Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog

535 posts

The 2017 Ciba Award in Green Chemistry was awarded to four outstanding students from the Simmons College, University of California - Berkeley, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Grosse Pointe North High School. These students have shown significant abilities to incorporate creative green chemistry solutions into their research and education. This year marks the first time a high school student has received the award since the program began in 2010.


Administered by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, the Ciba Travel Award enables students with an interest in green chemistry to travel to an ACS scientific conference—giving them important opportunities to expand their education by attending symposia, networking, and presenting their research. This year’s awardees’ highlight the importance of multidisciplinary and systems-centric learning—representing multiple perspectives and experiences from chemistry, biochemistry, chemical education, toxicology and public health. Research topics includes improving green chemistry education, development of an effective green electrochemistry lab, synthesis of safer antimicrobial copolymers, and the use of ligands for to remove metals from aqueous substances.


From a large pool of excellent applications, the panel of judges selected the following winners, (list is pictured from left to right):


Laura Armstrong is a graduate student at the University of California – Berkeley in the science and mathematics education program. Her area of focus is in how a shared understanding of green chemistry’s purpose and practices can help foster adoption of green chemistry into research and educational settings. To this end, Armstrong has built an assessment tool to collect and analyze beliefs around green chemistry and the factors that influence them in order to understand effective outreach strategies for increased green chemistry adoption. She plans to present her research at the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 18-20, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.


Steven Couture is a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Boston where he is completing a M.S. in chemistry. Couture’s previous experience as a high school chemistry teacher informed his graduate work where he developed a greener electrochemistry lab. After piloting the lab, he conducted a randomized experiment comparing student interest, engagement and ability to apply green chemistry after having taken the greener lab vs. a traditional one and found overwhelming support for the effectiveness of the new lab. Couture is also a leader in the New England Students and Teachers for Sustainability (NESTS). After graduation, he plans to return to teaching high school chemistry and will continue to redesign chemistry labs, integrating green chemistry further into the high school science curriculum. With his award, he will attend the 225th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 18-20, 2018 to present his research.


Ruby Rose T. Laemmle is an undergraduate student from Simmons College with a double major in in biochemistry and public health. Her research is in the design and application of copolymers that can be cross-linked and coated onto textiles. This research seeks to find a safer way to use quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) as antimicrobials on textiles. QACs are effective but typically run off easily in the wash and where they may be toxic to aquatic life.  Laemmle has been able to immobilize the QAC compounds by copolymerizing them with photoresist monomers and crosslinking them to the fabric surface with UV irradiation. Laemmle will present her research at the 225th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 18-20, 2018.


Michal Tomasz Ruprecht is a high school student from the Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He participated in advanced organic and green chemistry research at the University of Detroit Mercy where, motivated by the Flint water crisis, he investigated the use of ligands to pull metal ions from aqueous solutions. Ruprecht plans to continue this research through 2018 and, after graduation from high school, expects to continue his studies as an undergraduate student of chemistry and materials science with the goal of pursuing green chemistry-based research in a graduate degree. Ruprecht hopes to present his ligand research at the 226th ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Boston, Massachusetts, August 19-23, 2018.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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 David Constable, Ph.D., Science Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


DSC_1090-2.jpgI have just returned from almost two weeks in India, where I had the privilege of participating in several conferences and workshops. Traveling to India makes for a long trip, but I am always very deeply appreciative of the tremendous hospitality, generosity and respect shown to me by our Indian colleagues; it is very humbling. I have been in India twice this year, and without question, it seems as though green chemistry progress is accelerating in India. This is cause for tremendous optimism given the environmental conditions that are a consequence of rapid industrialization and the fact that few pollution controls have been rigorously enforced in years past. Participation, interest and enthusiasm for green chemistry among government participants, industry colleagues, and academics provides strong evidence of a deep commitment to making lasting changes.


The first conference and workshop I participated in was in New Delhi, arranged by Professor Rakesh Sharma of the University of Delhi. The conference theme was “Advancing Green Chemistry:  Building a Sustainable Tomorrow” and was largely attended by the academic community in and around New Delhi. Professor Sharma is and has been a tireless supporter and promoter of green chemistry in India since 2001, and he continues to take every opportunity to convene conferences and workshops across India. I am always impressed when he presents the history of his promotion of and involvement in green chemistry over the past 14 years through a succession of conferences, symposia, workshops, television appearances and print media.


A workshop on the second day of the conference was focused on teachers and providing hands-on experience with the green chemistry experiments Prof. Sharma, Dr. Indu Sidhwani and Dr. M.K. Chaudhari have recently published. The level of enthusiasm for green chemistry among students and teachers is nothing less than amazing.


The second conference I had the privilege of participating in was IGCW 2017 in Mumbai. This was my fourth time at IGCW, and it was even more successful than the previous IGCW conferences I have attended. Nitesh Mehta, Badresh Padia and Krishna Padia are business partners (Newreka), founders of the Green ChemisTree Foundation, and conveners of the IGCW.  It is hard for me to convey the degree of their commitment to green chemistry and engineering, but the vision they have had for green chemistry and engineering in India has sustained them through some very difficult times for their business and less successful conferences in past years. I know of no other company in the world that even comes close to the extent of their personal commitment to advancing green chemistry and engineering, and I am truly inspired by what they have accomplished.

European businesses, in addition to Indian businesses, members of the Pollution Control Board, academics, and senior government officials were all present, with over 300 registered participants for the two-day conference and workshops.


On the Saturday and Sunday following the conference, the Green ChemisTree foundation and the ACS sponsored green chemistry workshops for students at the National College for Teachers and at Sumaiya Vidyavihar University. I had the privilege of speaking several times at both these events and was tremendously impressed by the level of engagement and excitement on the part of teachers and students. I can honestly say that I have never experienced this kind of excitement and commitment outside of India – truly impressive and a cause for great optimism that India will address its many sustainability challenges in the future.


Later on, we also visited two companies, Lupin and Hikal, both of which are generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, contract manufacturing/research companies. At both companies we were able to meet with and make presentations to a large portion of their process chemists about green chemistry opportunities in pharmaceutical manufacturing operations and the benefits of being a part of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. Once again, it was great to interact with a highly engaged group of chemists and chemical engineers!



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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.

What better place than the classroom for green chemistry – the “field open for innovation, new ideas, and revolutionary progress” – to flourish? In the years since its inception, green chemistry has been increasingly implemented in undergraduate chemistry education. In an effort to honor the hard work and dedication of ACS Student Chapters who show outstanding interest in the discipline, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) partnered with the ACS Education Division in 2001 to initiate Green Chemistry Student Chapter Awards.


The awards, granted to only four student chapters in the 2001-2002 academic year, are now regularly awarded to over 50 student chapter winners across the country annually. This year, we celebrate 53 student chapters who have used their creativity and resources to show their commitment to sustainable chemistry by completing three or more green chemistry outreach activities.


