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C&EN recently published a business article about the 2nd Annual Plasticity Forum, which took place in Hong Kong, June 2013. The forum was convened to address the growing problems of plastic waste that accumulates in the environment. Plastic bags, bottles, and other single-use consumer materials accumulate in the environment, hurting wildlife and clogging waterways. The forum addressed ways to re-capture and recycle the debris.


Al Matlack,currently an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware appreciates the push for recycling, but has an issue with complete reliance on this approach. Dr. Matlack became an advocate of “green chemistry” after decades as a professional research chemist at the chemical company Hercules Inc. In 1994, He retired from industry and began teaching for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware. He is an active conservationist, longtime president of the Society of Natural History of Delaware, and won the Delaware Audubon’s Conservation Award in 2003.


He wrote a letter to the C&EN, which they printed in their August 19, 2013 issue. Dr. Matlack expanded upon his viewpoint for The Nexus. Here are some of Dr. Matlack’s thoughts on the subject:


“The business article [and the forum’s focus] on plastic waste misses a big part of the problem: our addiction to single-use throwaway items!


    • Recycling of plastics is largely a failure, with a rate of 9% for high density polyethylene, 16% for poly(ethylene terephthalate), 4% for plastic bags. Other plastics in the single stream system, such as LDPE and polystyrene are not recycled at all. The recycling of aluminum cans is only 54%.
    • Refillable beverage containers save money and materials. Single use throwaway items should be banned or taxed to encourage a shift back to reusables. There are examples of this approach working.
    • Ireland achieved a 90% reduction on the use of plastic grocery bags by putting a tax on them.  
    • A system in the Netherlands monitors, by gas chromatography, the headspace in returned water bottles. If anything unusual is found, an air jet blows the bottle off of the line. Bottles that pass the test are reused.
    • General Electric marketed bisphenol polycarbonate returnable bottles for orange juice that averaged 25 trips and half pint containers for milk that averaged 100 trips. After this, the containers were made into crates to carry new bottles. Customers who brought in a used container received a discount on a new one. Although this polymer is no longer accepted for use, Eastman Chemical's copolyester Tritan replacement could be used in the same way.
    • Bottled water is a waste of materials, energy and dollars. Some cities, including San Francisco, have banned it already.
    • Interface Co. of Georgia rents and maintains carpet so that when it needs to be replaced, it knows what it is getting back and can hydrolyze it, purify it and make new Nylon 6 from it.


Too many consumer goods are over-packaged. Bread in plastic film are put into another layer of plastic film with the store's brand on it. Perhaps a printed store label can be put on the first layer. Is shiny cellophane necessary as an over wrap? Some stores sell items in bulk. If you bring in your own container, you can refill it with milk or juices at a tap. I keep and reuse the thin plastic bags in the farmers market. It might be possible to have a vending machine at [store] entrances selling ten bags for $1.00 to discourage too much use.  


The fast food restaurant could put in a dishwashing system and use china plates and cups. Takeout orders could use paper plates with an extra fee. International agreements are needed to prevent dumping of waste from ships.”



Matlack also points out that the 20th century progress toward cheap goods and convenience has become a detriment to the environment. He suggests that a look to the past for some ideas on conservation might be in order:


“Fifty years ago, Coke came in a 6 oz returnable bottle. Today, 28 oz [plastic throwaway bottle] is more common. Egg cartons used to be made of paper. Consider paper wherever plastic is used now. Shredded or crumpled paper can be used to replace polystyrene peanuts for shipping.

When an appliance broke, you found a repair shop to fix it. Today, it is cheaper to junk it [creating more plastic, metal, and chemical trash] and buy a new one.”


In some places this trend is already on its way.  There are now Repair Cafes around Europe and North America where they show you how to fix broken items or do it for you if you can't.


Either way, Dr. Matlack reiterates the basis of green chemistry, which is the fact that the best way to reduce waste is by not creating it.


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by Kathryn Sheridan, CEO, Sustainability Consult



SC_logo_Email_01.jpgIn recent years, the bio-based chemical industry has experienced steady growth and interest in the ‘bioeconomy’, an economy based on the consumption and production of materials from renewable sources. Companies and consumers alike are looking for solutions that are more environmentally-conscious and contribute to a sustainable future.


