you are seeking solutions, technical insights, learning from Industry peers, and network with like-minded, you may Register here to attend the Convention

We are promoting awareness /building networks / expanding business opportunities for ‘green chemistry’, how do we come on-board as a Partner? 

That’s awesome! As, we too believe in synergizing our respective efforts and initiatives. Write to us at connect@industrialgreenchem.com and we will love to hear more about your work, and partner with you to collectively forward the cause of ‘green chemistry & green engineering’.

How can I keep myself updated on IGCW-2015 Convention?

You can subscribe to IGCW -2015 news and updates by signing-up for weekly mailers at http://www.industrialgreenchem.com/form/subscription%20newsletter.html

You can also get connected to us (along with 30,000+ green chemistry community) on e-IGCW social media :  Twitter  ; LinkedIn ; Facebook

In case you need any further information or assistance, feel free to reach out us : Email: Krishna.padia@industrialgreenchem.com  Phone: +91 22 2879 1275 / 1835



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Contributed by Ellen Sweet, Laboratory Ventilation Specialist, Cornell Department of Environmental Health and Safety; Mark Howe, Energy Manager, Cornell Department of Energy and Sustainability; and Spring Buck, Associate Director, Cornell Facilities Management.


Use of hazardous materials in laboratory experiments is inherently part of working in most laboratories. The choices of which of these materials used is an important role researchers and lab supervisors can play in reducing the environmental impact of their lab’s work. These choices can also impact the health and safety of people working in the space, operational costs such as the amount of mechanical ventilation necessary to work safely, and environmental impacts such as wastes generated. Chemical health and safety, the cost effective operation of facilities, and environmental compliance are all enhanced by sustainability efforts.


Achieving compliance with complex local, state, and federal regulations, and reducing the human and environmental impact of a lab are inherently intertwined. Sustainability efforts, including the principles of Green Chemistry, support the best use of institutional equipment and resources. These efforts have a positive impact on the health and safety of people in the lab and those supporting the labs, and generally reduce costs associated with lab operations.


However, with scientific research being the primary purpose of a lab, consciously incorporating sustainability into lab operations is often not an intuitive priority for lab supervisors and Principal Investigators. Prudent management of hazardous materials, along with the principles of Green Chemistry, support productive and successful research and education. Some key steps for implementation of sustainable lab management include:

  • Understand the hazards associated with the work being performed in a lab. This is a skill to be learned by all students and laboratory staff working in the laboratory environment.
  • Consider the health and safety aspects of laboratory work. Incorporate this information into the planning of experimental procedures that involves hazardous materials, including disposal of materials as they are no longer needed.
  • Consider and plan appropriately for the following:
    • Types and volumes of chemicals that are needed
    • Where in the lab the experiment should be conducted
    • Whether the procedure can be safely done on the benchtop or whether it should be conducted in a fume hood or glove box
  • Reach out to Health and Safety professionals for advice on regulations and best practices. Additional examples of actions, and associated benefits, are outlined in the following table:



These efforts pay off both financially and socially. The costs of supporting science education and research is becoming a larger concern as energy costs and climate change are an increasing social priority. Ventilation costs to support safe conduct of laboratory work is one of the biggest overhead costs associated with lab research.  Utility costs per square foot of lab area is 2-2.5 times that of office and classroom use.


                                                                           (Climate Action Plan, 2013)


At Cornell, energy conservation projects over the past decade have reduced energy use by 20%, while lowering the campus Energy Use Intensity (EUI) from 186 kBtu/Sf-yr to 157 kBtu/Sf-Yr.  Future projects will continue to reduce lab energy use while maintaining occupant comfort and safety.


Laboratory wastes, whether hazardous or unregulated solid waste, are costly to discard. Controlling the purchase and storage of chemicals reduces waste generation. If not handled properly these potentially impact not only the environment, but the custodial and waste management staff who must handle the wastes downstream.