Activities that qualify for eligibility must emphasize an understanding of green chemistry — anything from hosting a lecture at your school to planning a green chemistry scavenger hunt in your community. Here are a few additional standout examples of green chemistry activities that some of our 2016-2017 Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award Winners completed:


  • Gordon College students worked with other student chapters in the Northeast region to coordinate an Earth Day event sponsored by ACS at the Museum of Science in Boston. There, they hosted interactive demonstrations, using M&Ms to explain E-factor and cabbage juice to explain pH, to show local families how green chemistry “feeds the world.” They also conducted similar demonstrations in a STEM fair at a local K-12 school district in Ipswich, Massachusetts.


  • University of New England students organized a lecture by green chemistry founder John C. Warner and performed an “Ecovative Material” activity in advance, showcasing the benefits of sustainable alternatives to nonrenewable resources. Several club members also traveled with an advisor to the Warner Babcock Institute in Massachusetts for the Green Chemistry Innovation Workshop, where they toured the facility, networked with other visiting student groups, and learned about advances in green chemistry from chemists working in the space themselves.


  • University of California-Los Angeles students dissected the chemicals in store-bought cosmetics that pose harmful effects to human health and the environment, and encouraged event participants to join them in making their own alternative, eco-friendly beauty products – including a raw sugar and strawberry face scrub, a green tea and coconut oil face scrub and an oatmeal and honey face mask – that they could take home with them. They also presented on the chemistry of composting.


  • University of Tennessee at Martin ACS Student Chapter students, called SMACS, joined forces with a local Boy Scout troop in West Tennessee to host a Merit Badge Workshop where scouts learned about the importance of green chemistry and chemistry at-large, and engaged in various experiments. The SMACS have been hosting this workshop for nearly 30 years, but only recently have its demonstrations incorporated innovative green chemistry techniques to eliminate waste and more.


The full list of 2016-2017 academic year Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award winners are:


Alvernia University Student Chapter

Angelo State University Student Chapter

Central Michigan University Student Chapter

City Colleges of Chicago Wilbur Wright College Student Chapter

Duquesne University Student Chapter

Erskine College Student Chapter

Gordon College Student Chapter

Henderson State University Student Chapter

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Student Chapter

Inter American University of Puerto Rico Ponce Campus Student Chapter

Inter American University of Puerto Rico San German Campus Student Chapter

Miami University Student Chapter

Midland College Student Chapter

Mississippi College Student Chapter

Missouri State University Student Chapter

Northeastern University Student Chapter

Pace University Student Chapter

Ramapo College of New Jersey Student Chapter

Saginaw Valley State University Student Chapter

Saint Francis University Student Chapter

Saint Louis University Student Chapter

Salt Lake Community College Student Chapter

Santa Monica College Student Chapter

Simmons College Student Chapter

South Texas College Student Chapter

Tarleton State University Student Chapter

Tennessee Technological University Student Chapter

The College of New Jersey Student Chapter

The Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico Student Chapter

Tuskegee University Student Chapter

Union University Student Chapter

United States Merchant Marine Academy Student Chapter

University of Alabama at Birmingham Student Chapter

University of California-Davis Student Chapter

University of California-Los Angeles Student Chapter

University of California-San Diego Student Chapter

University of Central Arkansas Student Chapter

University of Connecticut Student Chapter

University of New England Student Chapter

University of Northern Iowa Student Chapter

University of Pittsburgh Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico at Cayey Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon Campus Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus Student Chapter

University of Saint Thomas Student Chapter

University of Tennessee at Martin Student Chapter

University of Texas at Tyler Student Chapter

University of Toledo Student Chapter

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Chapter

Waynesburg University Student Chapter

West Virginia State University Student Chapter


If your student chapter is registered for the upcoming Program-in-a-Box, “Chemistry Rocks! Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals,” on October 24, 2017, please note that this does count as one of your green chemistry activities for the next awards in 2018.


There is also an exciting opportunity for student chapter leaders to share their teams’ successes with the broader chemistry community at the next ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. ACS GCI and Beyond Benign will be partnering to host the session “Green Chemistry Student Chapters: Stories of Success.” We encourage students interested in participating to submit an abstract to highlighting your team’s work in green chemistry. Those who submit accepted abstracts will be invited to present at the meeting on their chapters’ activities.


Need more support in brainstorming cool chemistry activities that quality for the Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award? Check out the ACS GCI Student Chapter Guides and informative videos for more ideas.


Congratulations to the 53 chapters who won this year’s awards!


We look forward to seeing all the new green chemistry projects that student chapters put together next year.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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 Marta Gmurczyk, Manager, ACS Safety Programs


In 2009, just a year after I had been appointed to serve as the ACS staff liaison for the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety (CCS), the entire safety community was devastated to learn about a tragic accident where a young researcher at the UCLA died from burn injuries she suffered while working with a pyrophoric solution of tert-Butyllithium. More accidents in educational settings followed, and calls for changes in the safety education processes and safety culture were becoming increasingly vocal, both within and outside the American Chemical Society.


The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety recognized this need and formed the Safety Culture Task Force, inviting partners from a number of ACS committees and divisions to join an effort to identify the elements and best practices of a good safety culture; offer specific recommendations that could be used by universities and colleges to strengthen their safety cultures; and identify tools and resources that would be beneficial to advancing these efforts. The final report, “Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions,” was published in 2012 and identified the following elements of a strong safety culture:


  • Leadership and Management of Safety
  • Teaching Basic Laboratory and Chemical Safety through Continuous and Integrated Safety Education
  • Safety Attitudes, Safety Awareness and Safety Ethics
  • Learning from Incidents
  • Collaborative Interactions that Help Build Strong Safety Cultures
  • Promoting and Communicating Safety


The report also made 17 specific recommendations to create vibrant, effective safety cultures in academic institutions. One of the recommendations called for ensuring that graduating chemistry students have strong skills in laboratory safety and strong safety ethics by integrating safety education into each laboratory session, as well as evaluating these skills throughout the educational process. The report also recommended implementing hazard analysis procedures in all lab work, especially laboratory research.


These recommendations resonated with the academic community as indicated by the overwhelming interest in the report — over 4,000 copies were distributed — but also uncovered needs for additional guidance and resources. One faculty member summed it up well after a conversation about safety education, saying, “If I knew what to teach, I would.” Educators have made significant efforts to reduce risks in teaching laboratories by using less hazardous chemicals and more controlled procedures to make environments much safer for students, but will such education prepare graduates for less controlled, riskier laboratory work in their professions? The consequences of not integrating safety training into chemical education might not be felt directly by the academic community, but its impacts are significant on graduates and the institutions that employ them.


Many companies have accepted the fact that they need to invest time and energy into developing safety training courses for their new bachelor's degree employees. Likewise, middle and high school chemistry/science teachers are responsible and accountable for the safe conduct of their students – yet safety education is not integrated in their pedagogical preparation. Multiple incidents involving demonstrations with methanol that have seriously burned numerous students and teachers; these are accidents that could have been prevented if teachers had a foundation on the technical aspects of chemical safety.