The chemical industry is offering ever more sophisticated and sustainable solutions with a lower carbon footprint. As sustainability communicators, we believe that for the bio-based industry to deliver on its considerable promise, it must communicate with customers and stakeholders in a clear and credible way.


We work across the bioeconomy, including on bio-based chemicals and bioplastics. To contribute to the debate on credible communications, we have developed five principles for organizations to guide their communications.


Five Principles for Credible Communications

  1. Current consumption patterns are unsustainable, but this doesn't need to be the case. The chemical industry can be a linchpin for sustainable consumption by bringing competitive bio-based solutions to the market and encouraging reduced consumption, e.g. by building in recyclability.
  2. We need to be honest about what ‘bio’ really means. ‘Bio-based’ doesn't automatically mean a material is sustainable, nor more environmentally-friendly. To avoid backlash, claims need to be communicated responsibly. Taking a lifecycle approach is best, because this clearly communicates how much land, water and energy is used within a product’s lifetime and allows comparison with petroleum-based alternatives.
  3. Data is crucial to help back up sustainability claims. Lifecycle analysis (LCA) measures the energy used through the production, use and end-of-life phases. Measuring carbon reduction in bio-based chemicals will be important as technology continues to improve.
  4. Quantify sources of waste as early as possible. The next generation of bio-based chemicals may be made from waste and biomass, but sources of waste are increasingly in demand. A cost-effective and low-carbon solution requires a continuous, local supply of waste.
  5. Be transparent when it comes to GMOs. The bioeconomy is inherently focused on decarbonizing the economy, yet the catalysts used for fermentation are created for optimum performance in a lab and more often than not are genetically-modified. This isn't always obvious to stakeholders, so being transparent and straightforward is the best approach to avoid potential backlash from policymakers and consumers.


The chemical industry has a major role to play in moving society towards a more sustainable economy. The bioeconomy is part of that goal as it supports the environmental objectives sought by policymakers, consumers and NGOs alike.  Maintaining stakeholder support is essential if we are to gain consumer acceptance of new technologies. Credible communications mark the first step to ensure the right messages are being distributed.


Sustainability Consult is a Brussels-based sustainability communications and public relations consultancy, specialized in the bioeconomy, clean tech and renewable sectors. Kathryn Sheridan is a 1% for the Planet Ambassador.







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The past six weeks have been eventful. In early September there was the ACS National Meeting in Indianapolis and that was an enjoyable week.  Indianapolis turned out to be a great venue with lots of good programming and some very memorable events. I especially enjoyed the Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecture by Dr. Marin Burke entitled “Making molecular prosthetics with a small molecule synthesizer,” and the address by Alan Alda. The Kavli lecture resonated with me because of the approach that the Burke team took to synthesis and the potential that approach has for opening up greater molecular diversity for chemists to exploit.  The talk wasn't about green chemistry, but it wouldn't be a big stretch to make it one.



While Alan Alda is a great entertainer, and I did have the pleasure of meeting him personally, I am especially grateful for his commitment to helping scientists communicate more effectively. I was grateful for a day of training by staff from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. I think most scientists and engineers struggle to communicate effectively to people outside their discipline and the general public remains largely uninformed about all the amazing work that is being done. This is true for sustainability and green chemistry and engineering too, and it is something that I hope we can improve on over the next few years.



Right after being in Indianapolis, I had the privilege of participating in a Sustainable Innovation Workshop at McGill University. Professor Steve Maguire has implemented a great workshop that pairs MBA students with chemistry graduate students to create a business plan for new product. The students are introduced to sustainable and green chemistry and some general business plan information on one day, and the next day they have a limited time to develop a strategy before pitching their plan before a panel of judges. This was an amazing event to see students rise to the occasion, develop some very creative ideas in a very short time, and walk away with a very different perspective about what is possible. I think this particular model should be replicated across many institutions.