Advancing sustainability on academic campuses takes ongoing collaboration between laboratory staff, and the institutional Environmental Health & Safety, Energy Management and Sustainability departments. Each plays an important role in the operational decisions of the laboratory and the long term institutional support of science education and research. Green Lab programs around the U.S. aim to assist and educate lab users in chemical management and promote Green Chemistry, lab energy conservation, solid waste management, as well as in other areas of laboratory operations.


Learn more about Green Labs at Cornell at: http://www.sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/initiatives/green-your-lab.



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                   2016 Banner.png

Dates: June 14-16, 2016

Location: Portland, Oregon at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower

Submission Deadline: October 16, 2015

Notification of acceptance by: November, 2015


The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) is pleased to announce that it will hold its 20th annual scientific meeting June 14-16, 2016 in the eco-city of Portland, Oregon. The Green Chemistry & Engineering (GC&E) Conference Advisory Committee is now inviting the submission of proposals for symposia for presentation during this meeting.


The GC&E Advisory Committee requests that all proposals reflect ACS GCI’s mission to advance the implementation of green chemistry and engineering practices across the global chemistry enterprise. The overarching theme of the conference in 2016 will be Advancing Sustainable Solutions by Design. The committee will be looking for proposals which include perspectives from basic scientists, industrial scientists, business leaders, students, government, NGO, etc. Proposal submitters should creatively design their sessions to be highly interactive (e.g., facilitate lively discussion, include sufficient time for Q&A, rapid-fire sessions, workshop-based learning, debates, etc.).   Attendees should leave sessions with clear ideas for how they can use the information disseminated in the session in their professional careers.  Submitters are asked to describe how these outcomes will be achieved in the session and should provide potential speakers and/or topics of presentations.


The 2016 GC&E Conference Advisory Committee is especially seeking submissions which address the following topics:

  • DESIGN of more sustainable chemicals according to green chemistry and engineering principles
  • DESIGN of innovative chemical technologies
  • DESIGN of processes to increase efficiency and reduce waste
  • DESIGN of curricula and curricular materials to infuse green chemistry throughout education
  • DESIGN of materials for:

     o the built environment (e.g., homes, offices, manufacturing, etc.)

     o apparel and footwear

     o electronics

     o aerospace

  • DESIGN of novel approaches to:

     o collaborations between academia and industry

     o chemicals policy

     o green chemistry and engineering metrics / assessment methodologies


Proposals should include the following information:

  • A brief statement describing the rationale/need for this topic at the GC&E meeting (500 words or less);
  • A description of the practice gaps that will be addressed during the symposium. This description should focus on how addressing these gaps will advance green chemistry and engineering in this area;
  • Proposed speakers (with affiliations), anticipated topics of presentations and proposed mix of invited and contributed presentations.
  • Plans/methods for creating an interactive environment during the session. Workshops and panel discussions are encouraged.

Please submit your symposia proposal to GCI@acs.org by October 16, 2015. All symposia submissions will be reviewed by the GC&E Advisory Committee and applicants will be notified of decisions in November, 2015.


If you have questions, please contact us at the email address above. We are looking forward to a stimulating event as we celebrate 20 years of bringing together a diverse scientific community to advance green chemistry and engineering research, education and sustainable technologies.


Kind regards, GC&E Advisory Committee




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Message from Director

Posted by ACSGCI Aug 20, 2015

Contributed by David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


The 250th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society is rapidly drawing to a close. As always, I am appreciative that there has been a fair amount of green chemistry and related programming at the meeting, although I have to add that it is a challenge for me to get to all of these sessions with the broad array of activities on offer.


At first glance, there are only about 8 sessions that have green chemistry in their title and these are mainly in the Environmental, Chemical Education, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, and Organic Divisions. However, if you look past those sessions with green chemistry in the title, you find that there is a much larger number of sessions with talks that are clearly green chemistry-related.  The other Divisions not mentioned in the first group include the Physical Chemistry, Agrochemicals, Energy and Fuels, Society Committee on Education, and Chemical Information. I hope that all the divisions will continue to integrate some sustainable and green chemistry programming into their National Meeting Programming efforts.