To assist teachers and faculty members with integrating safety education into their students’ chemistry curriculum, the committee published “Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools” and “Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Academic Institutions.”


The well-established ACS publication “Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories” has also been revised to provide students with an overview of the key issues related to the safe use of chemicals during the first two years of undergraduate chemistry education. The publication shifts one’s focus from safety based on rules to safety taught through the four RAMP principles: 1) recognize the hazards, 2) assess the risks of the hazards, 3) minimize the risks of the hazards, and 4) prepare for emergencies. Such a safety education emphasizes understanding hazards in terms of scientific principles, including reactions, thermodynamics, structure-activity relationships, assessment of risk of hazards, practices to minimize risks of hazards, and preparations for emergencies. This approach develops students’ ability to understand the principles and applications of safety and teaches them to think critically about safety to make decisions that will keep themselves and those around them safe.


ACS also responded to requests made by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) after its investigation of a serious accident at Texas Tech University in 2010 where a chemistry graduate student was seriously injured. The Board noted in the report that “current standards on hazard evaluations, risk assessment and hazard mitigation are geared toward industrial settings and are not transferrable to the academic research laboratory environment” and asked ACS to help. ACS accepted the CSB recommendations and developed the guide and tools to assess and control hazards in a research laboratory. We have come a long way in the past 10 years. ACS’s engagement with safety education contributed to a desired shift from a culture of compliance to a culture of safety where safety concepts and practices are more integrated in education and research.


Recently, ACS has elevated safety as a core value of the Society, and ACS Publications initiated a new safety reporting requirement that states that journal authors must “emphasize any unexpected, new, and/or significant hazards or risks associated with the reported work.”


I am the first full-time staff member to manage ACS safety programs. The position is housed in the newly-created Scientific Advancement Division, which also houses the Green Chemistry Institute (GCI). The proximity of these two programs naturally creates a connection between them, which I am committed to exploring.


In the emerging culture of safety, both chemistry education and research practices incorporate the explicit analysis of hazards and risks related to any laboratory activity. Both the culture of safety and the culture of green chemistry also call for this mindset, where critical assessment and preparation is built into planning with a purpose to minimize unexpected or potentially hazardous outcomes. Reflecting a growing awareness of green chemistry thinking, the culture is also shifting from regulating and banning, to one where products are designed to be synthesized in a way that reduces or eliminates the use of hazardous substances in the first place.


With the renewed ACS emphasis on safety come new opportunities to connect green chemistry to safety culture efforts. In the end, both efforts strive to lower risks to human health in the laboratory and make chemistry more sustainable for the planet.


If you wish to find out more about the ACS safety resources or share your thoughts on connections between green chemistry and the culture of safety, please contact me at



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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.

This year marks the 30th year of National Chemistry Week (NCW), which will be celebrated October 22-28. NCW is a wonderful opportunity for chemists to share their passion for chemistry with the general public, and working with your ACS local section or student chapter makes it easy to communicate the benefits of chemistry to your family, friends, and neighbors. The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® has partnered with ACS Program-in-a-Box to offer “Chemistry Rocks!  Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals” on Tuesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. EDT. Information on joining this interactive broadcast is available at ocks.html.


I had the pleasure of joining the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable meeting in Ingelheim, Germany on October 3-5. The hospitality offered by our hosts at Boehringer Ingelheim was exceptional! The Pharmaceutical Roundtable continues to be extremely active and productive by awarding research grants; developing tools, such as the process mass intensity calculation tool; creating and disseminating guides, including solvent and reagent guides; and publishing key research articles. These activities support the Roundtable’s strategic priorities of informing and influencing the research agenda, providing tools to accelerate innovation, educating leaders, and fostering global collaboration. Please contact Isamir Martinez at if you would like to know more about the work of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable or ACS GCI’s other industry Roundtables focused on Chemical Manufacturing, Formulations, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Biochemical Technology.


We are deep into planning the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, which will be held in Portland, Oregon, from June 18-20, 2018. The organizing committee is currently reviewing symposia proposals, and abstract submission will open on January 4, 2018.  We are thrilled to welcome Joe DeSimone, the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina and CEO of Carbon, Inc., as a keynote speaker!


The 2018 Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy will return to the Colorado School of Mines on July 10-17, 2018. The program is open to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. We will begin accepting Summer School applications in mid-November, so please check back next month at for additional information.





“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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.

HandaLipshutz.pngProfessors Bruce Lipshutz, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California – Santa Barbara, and Sachin Handa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Louisville, have been awarded the Peter J. Dunn Award for Green Chemistry and Engineering Impact in the Pharmaceutical Industry.


Lipshutz and Handa have developed newly engineered catalysts for sustainable surfactant chemistry in water. They have demonstrated the use of nanomicelles and nanocatalysis to successfully carry out reactions of great relevance and that are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry. The use of a water-based system coupled with a significant reduction in the use of platinum group metals resulted in significant sustainability advantages for the industry.


The winners will be honored during a symposium at the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference to be held on June 18-20, 2018, in Portland, Oregon.


The Peter J. Dunn Award was established in 2016 by the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. The award recognizes outstanding industrial implementation of novel green chemistry and/or engineering in the pharmaceutical industry that demonstrates compelling environmental, safety, cost and/or efficiency improvements over current technologies.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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 Malka Doshi, Green Relations Officer, Green ChemisTree Foundation


The ACS Green Chemistry Institute is once again partnering with the Green ChemisTree Foundation, India for the 5th Industrial Green Chemistry World (IGCW-2017) Convention and Ecosystem, scheduled on October 5-6, 2017 in Mumbai, India.


The IGCW Convention series is uniquely designed around the central theme of Profitability from Industrial Green Chemistry and Engineering. Since 2009, four biennial IGCW Conventions have seen a growing number of industry stakeholders of both national and international repute converge in Mumbai.


The IGCW ecosystem brings together key stakeholders in the Indian chemical industry – including senior government officials, chief decision-makers from industry, green chemistry and engineering experts, solution-providers, and research organizations – on a common platform with a single agenda to accelerate the implementation of green chemistry and engineering practices in India.


The 5th IGCW-2017 marks the completion of the “GC&E Awareness phase” in India and propels the start of the “GC&E Implementation phase.” In this broader context, IGCW-2017 has expanded its scope and structure to incorporate subject-specific themes across the two-day convention that will be explored during the nine following concurrent events:


Convention and Ecosystem.jpg

  • The IGCW Symposium showcases the IGCW Convention & Ecosystem’s mission by bringing together the world’s best industrial practices and success stories on green chemistry and engineering.

  • The SERB-IGCW Awards collaborate with the Department of Science & Technology of the Government of India to highlight outstanding initiatives in green chemistry and engineering  launched by industry, start–ups, and the knowledge community.

