Skip navigation year, students from all over the world come to the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry & Sustainable Energy. This year, one student from Brazil, Thaíla de Mello Florêncio, took her knowledge gained from the program and co-authored a paper with her professor Geoffroy R.P. Malpass, Ph.D., Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineir, Instituto de Ciências Tecnológicas e Exatas, titled "A Brief Explanation of Environmental Licenses in Brazil."


"It is possible to say that nowadays in Brazil both economy and industry are entering an era of greater environmental awareness," write the authors. The paper goes on to survey the existing environmental regulations in Brazil, calling them "a promising system of evaluation for potentially hazardous activities", as well factors inhibiting the application of green chemistry principles to this system. "In Brazil the concept of Green Chemistry has not yet received the dissemination seen in other countries, even at academic levels, although this is changing," write the authors. As a result, even though "sustainable technologies are receiving a greater insertion in the market place," because of the lack of green chemistry knowledge, these advancements affect the environmental impact at the point of use, rather than at the beginning of the process, where green chemistry principles could make a real impact.


Read the paper: A Brief Explanation of Environmental Licenses in Brazil


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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home. the birth of green chemistry in the 1990's, there has been an ever increasing amount of research done to understand how to synthesize and design molecules in a framework that takes into account toxicity, process efficiency, and environmental impact. The environmental and economic benefits of green chemistry have been recognized by many, and especially by those involved in pharmaceutical R&D. However, until today, there has not been a comprehensive textbook dedicated to approaching medicinal chemistry from the lens of green chemistry.


"Green Techniques for Organic Synthesis and Medicinal Chemistry" fills that gap. Published by Wiley & Sons, Ltd. the book is authored and edited by Wei Zhang, Center for Green Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and Berkeley "Buzz" Cue, currently at BWC Pharma Consulting, LLC. and of the ACS GCI Governing Board, with the input of 65 contributing authors. Through 27 chapters, this book covers topics such as toxicity, green catalysis, green synthetic techniques, and green techniques specific to the pharmaceutical industry such as formulation and drug delivery.


Past ACS GCI Director, Bob Peoples, writes in the forward, "Few texts offer the unique integration of such a broad spectrum of disciplines and techniques in the context of an integrated analysis. The incorporation of green chemistry into the core curriculum is essential for the future practitioners of our science and this work by Zhang and Cue is an important step in that direction."


Indeed, when young chemists learn how to do their work with such a considered approach, the result is bound to change the way chemistry is done and have a positive impact on us all.


This article was originally published in “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.

by Jane Dmochowski, Ph.D., Managing Director, VIPER

VIPER Students

Pictured from left to right VIPER class of 2016: Anjali Khetan, Eric Lu, Meehir Pathare, Albert Xiao,
Julia Fordham, David (Jin Soo) Lim, Gerardo Cedillo Servin, and Connor Lippincott.


The University of Pennsylvania is kicking off its first year of a new program in energy research for undergraduates, the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER). Made possible through the generosity of Roy and Diana Vagelos, the dual-degree program between Penn's School of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Science is designed to educate undergraduate students in the science and technology of alternative and efficient methods of production, conversion and use of energy. The program takes advantage of existing expertise and resources at the University, combining coursework, research, and group activities to create an ideal environment for learning.


VIPER students will receive instruction and state-of-the-art research experiences, enabling them to pursue advanced degrees in fields relevant to energy science and to establish high caliber research careers as innovators in the discovery and development of sustainable ways to harness, convert, and use energy. The VIPER Class of 2016 students have started the first semester of their freshman year and are off to a great start. These eight students were selected for their scientific aptitude and their desire to combine science and engineering and get involved early in research. Their projects will aim to solve scientific and technological problems enabling the efficient use of current energy sources, the practical use of more sustainable energy, and the facile conversion of energy to different forms.


The class will take a common freshman seminar to introduce important research concepts. Over the course of VIPER's four-year program — five, if students pursue a master's degree — students will embark on research early in their academic career, and spend summers on campus working with faculty with expertise in physics, chemistry, biology, math, and across the fields of chemical, mechanical, systems, and electrical engineering and materials science. Students have many additional opportunities to attend lectures and meet leading researchers through Pennergy: the Penn Center for Energy Innovation.

This article was originally published in “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.