During the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to review the ACS Student Chapter nominations for a green chemistry award.  All that’s required to win an award is to carry out 3 activities during the year that are, in some way, related to green chemistry. There were about 130 Chapters that submitted an application this year, so it took some time to go through all these and assess them. It is very exciting to read about all the things the student chapters are doing, and there are many excellent activities. One observation I will offer, however, is that there is great confusion between performing an environmental activity (e.g., picking up trash or starting a recycling program, etc.) and green chemistry. Environmental activities and environmental chemistry (e.g., a discussion about ozone depletion or climate change) are extremely worthwhile things for students to do, and these may inform why we want to do green chemistry, but they aren’t really green chemistry.


If, for example, the chapter took the fruits of its trash clean-up and analyzed it, thought about how to separate it, recycle it and reuse it all as starting materials/reactants, that would more likely qualify as a green chemistry activity.Or perhaps students might look at the plastic items and discover all the different types of plastic that are in what they have collected. Since most of it is likely to be water or other types of beverage bottles, they might investigate bio-based alternatives to polyester terephthalate and do a case study on the “Plantbottle” that Coke and others are working on.  The possibilities are literally endless. There are so many opportunities to integrate sustainability and green thinking into chemistry precisely because the way we practice chemistry is anything but sustainable.  I’d like to challenge the students to put a little more time into thinking about how chemistry can truly be a part of the solution to the world’s problems rather than accepting that the only way to do chemistry is the way chemists have been doing it for the past 100 or more years.


The next two days I will be participating in the Global Green Chemistry Centres (G2/C2) meeting being held at UMass, Boston.  This is an initiative started by Professor James Clark of York University, U.K., and there are now about 31 Centers located around the world.  Simply the fact that there are now 31 centers is a great indication of how green chemistry is being implemented around the world.  I find it very encouraging that this network has grown from just a few centers in 2013 to 31 in 2015, and I can see that it will continue to grow.  I am looking forward to hearing more about how the centers are implementing green chemistry practices in their Universities. It should be a very enjoyable meeting.

As always, please do let me know what you think.






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For 20 years, the mission of the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) has been to catalyze and enable the implementation of green chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemical enterprise. Innovation in sustainable and green chemistry and engineering holds the key to solving many environmental and human health issues facing our world today. Thus, ACS GCI efforts focus on strategically promoting and advancing green chemistry.


The 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference (GC&E) will be held June 14-16, 2016 in Portland, OR. As the longest running green chemistry conference in the United States, GC&E invites scientists, decision-makers, students, and advocates to come together, compare findings, and discuss the science of the future. Speakers at our symposia are recognized as distinguished leaders and experts.


With three days of programming, the GC&E conference will feature 30 technical sessions, a poster session, green exhibit hall, and keynotes lectures. Special features include the GC&E Student Workshop held on June 13th, a Careers Workshop, and the 6th Annual ACS GCI Roundtable Poster Reception.


For the 20th GC&E conference, we’re looking for cutting edge research that’s tackling global challenges and advancing the field of chemistry. Broad championing themes that cover dynamic topics, from policy implications to helping people speak about chemistry in a common language.


More details on the submission process and when we will be accepting proposals for symposia for the 20th GC&E meeting coming soon! Be sure to keep an eye on www.gcande.org for 2016 announcements.


How can you help advance green chemistry in the 21st century?






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Contributed by Glaucia Mendes Souza, President of FAPESP Bioenergy Research Program BIOEN, University of São Paulo


Bioenergy is part of a larger transition to a bioeconomy in which bioproducts will be competing by means of efficiency and price. The last 5 years have seen an astounding number of new technological developments for bioenergy that increase its performance in the environmental, food and energy security nexus including improvement of livelihoods. A wide array of technological pathways in hundreds of chemical and energy industries is expanding and maturing. Technological change that reduces costs combined with full biomass utilization for food, feed, energy, materials and chemicals may create a competitive industry focused on reduction of emissions and stimulate economic growth.