  • The IGCW-EXPO will bring together 40+ technology providers from all over the globe that offer green chemistry and engineering solutions needs of  the Indian chemical industry.

  • The IGCW-PCB Conference will feature talks by senior representatives of the State and Central Pollution Control Boards to explore their roles in the implementation of green chemistry and engineering practices to facilitate pollution prevention.

  • The IGCW-FSC Flow Chemistry Workshop seeks to expand awareness and understanding of flow chemistry technologies and their applications.

  • IGCW-GC&E Emerging Tools & Technologies is integrated into the IGCW ecosystem with the objective to provide a platform for participating companies to gain a first-hand understanding of emerging tools and technologies with respect to their  green chemistry and engineering applications.

  • The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) Workshop on Solvent & Reagent Selection Guide will be conducted by experts from the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR), focused on accessing the solvent and reagent selection guide and other green chemistry and engineering tools as developed and used by GCIPR member companies.

  • The IGCW 1800 seminars are subject-specific seminars on relevant topics related to the industrialization of green chemistry and engineering applications. The selected topics are: Green Processes, Green Catalysts, Green Solvents & Green Engineering.

  • The IGCW CSIR Industry Workshops  will connect the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Lab’s green-chemistry-and-engineering-related projects to senior representatives in the chemical industry. CSIR scientists will share success stories, present potential collaborative models, and showcase subject-specific competencies.


For more details on IGCW-2017, or to learn how you can get involved, please email



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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.

Despite the wide variety of chemistry conducted as part of drug discovery and development and the undoubted ingenuity of the chemists conducting the research, the majority of reactions still fall into a relatively small number of categories.


With this in mind, chemists in the industry have previously sought[i],[ii] to offer guidance that both encourages chemists to use greener reagents by first intent and provides a simple, easy-to-use reference for greener alternatives to be considered when reactions are repeated and/or scaled up.


More recently, the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable has brought together contributions from multiple pharmaceutical companies to provide a more comprehensive set of reagent guides that you can find at


Guides are freely available for 11 transformations: oxidation to aldehyde and ketones, nitro reduction, N-alkylation, O-dealkylation, ester deprotection, epoxidation, Boc deprotection, amide reduction, bromination, reductive amination, and metals removal.


Additional guides on Buchwald-Hartwig amination, iodination and chlorination are currently only available to members of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable, but are scheduled to be rolled out to a wider audience soon. The Roundtable will be developing and releasing additional guides over time.


A tutorial on the guides is available here:


venn-large.pngEach circle of the Venn diagram represents a different criterion –  those being ‘scalability,’ ‘greenness’ and ‘wide utility.’


The ideal reagent will have all three characteristics and appear in the middle (green area) of the Venn diagram, whereas some reagents have one of the traits but none of the others or a mix of two but not the third.


Placement within the Venn diagram can change with many variables, including solvent, catalyst, treatment of wastes, etc.


Good green chemistry requires the chemist to look across a range of factors before making the best choice. With the inclusion of information like atom efficiency, ecotoxicology/toxicology profiles, safety issues, waste products, sustainable feedstocks and more, we hope these guides give promotion to some reagents as compared to others. A  holistic approach is encouraged, however. For example, if a ‘greener’ reagent gives a much lower yield or requires multiple steps, the overall benefit may be outweighed (i.e., it may give rise to a higher footprint in the wider context) compared to an initially less ‘green’ reagent.



The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute’s Pharmaceutical Roundtable (“the Roundtable”) has created this Reagent Guide to inform and guide users toward greener reagents for various chemical transformations. The Roundtable has used reasonable efforts in collecting, preparing and providing quality information and material, but does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy or currency of the information contained in the Reagent Guide. By downloading, viewing and utilizing information from the Reagent Guide, visitors assume full responsibility for their own actions and any damages or liabilities that may result from the utilization of information obtained from the Reagent Guide. Should you have any questions or comments about the Reagent Guide or this disclaimer, please send an e-mail to


[i] Green chemistry tools to influence a medicinal chemistry and research chemistry based organisation

K. Alfonsi, J. Colberg, P. J. Dunn,* T. Fevig, S. Jennings, T. A. Johnson, H. P. Kleine, C. Knight, M. A. Nagy, D. A. Perry*, M. Stefaniak. Green Chem. 2008, 10, 31–36.


[ii] Development of GSK’s Reagent Guides – Embedding Sustainability into Reagent Selection

J. P. Adams, C. M. Alder, I. Andrews, A. M. Bullion, M. Campbell-Crawford, M. G. Darcy, J. D. Hayler, R. K. Henderson, C. A. Oare, I. Pendrak, A. M. Redman, L. E. Shuster, H. F. Sneddon,* M. D. Walker. Green Chem. 2013, 15, 1542-1549.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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 Mary M. Kirchhoff, Ph.D., Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®; Executive Vice President of Scientific Advancement, ACS


Summer is always a busy season for the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (GCI), and this year was no exception. My colleagues and I enjoyed seeing so many of you in June at the 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Your feedback on the technical symposia, networking events and poster sessions in Reston are already helping to shape next year’s conference, which is being chaired by Julie Haack from the University of Oregon and Richard Blackburn from the University of Leeds. The 22nd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference will be returning to Portland, Oregon from June 18-20, 2018.


The Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy was held the week following the conference at the Colorado School of Mines. Fifty-three graduate students and postdoctoral scholars from the U.S., Canada and Latin America participated in the week-long program. Participants presented their research during poster sessions, engaged in lectures on specific topics in green chemistry and sustainable energy, and conducted a modified Life Cycle Analysis to determine the “greenest” pathway toward a target molecule. Presentations on careers, publishing, and proposal writing rounded out the week – along with a white water rafting trip.  The program is supported by a generous grant from the ACS Petroleum Research Fund.


I was thrilled to attend last month’s Green & Sustainable Chemistry (GSC-8) Conference in Melbourne, Australia. The conference was part of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s Centenary Congress, an event that encompassed nine conferences and engaged approximately 3,500 attendees, making it the largest chemistry conference ever held in Australia! The GSC-8 Conference was highly international, with plenary talks delivered by scientists from Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, the UK and the US. I am delighted that the next Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference (GSC-9) will be held in 2019 in conjunction with the 23rd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Reston, Virginia.


We are now finalizing preparations for the ACS National Meeting, which begins in Washington, D.C., this week. Numerous symposia feature green chemistry talks, and I encourage you search the program by topic (green chemistry) to identify symposia of interest to you. We look forward to seeing you in Washington over the coming week!