By Phllip Jessop, Ph.D., Technical Director, GreenCentre Canada


More and more green chemistry technologies are being invented at the chemistry and chemical engineering departments of universities, but far too few of those technologies actually make it to market. The problem is the commercialization gap: industry expects more than academics can deliver. Industry usually wants technologies that are proven to be scalable, optimized for specific applications, synthesized on a kg scale, and largely de-risked. Academics can’t deliver that. So, without intervention, academic discoveries fail to make it to market. this problem, the Canadian and Ontario governments funded the creation of a non-profit organization, GreenCentre Canada, in 2009, to help green chemistry technologies overcome the commercialization gap.


GreenCentre, a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research and a member of the Ontario Network of Excellence, takes a “hands on” approach to commercializing green chemistry innovations originating from academia and industry. Technologies sent to GreenCentre are assessed for their commercial potential (economics, strength of the IP position, competing products) and their estimated environmental impact compared to current technologies. Those technologies that look strong in all categories are in-licensed, then developed, de-risked, and scaled up in GreenCentre’s labs, and finally presented, as a strong business case, to industry. GreenCentre’s collaboration with industry partners combined with their real world experience in product, application and business development, intellectual property management, and scale-up manufacturing, offers researchers and entrepreneurs the expertise and resources they need to advance their technologies to market. For industry, GreenCentre offers a “one-stop shop” to Canada’s best chemistry and material science technologies, offering convenient access to intellectual property and a suite of technical, business and IP related services.


This article was originally published in “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 we really need is a biological alternative to industry.” This was the comment that Stephen del Cardayre remembers Berkeley Professor Joe Neilands making to him one day over lunch many years ago. Although he can’t remember the exact quote, the idea stuck in his head and motivated the young biochemist. Stephen is the VP of Research and Development for LS9, a company poised to bring biochemicals and biofuels to market using an innovative approach based on one-step biological catalysis. “The technology is based on a simple process,” Stephen says. After listening to the extensive amount of research that went into creating this technology—research that garnered LS9 the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2010—it would be fair to say that it’s the kind of simplicity that’s on the other side of complexity, which is exactly what makes it so powerful.


The idea is this: engineer bacteria so that when they consume their natural food—carbohydrates, a.k.a sugar—they produce a specific product which is released from their cells and floats to the surface as an oil layer that can easily be removed through centrifugation. Change the bacteria to a differently engineered set, and using the same equipment and the same process, you end up with a different industrial product. It’s a fantastically interchangeable system.


To begin with, the company plans to produce “drop in” products—products that are straight alternatives to those produced in traditional ways. “These products will compete primarily on economic terms,” emphasizes Stephen. It’s an important point. There is a common misperception that sustainable products and processes are inherently more expensive—and yet green chemistry principles, with their focus on efficiency and waste reduction, are most commonly embraced by industry because inspire cost saving innovations.


For example, the existing production of fatty alcohols, an ingredient in surfactants—detergents, dispersants, foaming agents, and the like—is commercially produced from petrochemicals, palm kernel and coconut oil. During production, byproducts are generated that are less desirable in the marketplace, creating inefficiencies. Through LS9’s process, engineered bacteria consume sugars and produce the exact fatty alcohol chain of interest, with few byproducts, saving on production costs. recently opened a demonstration facility in Florida to produce pre-commercial batches big enough for commercial testing and to optimize large scale production. On Sept 10th, the company announced that its first production cycle of fatty alcohol at the 135,000 liter scale was successful and met their technical goals. After additional test runs of fatty alcohol, the Florida plant will go on to test diesel fuel and ester chemical production.


The feedstock LS9’s microbes eat is sugar—any kind of sugar will do—but the cheapest sugar available today is cane syrup, and the biggest supplier is Brazil, which is why LS9 plans to open their first commercial plant in Brazil in 2014. A ten year study of sugar cane prices show that while prices go up and down, 85% of the time the economic model is favorable—meaning LS9 could produce products as cheap as or cheaper than those produced traditionally. There are additional advantages too—the technology opens the door for the possibility of creating higher quality products with tailored features in the future. And as second generation feedstocks come on line, such as sugars derived from the bagasse, waste glycerol from biodiesel production, and molasses, significant additional savings will result.


From the initial spark that afternoon in Berkeley, to a biotech business that does indeed look like a biological alternative to industry, Stephen and the other scientists on the team have put in years and years of research.  It’s no wonder that winning the PGCCA award in 2010 “had a big moral effect on the team.” As a prestigious and peer-reviewed evaluation, the PGGCA award is something that any group of people who are, as Stephen says, “all motivated to develop technology that has a positive impact on the planet” can be “extremely proud of.” Examples like these—and there are many others—give the younger generations a roadmap to visualize how green chemistry research can be put into action and have a tangible positive results.


This article was originally published in “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.

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