Almost half of such biomass projects are in the US and Brazil, with many initiatives underway in Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and the UK, among others. The development of more efficient biomass conversion routes, especially routes that can convert lignocellulosic biomass into biofuels and biochemicals, will accelerate the transition towards a competitive biobased economy. Advanced biofuels have higher costs, compared to corn or sugarcane ethanol, typically related to pre-treatment and enzymatic hydrolysis processes and high cost of enzymes. Alternatives that could eliminate the need for enzymes such as ionic liquids pre-treatments can be expensive and require very high recovery efficiency for low cost products. Wastewater treatment when acid or base catalysts are present can also increase cost. Some pre-treatments require corrosion resistant materials, thus increasing capital costs. The conversion of soluble sugars to ethanol is limited by the tolerance of fermentative organism against inhibitors (e.g., furfural or 5-hydroxymethylfurfural) produced during pre-treatment and by contaminating organisms. The discovery of new detoxification methods and the development of more robust fermentative organisms are addressing this problem. In industrial conditions, current enzymes costs contribution to lignocellulosic ethanol is seven to ten-times higher than in the mature starch ethanol production. Costs are expected to decrease with increased operational time of industrial-scale plants and continued improvements in cocktails by enzyme manufacturers. Consolidated bioprocessing options are also in development.


Initial industrial scale operations of several lignocellulosic ethanol processes as first-of-a-kind plants started in 2013-2014. The positive outlook of advanced biofuels is conditional on accelerated deployment of whole supply chains, including harvesting, collection, baling, transport, drying, densification, storage and pre-treatment. Today there is an increasing awareness that sugarcane can be used for many applications, not only as a biomass feedstock for energy production but also for bioprocessing in a biorefinery into a wide range of chemicals including a variety of polymers. Life cycle analyses indicate that sugarcane would be highly competitive with other crops as a preferred feedstock for a biomass-based industry. Biorefineries that use wood are also underway.


The complex chemical makeup of wood (cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignins, pectins and extractives) makes it a good potential raw material to replace petrochemical-based fuels and chemicals. Integrated biorefinery systems that can produce fuels, chemicals, electricity, heat and other co-products are coming in many colors and formats. Hundreds of large-scale plants could be required to deliver energy in the scales needed, like power markets, while chemicals may not require as many. Urban centers may use flexible small-scale fuel production and some farm plants may be able to deliver multiple chemical products, changing our rural landscapes. It’s easy to imagine a completely different way of using land with multi-functional landscapes such as by substituting extensive inefficient pastures with integrated agro-forestry systems. Enough land is available that does not compete with our future food needs integrated food-energy systems possibly contributing to food security and energy access in developing regions.


Policies and energy prices are key drivers for current bioenergy and the emergent bioeconomy. As the bioeconomy is a promising but infant industry in most of the world, policies are needed to stimulate its development. Lessons learned on the implementation of biomass feedstock chains and conversion technologies have come a long way to decrease energy use, increase efficiency, decrease use of water and emissions. Regulation can deal with the indirect effects.


There is need for investment in advanced biosciences research-genomics, molecular biology, genetics and synthetic biology - for major platforms - sugar, syngas, methane and other bioproducts for fuels, including hydrogen, and chemicals. Over 70% of the costs of bioenergy are on the feedstock production side. Careful consideration is needed to define how best biomass is used, converted, scaled up and deployed to an appropriate level and in understanding the potential value of every single stream of organic matter - a no waste philosophy. The complete use of feedstocks must be sought to convert all primary energy content of the material to useful products. A new green revolution is on the way that includes not only increased yield and adaptation to the environment but also tailor-making biomass chemical composition to different applications including increased saccharification for second-generation biofuels and bio-based chemicals.