“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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 Samy Ponnusamy, Ph.D., Fellow, Green Chemistry, MilliporeSigma; and Jeffrey Whitford, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Branding, MilliporeSigma


Picture1.pngSummary: MilliporeSigma created a unique, web-based greener alternative scoring matrix, also known as DOZN: a quantitative green chemistry evaluator based on the 12 principles of green chemistry. The 12 principles of green chemistry provide a framework for learning about green chemistry and designing or improving materials, products, processes and systems. DOZN scores products based on metrics for each principle and aggregates the principle scores to derive a final aggregate score. The system calculates scores based on manufacturing inputs, Globally Harmonized System (GHS) and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) information, which provide a green score for each substance. DOZN is flexible enough to encompass the diverse portfolio of products, ranging from chemistry to biology-based products. The DOZN system has also been verified and validated by a third party to ensure best practices are applied, and a peer reviewed paper has been published on it recently. This new greener chemistry initiative offers customers an increased breadth of greener alternative products with confirmatory documentation to validate greener characteristics.


Introduction: Green chemistry is the concept of developing chemical products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances, reduce waste, and reduce demand on diminishing resources. Paul Anastas and John Warner developed the foundation that has served as the global framework of green chemistry. That framework proposes 12 complementary principles around resource efficiency and risk (human health and environmental) minimization and targeting a life-cycle perspective (e.g., raw materials extraction, chemical production, and end-of-life bioaccumulation and biodegradation). Ultimately, these 12 principles were adopted by American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute (GCI).


The 12 principles are only conceptual and do not provide a quantitative framework. While various approaches to quantifying greener processes and products have been proposed, there is no unifying set of metrics in place. After a review of the current state of green chemistry methods, MilliporeSigma developed DOZN, a quantitative green chemistry evaluator, and leveraged generally accepted industry practices.


Quantitative Green Chemistry Evaluator:


The design objectives developed by MilliporeSigma industrial chemists included the following:


  1. Allow for direct comparison between alternative chemicals considered for the same application as well as direct comparison between alternative synthesis manufacturing processes considered for the same chemical product.
  2. Allow transparent comparison against each of the 12 principles and for each of the three major stewardship categories: resource efficiency, human health and environmental hazard, and energy use.
  3. Provide sufficient flexibility to apply to the diverse product portfolio.
  4. Be inexpensive to implement by utilizing readily available data.
  5. Be based on generally accepted industry practices when available.
  6. Be easy to communicate the method and results to customers.


Considering these guiding elements, we investigated and designed an approach to evaluate and score chemical products and processes on each of the 12 principles.


Categories: DOZN groups the 12 principles into like categories, allowing for a focus on overarching green chemistry categories of hazard, resource use and energy efficiency. These category groupings and scores are shown in Table 1:

  • Improved resource use
  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Reduced human and environmental hazards


Greener Alternatives Example Results:


Table 1

Category and Related Principles


1-Aminobenzotriazole Process

Re-engineered –

1-Aminobenzotriazole Process

Principle Score

Principle Score

Improved Resource Use

Principle 1: Prevention



Principle 2: Atom Economy



Principle 7: Use of Renewable Feedstock



Principle 8: Reduce Derivatives



Principle 9: Catalysis



Principle 11: Real-Time Analysis for Pollution Prevention



Increased Energy Efficiency

Principle 6: Design for Energy Efficiency



Reduced Human and Environmental Hazards

Principle 3: Less Hazardous Chemical Synthesis



Principle 4: Designing Safer Chemicals



Principle 5: Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries



Principle 10: Design for Degradation



Principle 12: Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention



Aggregate Score*



*Aggregate Score is calculated by averaging each category’s scores and summing three category scores to get the single score. Then this will be further normalized (divided by 50) to get an aggregate score from zero to 100 scales (zero being the most desired).


The GCM is advantageous over existing approaches because it provides metrics that are (1) inexpensive to implement with readily available data, (2) based on generally accepted industry practices when available, and (3) easy to communicate, both method and results, to customers. Sustainability programs that implement the proposed approach should anticipate the following benefits:

  • Measurement: Ability to use on-hand data sources or establish straightforward data collection programs
  • Calculations: Ability to utilize well-defined metrics to calculate the benefits of the 12 principles of green chemistry
  • Communication: Ability to transparently communicate greener alternatives to customers


Based on the feedback from customers, MilliporeSigma is currently working on expanding DOZNsystem (DOZN2.0) so customers can screen their products/processes to get DOZN scores. This would help our customers select the greener products for their research/manufacturing to promote sustainability.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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 Juan Colberg, Green Chemistry Leader/Senior Director of Chemical Technology, Pfizer; Javier Magano, Principal Scientist, Pfizer; and John Wong, Research Fellow, Pfizer


2012 marked the 10-year anniversary of Pfizer’s Green Chemistry Program, a program that focuses on education, innovation, solvent and waste reductions, the use of safer chemistry, greener processes, cost savings, and colleague engagement. Now, five years on from the 10-year anniversary, our Green Chemistry Program continues to promote, internally and externally, the selection and use of environmentally preferable chemicals, eliminating waste and conserving energy in our chemical processes.


As Pfizer’s portfolio evolves, so does its Green Chemistry Program. Efforts are not narrowly focused on small molecules for the Pfizer Innovative Health portfolio, but broadly include Biopharma and the Essential Health portfolios as well. An important part of the program’s success has been the commitment from Pfizer to provide and support the creation of ways to share knowledge, best practices and techniques across the organization, as well as educating future chemists and engineers in colleges and universities.


As part of these efforts, we have engaged our internal and external communities with a series of educational workshops to promote the application of green chemistry principles and the use of more environmentally sustainable technologies and approaches.


Green Chemistry Workshops at Pfizer


Education is one of the key elements of Pfizer’s Green Chemistry Program. Recognizing the importance of green chemistry education, Pfizer has hosted or participated in at least one workshop annually beginning in 2003.


From 2003 to 2006, workshops were held at the Pfizer R&D site in Groton, Connecticut. These workshops, titled “Sustainable Chemistry in the Pharmaceutical Industry,” began with a reception and dinner on the first day and featured a keynote address. The second day was a full day featuring presentations and interactive breakout sessions.


John Warner was an important participant in these workshops and presented “The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry: From Philosophy to the Flask.” Pfizer colleagues gave presentations on various topics involving the application of green chemistry in the development of Pfizer drugs. The breakout sessions gave students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of green chemistry to case studies based on Pfizer drugs. For instance, the case studies presented during the breakout sessions in 2004 were based on sertraline and sildenafil, the active pharmaceutical ingredients in Zoloft® and Viagra® respectively.


Participants in the workshops were selected from colleges and universities in the Northeast. Participation in 2004 was similar to the other years in which this workshop was conducted and included 28 students from 13 institutions in six states (Connecticut: Connecticut College, UCONN, University of St. Joseph; Massachusetts: Bridgewater State, UMASS Amherst, UMASS Boston, Gordon College, Simmons College, Suffolk University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire; Rhode Island: University of Rhode Island; Vermont: University of Vermont). Overall, these workshops hosted at the Pfizer R&D site in Groton were well received based on feedback from students. Notably, two participants from the 2004 workshop became Pfizer colleagues.