Sustainable Innovation Workshop participants at McGill University


At another symposium, the 6th Global Supply Chain Management Conference convened jointly by the University of Toledo and Michigan State University, I had the privilege of hearing two speakers from NSF International and one from Amway. With the NSF International presenters Nancy Linde and Kianda Franklin, a great case was made for how different hazard assessment frameworks could be used to drive innovations in the supply chains of consumer products, and why consumers want certification systems like the US EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) or Cleaner Production Action’s GreenScreen. In the case of Amway, it was how one company has applied general sustainability and green chemistry across a range of products and their operations.  An interesting insight from Eric VanDellen of Amway was that as formulators come to rely more heavily on chemicals lists like the one in the US EPA’s DfE Safer Chemicals List which has a limited number of chemicals to choose from, the harder it is for companies to differentiate their products. This is potentially a great driver and opportunity for innovating through the application of the principles of green chemistry and engineering to deliver new chemicals that are higher performing and less environmentally impactful so that a company can better distinguish its products.


Last, but in no ways least, I had the pleasure of participating in a Pharmaceutical Roundtable meeting and a mini-symposium on catalysis. Suffice it to say that the work of the companies in the Roundtable is quite impressive. I was especially excited to see the progress of the reagent guides and the combined process mass intensity and life cycle (PMI-LCA) tool.  Both of these are in their final stages of development and will hopefully be piloted in the near future. A benchmarking exercise with the PMI-LCA tool scheduled for completion early next year carries on the benchmarking work of the Roundtable that has been done every two years since 2008. Adding the LCA information to this already significant exercise should yield some quite interesting information.  The reagent guides are, in my opinion, an equally significant contribution to green chemistry but you will have to stay tuned as these are not quite ready for prime time.


And what can I say about the catalysis symposium?  I was impressed by the elegance of what was presented in almost all cases and equally impressed, in the case of some of the talks, by how little attention there seems to be to the other principles of green chemistry and engineering beyond catalysis. I will just say we have some work to do in academia to embed sustainable and green chemistry and engineering principles and behaviors into most research programs. I look forward to the day when I can stop saying there is so much work to do in academic labs to make them, and the work that is done in them, more sustainable.


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




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ACS GCI kicked off October in New Brunswick, NJ with the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. As you may know, the Institute convenes the Pharmaceutical, Formulators', and Chemical Manufacturer's Roundtables to promote the implementation of green chemistry and engineering in their respective industries.  The groups meet several times a year to check in and keep moving forward with ongoing projects, ranging from grant programs to green chemistry and engineering tools. October 2nd and 3rd were action-packed days spent at the 2013 Fall Pharmaceutical Roundtable Meeting, hosted by member company Bristol-Myers Squibb. This meeting was particularly special since it was followed by the Pharmaceutical Roundtable’s first stand-alone symposium! With the goal of bringing together leading scientists focusing on catalysis research to speak to students and industry, the symposium was co-organized by Rutgers University’s Catalysis Research Center and the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable, and sponsored by Digital Specialty Chemicals, HEL Inc., Johnson Matthey, Pfizer, and TCI America.


Faces from industry and academia packed a lecture hall of the Rutgers Life Sciences building to hear the six featured scientists. Overall, the day was filled with discussions of how to achieve more selective, precious metal-free, or even metal-free catalytic conditions. Dave Leahy from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Professor Lawrence Williams from Rutgers opened the morning with a hearty welcome and introduced the first talk by Professor Scott Miller, the Irénée du Pont Professor and Chair of Chemistry at Yale University, who focused on the use of peptides as catalysts for asymmetric bond formations. Professor Gary Molander, the Hirschmann-Makineni Professor of Chemistry at University of Pennsylvania, walked us through alternative routes to boronic acids and their derivatives. “Infringing on Mother Nature’s intellectual property” was the theme of the talk from Dr. Greg Hughes, the Executive Director of Enabling Technologies in the Process Chemistry division at Merck which has been expanding its use of enzyme catalysis. 2013 Pharma RT Symposium 061.jpg

From left: David Leahy (Bristol-Myers Squibb; ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable co-chair), Greg Hughes (Merck), Paul Chirik

(Princeton University), Gary Molander (University of Pennsylvania), Michael Krische (UT-Austin), Scott Miller (Yale University), Dalibor

Sames (Columbia University), Juan Colberg (Pfizer; ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable co-chair), Lawrence Williams (Rutgers University)


With his research team in the audience Professor Paul Chirik, the Edward S. Sanford Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University, dove into his base-metal catalysis work. Chirik and his team have embraced iron and cobalt's distinctreactivity compared to precious metals in order to create new catalysts for asymmetric hydrogenation and other reactions.  Professor Dalibor Sames in the Department of Chemistry at Columbia Universitypresented on C-H bond functionalization leading to greater access of drug metabolites. Wrapping up the afternoon, Professor Michael Krische, the Robert A. Welch Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, spoke about hiswork on C-C bond formation via byproduct free hydrogenation conditions.