For more information please visit SCOPE Bioenergy & Sustainability




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A Hot Topic is Cool Pigments

Posted by ACSGCI Aug 18, 2015

Contributed by Mark Ryan, Marketing Manager, Shepherd Color Co.


Shepherd Color specializes in CICP (Complex Inorganic Color Pigments) that provide durable color in the most demanding applications where heat, chemicals, UV and weathering conditions make other pigments fail. These highly inert pigments also have a wide range of regulatory approvals for the most sensitive applications.


mixed colors.jpgA hot topic is cool pigments. Standard dark pigments absorb most of the sun’s energy. Since the sun’s energy can be roughly divided in half between the visible and the invisible n-IR, Shepherd Color’s Arctic® line of pigments help keep substrates cooler by reflecting the n-IR energy and selectively absorbing the sun’s visible energy for aesthetically pleasing colors. Shepherd Color’s experience with these applications has led to a ‘black rainbow’ of optimized IR-reflective black pigments with tailored properties for specific applications. For plastics applications Arctic® Black 10P923 is optimized for a jet masstone, Arctic® Black 10P922 is a balance of masstone color and tint strength in a blue-shade IR-black, Arctic® Black 10P950 provides the maximum tint strength in an IR-Black, while Arctic® Brown 10P895 is warmer in tone for natural looking building products. For coatings applications our Arctic®  Black 30C941 has IR reflectivity and our Dynamix easily dispersed feature. This rapid incorporation of the Arctic IR reflectivity feature into new coatings products such as cool roofing found in EPA Energy Star program, USGBC LEED and other building codes and standards. Reducing the solar energy absorbed by a roof reduces the heat that a building’s HVAC system has to deal with. This reduces energy usage- especially peak energy demand- and carbon dioxide release from power generation. A cooler roof also transfers less energy to the air around a building which reduces the urban heat island effect.


All of these products have better performance in n-IR reflectance based on Shepherd Color’s 30+ years’ experience in developing this pigment technology and have the inherent stability that provides long-term durability.


yellow and orange.jpgShepherd Color continues to bring innovation to the market and expand the durable color envelope in the critical yellow color space with the two pigment chemistries of NTP Yellow (Niobium Tin Pyrochlore) and the RTZ Orange (Rutile Tin Orange). The Shepherd Color’s NTP Yellow 10P150 product is a high-performance alternative in plastics to lead chromate yellow in the middle-yellow color space. It has the highest heat stability for use with engineering polymers where even pigments like bismuth vanadate yellow struggle. The RTZ Orange 10P340 combines the highest redness value and durability of any pigment in its class on the market.  In coatings, the NTP Yellow 30C152 provides opacity and durability not found in any other pigment. No longer is there a compromise between the chromaticity of organic yellow pigments and the lower chromatic but durable inorganic pigments.


RTZ Orange is a high-durability and heat-stable true orange-shade pigment that provides a way to add redness to colors based on other yellows like bismuth vanadate and NTP Yellow, all without the loss in chromaticity found with other inorganic pigment blends.  Together, the NTP Yellow and RTZ Orange allow high-durability and all inorganic pigmentation options for colors like Signal Yellow RAL 1003. The NTP Yellow is a brand new patented chemistry and the most impactful new high-performance pigment since DPP red was introduced.


A hallmark of the CICPs is their inherent stability in a wide range of solvents and chemicals, including acids and bases. Because of this inertness they have a wide range of approvals around the world for use in sensitive applications like food packaging.




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Contributed by Dr. Gary Spilman, Principal Scientist, Resinate Materials Group®.