Pfizer has also promoted green chemistry education outreach activities in other sites across the U.S. and Europe.


Workshop on Wheels (WOW)


With the great success of the Pfizer green chemistry workshops hosted in Groton, we decided to expand the program by engaging faculty members and reaching students from a broader range of disciplines. In 2007, the Groton Green Chemistry Team conceived the “Workshop on Wheels (WOW),”in which the workshop was set to be conducted at a college or university with a small team of Pfizer colleagues. An important element of “WOW” was the active engagement of faculty and students in organizing and conducting these workshops.


The first “WOW” was held at the University of Puerto Rico in 2007, hosted by Professor Ingrid Montes (currently Director-at-Large, ACS Board of Directors), followed by one in UCONN hosted by Professor Amy Howell. Since 2007, Pfizer has partnered with nine institutions (Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, UMASS Boston, University of Rhode Island, Wesleyan Univeristy, Worcester Polytechnic, and Yale University) to bring “WOW” to their campuses. The “WOW” held at UMASS Boston in 2016 is the subject of a previous Nexus article.


Pfizer remains committed to green chemistry education and is planning a return trip to University of Rhode Island for its 2017 “WOW,” hosted by Professor Brenton DeBoef.


Workshop Focus Shifting to New, Greener Technologies


While the format of Pfizer’s green chemistry workshops has remained consistent, with presentations by Pfizer colleagues and invited speakers as well as an interactive breakout session, the focus of the topics has shifted from a basic application of the 12 Principles to applications of novel, greener technologies.


Thus, the last few years have seen the development of a number of talks by green chemistry team colleagues that cover diverse and increasingly important areas of chemistry, leading to more environmentally benign processes that have become some of the workshop attendees’ favorite topics.


  • Biocatalysis: The use of enzymes in drug manufacturing has seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to enzyme engineering, resulting in highly-active and versatile biocatalysts that enable highly efficient processes. In addition, due to the chiral nature of enzymes, these catalysts are particularly well-suited for the generation of chiral centers in the products, which is of special interest in the pharmaceutical industry. A great example that is analyzed by the attendees of the “WOW”breakout sessions is a route to pregabalin (LyricaTM), in which the enzyme is used to resolve a diester. This then allows for the separation of the compound with the desired chirality leading to pregabalin, whereas the compound with undesired stereochemistry undergoes racemization and can be recycled and fed back into the process with the consequent improvements in yield and waste reduction. Another outstanding example of biocatalysis application that is presented is the synthesis of the side chain of statins, such as Lipitor, which replaced the original reduction to generate a stereocenter using toxic and pyrophoric chemicals.

  • Flow chemistry: Most of the current processes under development or at the commercial stage in the pharmaceutical industry are run in batch mode. One reason for this is familiarity – process chemists are more familiar with batch processing and the large investment made over years in the existing batch process infrastructure at pharmaceutical plants. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that processes on flow have many advantages over batch mode, including improved safety when dealing with unstable reagents, smaller investments in equipment, lower solvent consumption, and efficient heat removal from exothermic reactions. Pfizer, as well as other pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions, is investing heavily in this technology as a way to manufacture drugs “on-demand” to reduce cost and improve carbon footprint.

  • Catalysis using non-precious metals: Catalysis is one of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry and is frequently used in the synthesis of drug candidates. Unfortunately, most of the metals currently used in catalysis are precious metals, such as palladium, iridium, rhodium, platinum and ruthenium. Besides cost, a concern related to the use of these metals is their toxicity, which requires extensive purification protocol to bring levels down to acceptable values with the concomitant increase in waste, as well as their long-term supply due to their scarcity in the Earth’s crust.

    Pfizer, as part of an alliance with other pharmaceutical companies, has embarked in an ambitious program to replace those precious metals with more sustainable alternatives, such as iron, nickel and copper. These three metals are abundant, inexpensive, and display lower toxicity than precious metal catalysts, which contribute to turning catalysis into an even more attractive technology for the synthesis of drug candidates.

    Pfizer colleagues have discussed this topic during their presentations at “WOW” by showing examples from literature and comparing advantages and drawbacks for the use of these metals. Though there is still a long way to go in replacing precious metals altogether with greener alternatives, progress is being made almost daily in both academia and industry, and theses presentations intend to inform the audience about the rewards of employing iron, nickel and copper in catalytic processes and the long-term risks of not further investing now in those technologies.


Passion for green chemistry continues to be the driver for so many Pfizer colleagues around the world to support these types of activities – passion that has continued growing across all these years since the program’s creation.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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.

This article was originally published on VentureWell's blog.


shutterstock_49448494-910x620.jpgGreen chemistry is evolving to respond to a host of health and environmental challenges. Like most complex social issues, future science and technology professionals and entrepreneurs will be charged with addressing these problems through innovation. They will have their work cut out for them, but there will be tremendous demand for their solutions.


According to Pike Research, green chemistry represents a market opportunity that will soar to nearly $100 billion by 2020. But will industry be prepared to meet this opportunity? Are tomorrow’s scientists equipped with an understanding of green chemistry principles? We spoke with John Warner, one of the founders of the green chemistry field, about the competitive advantage chemistry students will have in industry, and how universities can better prepare graduates to meet the increasing demand for the discipline.


Can you illustrate the demand for green chemists in industry?


I started a green chemistry program at the University of Massachusetts. It had everything you would find in a normal chemistry program but I added several one-semester classes including mechanistic toxicology and environmental mechanisms. During my time at UMASS, about 120 students at various levels –  undergrad and grad – worked in my labs. The average time it took one of those students to get a job in industry was only two days. The longest it took a student to secure a job was two weeks–and that’s because she turned down the first six job offers. Companies continue to ask if I know of any graduating green chemists.


From your perspective, how can faculty and universities respond to this increased demand for green chemists?


The simple answer is to add green chemistry to the curriculum in some way: a stand-alone class, a lab, or some other way to share best practices.


There also needs to be a shift in mindset. Historically, chemists were taught to develop ways to contain, control and limit the amount of toxic chemicals emitting from reactors and products. They didn’t consider making safer materials. They believed that chemistry was inherently dangerous. The curriculum needs to think about chemistry through a sustainable lens. It should focus more on what makes molecules and materials dangerous, and less on how to limit the exposure to dangerous things.


There’s also an opportunity to find more overlap and interaction between different disciplines such as toxicology and environmental health sciences. For decades people have been learning what makes molecules and materials hazardous. There are countless textbooks written. There are conferences where practitioners share ideas and research. However, each discipline rarely interacts. They don’t even really share the same language. Yet it’s the overlap of these two sciences that define green chemistry. More integration between disciplines means more opportunities to bridge the gap between chemistry, hazard and design.


What are some immediate needs for green chemists in industry?