And it wouldn’t be a proper chemistry event without a student poster competition! The poster session showcased 27 posters from both academia and industry. Judges from the Roundtable and organizing committee had the task of selecting one student who best presented their research to win an iPod nano and a free student registration to the 2014 Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.

2013 Pharma RT Symposium 051.jpg

From left: Roundtable co-chair Dave Leahy with the poster session winner Jennifer Obligacion,

and the honorable mentions Chang Min and Max Friedfeld.


Congratulations to Jennifer Obligacion, a second year graduate student from Princeton University, who won the symposium’s student poster competition for her work on base metal-catalyzed hydroboration of alkenes. The honorable mentions were Chang Min from Rutgers University and Max Friedfeld from Princeton University, and they also took home free student conference registrations.


Green chemistry and engineering thought leadership and implementation requires all hands on deck from industry, academia, etc., and the Roundtables have a pivotal role to play. Symposiums like this are one way to accelerate the conversation. Attendees deemed this event a success, and as one speaker said, “the Roundtable is like the Jedi Knights of pharma,” so it’s safe to say that this symposium was productive for all audiences involved. The Pharmaceutical Roundtable as well as the Formulators' and Chemical Manufacturer’s Roundtables work year round on critical green chemistry issues, so keep an eye out for forthcoming Roundtable events and tools!




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The American Chemical Society (ACS) Fellows Program was created by the ACS Board of Directors in December 2008 to recognize members of ACS for outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession, and the Society.  This year, 96 remarkable candidates were selected to become ACS Fellows. Two of those candidates included: Dr. David T. Allen, University of Texas at Austin, and Dr. Terrence Collins, Carnegie Mellon University who deserve green spotlight recognition by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI).


Dr.  Allen is the Melvin H. Gertz Regents Chair at the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering and serves on National Research Council and Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board activities, where he provides insight and support on environmental policy. He is also a member of the ACS GCI Governing Board and author of six books. At the University of Texas at Austin, he has taught Design for Environment and Sustaining a Planet courses and focused his research in the area of environmental sustainability. He was recognized by the ACS Fellows Program for his significant contributions to atmospheric chemistry, air quality management, and environmental education. For more information on Dr. Allen’s research, publications, and honors click here.


Dr. Terrence Collins is known as a “champion” in the green chemistry sector.  He is the Teresa Heinz Professor in Green Chemistry, and the Director of The Institute of Green Science. He served on the ACS's Committee on Environmental Improvement for 12 years and was a principal intellectual contributor to ACS policies on biomonitoring and endocrine disruption. He is internationally recognized for his diligent work around creating a new class of oxidation catalysts that are projected to benefit the environment, significantly. For more information on Dr. Collin’s lectures on green science, awards, and patents click here.





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"Like a Comet

Blazing ‘cross the evening sky

Gone to soon

Like a rainbow

Fading in the twinkling of an eye

Gone too Soon…"



David Wylie was a native of New Zealand and joined the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) in 2011 as the Program Manager.  For over ten years prior, he worked within the academia and industry sectors as an analytical and environmental chemist in South Carolina.  He taught Chemistry, Physical Science, Environmental Science, and Physics at Georgetown High School in Georgetown, South Carolina and worked in research and development at Milliken Chemical.  While at Milliken, he managed the company’s polymer additives laboratory and was honorably inducted into the Milliken Innovators Hall of Fame.  During his tenure at ACS GCI, he continued to use this passion for education and innovation to make difference.


As the ACS GCI Program Manager, Dr. Wylie worked diligently to advance educational tools and opportunities for students interested in green chemistry and engineering; spearheaded green chemistry workshops for professionals and educators, and was an integral part of the Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference series.  He also had the opportunity to present at the 2012 Gordon Research Conference on Green Chemistry in Lucca, Italy and the 2012 International Conference on Chemical Education in Rome, Italy before suddenly passing in late September 2012.  Though his untimely death was and still is difficult to accept, we continue to celebrate his life and the positive impact he left on the ACS GCI team.