Environmental, health and safety concerns continue to drive rapid growth for environmentally friendly, low VOC coatings. This growth, further compounded by increased social awareness of mega trends such as depleted finite resources, the growing world population, and constrained food resource, has companies seeking highly sustainable feedstock solutions. Although bio-based materials have provided feedstock options which are more sustainable than fossil petroleum alternatives, use of recycled content has remained relatively unexplored. With this in mind, Resinate Materials Group® has developed proprietary technology, which allows us to create multi-functional coatings using recycled raw material streams, including recycled poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET).  By harvesting materials otherwise destined for landfills we are able to extend the lifecycle of valuable, finite resources. Furthermore, studies have shown recycled PET feedstock to have more favorable life cycle assessment scores than comparable fossil petroleum-based or bio-based PET feedstocks. By harnessing the inherent properties of recycled PET, Resinate® has been able to impart a unique balance of properties into a variety of functional polyols and coatings including excellent hardness, good flexibility, and good chemical and stain resistance, all while developing a highly sustainable feedstock option.


With the U.S. production of plastic bottles at an amazing 9.4 billion pounds in 2013, and the total plastic bottle recycling collection rate at only 30.9%, there is a wide gap in unclaimed, uncollected, and discarded plastic bottlesi. The math is staggering when one considers that the remaining 69.1% amounts to 6.5 billion pounds. Where is the unclaimed material going? Landfills and incinerators take in much of the excess.


We have markets and supply chains for recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, but this option is operating inadequately and competing with virgin material for demand. There is a need for other options to become available for used PET material to live a second life as high-performance polyester, which its pedigree supports. One such option for these materials is their incorporation into high-performance protective coatings for wood and metal. Through careful synthetic breakdown and reassembly their lives as durable, functional, tough, attractive coatings can be realized. This new use for materials which were previously harvested and discarded, will help create increased demand and reduce the overall amount that finds its way into a landfill or incinerator.


PET, which has been processed into bottles, already has a significant energy history and environmental footprint paid to that point.  With that impact and footprint already within the material, this recycled PET can reduce the need for creating additional impact, which would occur with the harvesting and processing of additional virgin petroleum-based feedstocks. We discuss here the means to reclaim used PET as a raw material in high performance coatings and the surprising results that accompany high incorporation of previously “spent” materials.


Starting with the recycled PET (rPET) stream, there are several parameters to consider when converting the bulk material into a useful form for coatings. The functionality and equivalent weight required for most coating polyols is not inherent in the rPET as supplied, so hydroxyl end groups need to be generated. This provides a handle for both secondary processing polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) and for final curing for thermoset coatings (melamine, isocyanurate, etc.).  Since PET is inherently semi-crystalline, it is also necessary to determine whether to preserve or eliminate this property. According to Schiraldi, et.al., ii“modifying substances” can be used to affect the properties and degree of crystallization, tune tensile and modulus properties, adjust the Tg and Tm, and modify barrier properties. Carefully selected comonomers can accomplish this while simultaneously contributing to other performance attributes. From the aromatic side, isophthalic acid (PIA) has become the most widely accepted modifier for packaging applications due to its relatively minor effect on the Tg, reduction in the crystallization rate but not in the ultimate level of crystallinity (at < 5 mol%), and improved barrier properties. iiiAdditionally, hydroquinone and 4,4’-bisphenol are known to accelerate crystallization rates over neat PET.


The introduction of long chain diols can impart desirable characteristics such as flexibility.  Polyols such as hexanediol, butanediol, and dodecanediol are good examples.  Polyethers such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) or poly(tetramethylene ether) glycol (PTMEG) are also good diol modifiers for flexibility.  This increase in flexibility may come along with substantial changes in Tm, Tg, and crystallinity.  As is true with many properties, opposing ends of the property spectrum must be balanced to maintain good overall performance in coating applications.  Additionally, in starting from mixed recycle streams of PET, there may be some unwanted color associated with prior use in packaging, and this may need to be eliminated for some coating applications.


Clearcoat layers designed as final topcoats for wood and metal substrates are normally colorless, and decolorizing rPET streams has become necessary for consistency.  A novel process has been established for reducing or eliminating color associated with recycle-grade bottle flakes, but it will not be discussed here.