There is a great disconnect between true sustainability and design. The design community is often tasked with developing sustainable products that won’t harm the environment, require little natural resources to produce and maintain, and so on. Unfortunately, many of the building blocks aren’t sustainable. The materials are made with toxic chemicals. How did this happen? Chemists are the only people in the world who are capable of inventing a new material, yet they are not part of the design process. They need to be part of the discussion from the beginning.


On the bright side, this disconnect creates opportunities for green chemists. The way products are currently developed is backwards. Designers are restricted to use what’s available to build something. Instead, chemists should be working on sustainable materials to hand off to the design community. They can figure out how to use the materials in various applications.  To drill down further, there are also immediate opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry such as developing new, more efficient synthetic methods for active pharmaceutical ingredients. In the industrial sector, there’s a great need for new materials and application mechanisms that avoid VOCs and remove or replace other hazardous materials used in construction applications.


What are the most important sectors that need to be improved from a green chemistry perspective?




Instead of deciding which sectors, technologies, materials, and endpoints in need of improvement, we must focus on how we train the scientists in the first place. If you teach chemists how to be more sustainable from the start, there’s a greater chance that anything they make throughout their career will be more sustainable.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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.

News Roundup Jun 2-22.png

New Method of Extracting Metals from Raw Materials

June 7, 2017 | Science Daily

A team of chemists has developed a way to process metals without using toxic solvents and reagents. The system, which also consumes far less energy than conventional techniques, could greatly shrink the environmental impact of producing metals from raw materials or from post-consumer electronics.


Biodegradable Microbeads Prevent Ocean Pollution

June 8, 2017 | University of Bath

Scientists and engineers from the University of Bath have developed biodegradable cellulose microbeads from a sustainable source that could potentially replace harmful plastic ones that contribute to ocean pollution.


Business Benefits of Sustainable Chemicals Management

June 16, 2017 | GreenBiz

In tandem with the rise in interest in green chemistry, companies are increasingly looking to gain business value from sustainable chemicals management.  The key concepts: reducing risk from existing and emerging regulations while also helping to build consumer trust, meet customer demands and reduce testing costs.


Wind and Solar Combined Surpass 10% U.S. Electricity Generation

June 19, 2017 | C&EN

Wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays provided slightly more than 10% of U.S. electricity generation in March.  This marks the first time these two renewables combined have made a double-digit contribution to the nation’s generation of electricity, says a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


Green Chemistry Efforts Honored

June 19, 2017 | C&EN

The 2017 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards hailed streamlined syntheses, dye-free printing, and more.  Five technologies were recognized and honored for their achievements and creativity at a ceremony held on June 12 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.


European Commission Publishes Catalog of Nanomaterials Used in Cosmetics on EU Market

June 19, 2017 | National Law Review

Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products requires the European Commission to publish a catalog of all nanomaterials used in cosmetics placed on the market, indicating the categories of products and the reasonably foreseeable exposure conditions.


New Soluble Polymer Removes 93% of Toxic PFOA Chemicals from Drinking Water

June 20, 2017 | C&EN

Long-chain perfluorinated chemicals contaminate millions of Americans’ drinking water. These compounds are a legacy of industrial pollution and the use of firefighting foam at military bases and airports; they persist in the environment because of their strong carbon-fluorine bonds. Now scientists have designed a cross-linked polymer that might more effectively remove one of the more prevalent and harmful of these compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid.


Helium Shortage Looms

June 22, 2017 | C&EN

The blockade of Qatar that started on June 5 has shut down the source of 30% of the world’s helium, threatening another round of shortages and price increases for scientific instrument users. Helium is used to cool nuclear magnetic resonance magnets and as a carrier gas for gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. The element is also used in medical imaging and electronics manufacturing, as well as to float dirigibles.

Click here for more information on Helium: us-blog/blog/2017/02/16/critical-elements-series-helium-shortage-to-occur-in-the -next-25-50-years

Contributed by Lauren Winstel, ACS Green Chemistry Institute® Research Assistant


The Green Chemistry Challenge awards, administered by the EPA in partnership with the American Chemical Society (ACS) and its ACS Green Chemistry Institute® , recognize and promote innovations in chemical technology that reduce waste and the use and generation of hazardous chemicals. Past winners have gone on to commercialize their technology, grow their company, and improve upon their process with the increased recognition that the award provides, often leading to third party funding or buyout offers.  The following is a summary and the future outlook of the most recent award winners, who were honored and recognized at the 21st Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Reston, Virginia last week.


1. Academic Category – Eric J. Schelter, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania



The 2017 award in the Academic category features targeted coordination chemistry towards separations and recycling of rare earth metals, using tailored metal complexes and ligand synthesis.  Rare earth metals are essential components in many modern technologies, from personal electronics and lighting to renewable energy. However, these applications require various mixtures of elements which are difficult to separate once combined. In order for rare earth metals to be reused, the pure elements need to be isolated and extracted from consumer products in various recycling streams, which is one of the biggest challenges related to critical elements. Electronic waste is currently an elemental sink, to the point that the amount of rare earth metals found in e-waste is greater than known quantity within global reserves of such metals.


In order to solve this problem, Professor Schelter and his research group have come up with a simple and cheap method of extraction using a ligand framework that takes advantage of solubility differences.  Through combining metal mixtures with a benzene or toluene solvent, solid-liquid equilibrium can be identified which allows for quick separation.  Using the example of Neodymium (Nd) and Dysprosium (Dy), which are often used in large magnets, Schelter’s experiments showed that when starting with a 50/50 mixture of the two elements, a single pass from the ligand framework created 98% pure separation, which is the minimum purity necessary for reuse.


When analyzing the greenness of this process, the use of benzene raises a few concerns. Schelter and his group are well aware and plan to address this unsustainable solvent in future iterations of the technology.  In the future, Schelter and his group plan to make modifications to the ligand framework, working towards using kinetic control to achieve purification, as well as focus on recycling chemistry and eventually attaching the ligand to a resin.


2. Small Business Category – UniEnergy Technologies, LLC

redox battery w-c.png


The 2017 award in the Small Business Category features an advanced vanadium redox flow battery for grid energy storage applications produced by UniEnergy Technologies.  The need for energy storage goes hand in hand with renewable energy technology – many arguments against solar and wind power focus on their inconsistency and lack of reliability over 24 hour days.  Unfortunately, times of maximum generation for such renewable technologies often do not correspond with maximum usage in the early mornings and late afternoons.  Without storage options, the produced power goes to waste.  However, if the abundance of energy produced during daylight hours or times of continuous wind patterns could be stored and used when needed, renewables would become more reliable and readily available than nearly any other energy source.


This new battery, called the UniSystemTM, achieves what many energy storage attempts have failed to do before.  The vanadium electrolyte technology represents a breakthrough chemistry technique due to the increased energy density and broader operating temperature, allowing for megawatt scale storage that can be deployed in nearly any location on Earth, while also using much fewer chemicals with increased stability. Active heat management and self-contained cooling allow the battery to regulate itself, while also holding the power and energy in separate tanks, allowing for flexible and tunable usage that is not possible with conventional batteries.  This battery also has a longer lifetime than those currently on the market, and all materials are fully recyclable and non-toxic at end of life since the vanadium electrolyte is water based, immutable and does not degrade.