A final note on the design of polyols relates to natural and bio-based modifications. These ingredients are also of high interest and may include many different acids or anhydrides such as adipic and succinic, and diols such as propanediol, ethylene glycol, and others.  Multifunctional intermediates such as pentaerythritol (Voxtar)iv are now being made through a renewable and sustainable bio-based process, and can provide needed hydroxyl functionality for coating applications. Of course, most all fatty acids are naturally-derived and can provide some level of hydrophobicity in the polyol when needed. Polyether polyols have also found some level of “green” with alkoxylated hydroxyl-functional natural oilsv and epoxidized methyl oleate polyether polyols. viResinate’s® corporate philosophy with respect to green chemistry is to use recycle content raw materials first and biorenewable content second. If performance requirements set by our customers can't be met or exceeded with these first two options, only then do we use petroleum content raw materials or ingredients. This approach leads to the highest “green” content possible in the final polyol.


With the motivation to take advantage of all performance properties of PET, our company has developed new polyols from recycled PET that have demonstrated superior performance for coating applications. Resinate® polyols, when tested against conventional specialty polyols, clearly show desirable performance in the most popular wood and metal coating test categories.  Hardness, flexibility, toughness, strength, and chemical resistance are all benefits Resinate® has taken from materials that have been previously spent for their designed purpose. The polyester material is waiting to be re-engineered for a new life as a coating. Resinate® is acquiring the performance data and design feedback from its process and composition variables to meet and exceed the needs in the coating resin sector with a high metric for sustainability.


About Resinate®


Each year, millions of tons of used petroleum and other products are deposited in landfills, and whatever further use they might offer is lost. Resinate® recaptures those products as raw materials, turning waste streams into high-performance polyol solutions. We develop innovative ways to divert landfill waste, extend the life of finite resources and upcycle used molecules into high-performance polyester polyols — the backbone of coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers, foams and lubricants. For more information, visit www.resinateinc.com.


i2013 U.S. National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report; The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers; American Chemistry Council, 2014.

iiSchiraldi, D., Scheirs, J., & Long, T. (2003). New Poly(ethylene terephthalate) Copolymers. In Modern Polyesters (pp. 245-265). John Wiley and Sons.


ivSvensson, C. (2011, March 29). Discover Voxtar™, world’s first renewable pentaerythritol platform, and more Perstorp sustainable solutions. Retrieved December 1, 2014.

vJack Reese., Stanley Hager., Micah Moore. (2012). US20140024733 A1. Pittsburgh, PA: United States.

viLligadas, G., Ropnda, J.C., Galia, M., Biermann, U., Metzger, J. O., J. Polym. Sci. Part A: Polym. Chem., 2006, 44(1), 634-645.




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Contributed by Michiel Dusselier, PhD, Dr. Joseph Breen Memorial Fellow, 2013. Postdoctoral researcher at Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, Faculty of Bioscience engineering, KU Leuven, Belgium


The popularity of bioplastics - defined as being either partially biodegradable or renewable, or both - is on the rise not just from an academic perspective, but also from an industrial one. Numbers published last year predict that the global production of bioplastics is to grow 300% by 2018. Aside from drop-ins bio-polyethylene and bio-PET, polylactic acid, or PLA, is the major synthetic bioplastic out there, taking up about 11% of the global production capacities. PLA is 100% renewable and, given the right conditions, biodegradable. Next to the high potential of this thermoplastic in an impressive range of applications (packaging, textiles, fibers and foams), PLA is a promising alternative for polypropylene, polystyrene and even PET in certain markets. Moreover, the polymer is perfectly suited for 3D printing as well as for in vivo application due to its biocompatibility. In spite of the environmentally benign performance of PLA in life cycle assessments, the major bottleneck preventing a larger scale breakthrough is the high production cost.


One of the main cost factors at play is the synthesis of lactide. To transform lactic acid, derived from sugar fermentation, into lactide, a two-step process is followed: first, a low quality PLA plastic (pre-polymer) is made that, in a second step, is broken down again to yield the lactide building block (cfr. red route in the scheme). That building block is then polymerized to give a good quality PLA plastic. Part of the lactic acid feedstock is wasted in this process, as the process and its conditions (high temperatures and costly vacuum pressures) induce side-product formation and a degree of unwanted racemization. The side-products also infer the need for additional purification steps before the lactide building block is pure enough for polymerization to PLA. In essence, the current route presents a detour that could be more feedstock-, energy- and time-efficient.zeolite catalysis.png


With the principles of green chemistry in mind, we set out to introduce a re-usable, heterogeneous catalyst and to aim for the direct synthesis of lactide from lactic acid. We succeeded and developed a one-step catalytic process that converts lactic acid with a zeolite under solvent reflux with water-removal. The new process has many advantages: it allows a step to be skipped, runs at milder conditions (e.g. atmospheric pressure) and has minimal side-product formation and no racemization. The purity of the building block is very high, eliminating the need for excessive purification. The process is theoretically waste-free, as the few side-products formed can be easily recycled to the reactor and the zeolite is reusable. Although the introduction of a solvent could be seen as disadvantageous, it is a perfect bridge between the selectivity of the chemical reaction and the follow-up lactide isolation: a single liquid/liquid extraction with water on the reactor outlet yields a 98% pure lactide in the solvent that can be crystallized with solvent recycle.


zeolite catalysis2.pngThe key to the invention - to the ‘shortcut’- is that we use the zeolite catalyst to speed up and guide the reaction in the right direction (away from side-products). Zeolites are microporous minerals, with active centers only accessible via a network of sub-nanometer pores. Lactic acid can easily get in, is transformed into the building block, which easily gets out again. The side products are larger and can simply not be formed in these pores. This concept of steering the reaction outcome with spatial restriction is known as ‘shape-selectivity’ and is used in refineries and petrochemical plants every day to make our daily fuels and chemicals. We have thus applied a petrochemical concept to bioplastics production.


Back in 2010, we delivered the first proof-of-concept of this catalytic process. After that, we faced a difficult question:  to pursue commercial relevance and IP generation, or immediate valorization through publication? We decided in favor of the first, since after all, from an engineering point of view, you hope to actually change or improve something in real life and not just on paper. After a couple of years of embargo, during IP generation and its transfer to an interested company (studying up-scaling options), we were still able to go public with the process, and have since successfully published in Science.



These developments render me hopeful that they exemplify the value and applicability of green chemistry and catalysis research, here deployed in the field bio-based polymers. I hope that our invention will lead to a cheaper and greener PLA production, as well as inspire people to continue their efforts in green chemistry R&D.


The article, “Shape-selective zeolite catalysis for bioplastics production” was recently published by  M. Dusselier, P. Van Wouwe, A. Dewaele, P. A. Jacobs and B. F. Sels, in Science 2015, vol. 349.


I was a Joseph Breen Memorial Fellow in 2013, and I attended the 17th Green Chemistry and Engineering conference in Bethesda, MD.


The work I submitted for this fellowship was carried out during the embargo for the lactide process. At that time, we looked into the synthesis of lactic acid and other alpha-hydroxy ester molecules with chemical catalysis from biomass sugars. Next to reporting on a bifunctional carbon-silica composite catalyst for lactate production from trioses (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, vol. 134), I looked into the formation of less common, but intriguing lactic acid look-alike building blocks. In the end, we showed the pathways needed to form these molecules through cascade catalysis. For certain applications of PLA, it would be desirable if some side chains in the polymer would be accessible for further tailoring its properties. We proved exactly that, by creating a co-polymer of one of these new building blocks with lactic acid via polycondensation and modifying the hydrophobicity of a surface coated with these polyesters (ACS Catal. 2013, vol. 3).Interestingly, the novel shape-selective process does not only work for lactide, but also for certain of these other alpha-hydroxy acids. Henceforth, the process provides an essential link between polymer chemistry - where the cyclic dimers (such as lactide) are the ideal starting point for polymerization - and biomass valorization research - where the production of alpha-hydroxy acids (such as lactic acid) is targeted.




“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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