3. Greener Synthetic Pathways Category – Merck & Co.


The 2017 award in the Greener Synthetic Pathways category features an improved formula for Letermovir, an antiviral therapeutic agent for treatment of human cytomegalovirus.  This pharmaceutical route is greener than the original method in many ways.  The original route featured only 10% yield, estimated CO2 emissions of 1,657 kg, as well as 9 different solvents throughout the process and late stage chiral resolution which can have unpredictable results. The new process features a more reliable late stage asymmetric aza-Michael transformation using a fully recyclable and chemically stable organocatalyst.  The greener route also achieves high conversion and purity, increasing overall yield by over 60% at a low cost, all while using a through process with only 2 solvents and recycled reagents.


The final catalyst in this process is toluene, which is not ideal.  However, a lot of effort was put towards optimizing this drug for sustainability and atom economy with positive results; the new process reduced the carbon footprint of Letermovir by 89% and water usage by 90%.  With future improvements, Merck believes that this process is only a few steps away from zero-waste manufacturing.


4. Greener Reaction Conditions Category – Amgen Inc. and Bachem


The 2017 award in the Greener Reaction Conditions category features an improved technology for solid phase peptide synthesis, created as part of a collaboration between Amgen and Bachem. The pharmaceutical industry is often very energy intensive with high consumption of water, as well as inefficiently using many different materials and solvents in high quantities while yielding very small amounts of product. Peptide-based pharmaceuticals are an important part of therapeutics, including ParasabivTM and its active ingredient Etelcalcetide which is used to treat hyperparathyroidism. The newly designed manufacturing process has improved upon many of the unsustainable factors: shortened development processes equating to a 56% decrease in manufacturing time; high coupling yields resulting in a 5-fold increase in manufacturing capacity; the elimination of 1,440 cubic meters of waste, including 750 cubic meters of aqueous waste; and a 51% decrease in solvent use creating much cleaner reactions.


The future of this process lies in continued solvent reevaluation – according to green chemistry principles as well as Amgen executives, “the best solvent is no solvent at all.” Due to its broad applicability, this synthesis process has the potential to be used for manufacturing of many other peptide-based pharmaceutical products in the future.


5. Designing Greener Chemicals Category – Dow Chemical Co. and Papierfabrik August Koehler SE



The 2017 award in the Designing Greener Chemicals category features a breakthrough sustainable imaging technology for thermal paper that uses air-voided structures.  Thermal paper is very prevalent in everyday life, widely used for point of sale receipts, tickets, tags, and labels, all of which are often quickly discarded after use. The new manufacturing method takes a process that was previously chemically intensive and environmentally toxic due to lack of recyclability, and turns that process into a physical change reaction that occurs completely void of chemical interaction.


The new paper consists of three simple layers.  The top layer is comprised of voided opaque polymers, with a colored layer underneath, followed by a base layer.  When heat is applied to the opaque layer, the air void particles instantly collapse to reveal the color below. This process eliminates the need for ink, avoids manufacturer and consumer exposure to imaging chemicals, as well as improves long term storage capabilities since the contrast created will not fade even under direct and severe sun exposure.  The final product is compatible with existing thermal printers and is also directly recyclable with normal paper recycling steams, which creates a new recycled feedstock potential that was previously sent into landfills.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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 By Samantha A. M. Smith, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto


2017gce.jpgThe ACS Green Chemistry Institute®’s (ACS GCI) Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference (GC&E) was kicked off with two simultaneous workshops, one of which was tailored toward students and post-doctoral fellows. During this workshop, we were placed into a hypothetical situation where we had to explain why we wanted to attend the GC&E Conference to our department chair. This seemed trivial for me as a University of Toronto student because our department chair is so supportive of our interest in green chemistry, however I quickly realized during this session that that may be a special case. I would like to discuss the reasons why a student, who may or may not be interested in green chemistry, should attend this conference.


First, I would like to touch on the average student’s experience of conferences. Generally, the conferences students attend are either very small, student-oriented, and focused on a particular division, or they are large and sometimes overwhelming national meetings. Either way, we find ourselves sitting in the same few rooms listening to the endless technical talks focused on our fields of expertise. These conferences can further our knowledge of our fields, and they are great places for networking with professors and students. But what about industrial and governmental presence? What about direct applications on a commercial scale? What about the toxicological effects or the measurements of such effects? These are not often the focus at conferences. They are generally geared toward the discoveries and results of chemical reactions, computations, and educational techniques.



The first thing I noticed at the GC&E Conference was that the atmosphere was very different. One of the first talks I attended was an intimate and rather unique conversation between the audience and the “Fathers of Green Chemistry,” John Warner and Paul Anastas, which was focused on the subject of the absence of toxicology in chemistry curricula. John Warner stated that, “If chemists were in toxicology, a lot of our problems would be solved.” Unfortunately, toxicology is not required for a chemistry degree.


In attending the GC&E Conference, I have been exposed to many different fields of chemistry that I was nott aware existed. I attended a talk on the recycling of carpet materials and another on the recycling of electronic waste. I have learned about how local food waste (biomass) can be transformed into components in beauty products and what challenges the apparel and footwear sectors are facing and how they are approached. Chemists from all sectors are discussing their challenges, experiences and innovations with regard to toxicology, waste, environmental and heath impacts, and complying with regulations.


The GC&E Conference was much smaller than I had anticipated in that the number of participants was drastically different than I am used to. A large percentage of speakers were from the chemical industry sector, which is something that is lacking at most chemistry conferences. The size was small enough that networking was easy and meeting very important people (directors of organizations, for example) was not really a challenge. Many times, I ran into a particular director who at a larger conference, I would not have been able to connect with. Not only is this great for me from a networking perspective, but because of the industrial presence, I gained an understanding of the challenges companies are facing and the current sustainable practices they use. I can take these perspectives back to the lab and apply them to my research, using them as tools to focus my research more toward solutions to common sustainability challenges.


The ACS GCI GC&E Conference has given me an experience difficult to replicate. I have connected with professionals well-advanced in their careers, chemists from a variety of industries, the “Fathers of Green Chemistry,” and many others whose passions are focused toward sustainability. I have listened to topics not normally present at chemistry conferences, learned about current challenges faced in industry, and analyzed what needs to fundamentally change in our educational sector. Most importantly, I have learned that sustainability is being implemented everywhere and that it is a worldwide goal.



So, for those of you who are passionate about green chemistry, or even those of you just beginning to think about green chemistry, I believe it is a conference that you should attend, as the benefits surpass the usual student experiences. GC&E will expose you to a widespread collection of exemplary science and discussion, which is proof enough that green chemistry is not only a sustainable movement, but it is also becoming a reality in academia and industry.



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, 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.