Dr. Wylie was the epitome of a team player and an incredible colleague and friend to many.  His passion, enthusiasm, and excitement for chemistry and teamwork exuded from him daily.  He made chemistry exciting and was largely known for rallying students in a cheer of “Go Green Chemistry!” at ACS National Meetings.   He was a tremendous asset to the ACS GCI team, and the bond we shared was unparalleled.  He was by far, “Father of the Millennium” to his two loving children; Zealand and Sophie whom he loved more than anything.


Dr. Wylie was more than a colleague.  He was our friend, our brother, and his legacy will live in our hearts forever.




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Photo (L-R):  Robert M. Simpson, President & Chief Executive Officer, CenterState CEO; Dr. Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., President, SUNY-ESF; NYS Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; and Dan Montoney, Chief Technology Officer, Rapid Cure Technologies, tour the SUNY-ESF Institute for Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing’s UV/EB Center. 



By Dr. Charles M. Spuches, Associate Provost for Outreach SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry


The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), along with RadTech International North America, and other collaborators has launched a new program in radiation or energy curing, the Radiation Curing Program (RCP). Supported in part by a U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant, the program is comprised of three online courses and an Advanced Certificate.


RCP prepares upper-level undergraduate and graduate students (along with practicing professionals) in the science and technology of energy curing such as ultraviolet (UV) or electron beam (EB) processing.


UV and EB curing refers to a special way in which coatings, inks, adhesives, composites and other materials may be cured as an alternative to traditional energy-intensive methods that create harmful emissions. In short, these processes entail ultraviolet energy from a UV lamp and the focused electrons in EB to instantly cure/crosslink specially formulated chemistries, using less energy and at lower cost than conventional/incumbent methods.


Energy cured applications are part of your everyday experiences ranging from your morning cereal box, to your CD or DVD, magazine, credit card, cell phone, contact lenses, keyboard, driving your car, or just walking on your floor.  The advantages of UV & EB are well-documented--particularly when used with manufactured products that require fast processing and/or on substrates that are sensitive to heat. In addition, UV & EB are considered environmentally responsible since most or all of the solvents in traditional processes may be eliminated, thanks to the special capabilities of UV & EB curing.


The RCP program was developed by a team of academic and experienced energy-curing practitioners to reflect current and emerging industry-relevant content and applications. Students matriculated at other campuses may use these courses as professionally-oriented upper-level electives focused on a specialized interdisciplinary application of chemistry, physics and engineering. Students from other campuses may register on a visiting (non-matriculated) basis during the academic year or Summer Session. Participants may:

  • Pursue one or more “500” level courses on a non-credit or credit basis.
  • Apply and earn an Advanced Certificate in Radiation Curing by meeting application requirements and successfully completing all three courses for credit (participants may register and work on one or more courses at a time)


Spring 2014 Schedule

  • Introduction to Polymer Coatings /February 3, 2014 - April 18, 2014 / Online
  • Radiation Curing of Polymer Technologies / February 17, 2014 - May 2, 2014 / Online
  • Radiation Curing Equipment, Instrumentation and Safety / February 17 , 2014 - April 18, 2014 / Online


Complete information is available at or contact Dr. Charles M. Spuches, Associate Provost for Outreach SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

226 Gateway Center l One Forestry Drive l Syracuse, NY 13210

315.470.6810 (direct)  l  315.470.6817 (main) (email)  l (web)




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igcw-2013-logo.pngIndia's chemical industry has grown into a land of opportunities with its ever increasing manufacturing capacities. With prosperity comes problems that need immediate attention. India, like the rest of the world, has a huge responsibility to tackle pollution and waste. The Indian Chemical Industry Five Year Plan 2012-2017 calls for support of R&D and green technologies that use bio-based raw materials to reduce dependence on crude oil. It indicates the need to finance those who meet environment norms. It recognizes that legislation can cover the entire life cycle of chemicals. It encourages the industry to promote a green image by focusing on green products and processes (bio-feedstock, bio-degradable products, eco-friendly processes) and innovative approaches to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. Along the lines of this vision, the chemical and allied industries in India have expressed tremendous interest in the following areas in recent years:


  • Reduction of carbon emissions (carbon footprint)
  • Water conservation (water footprint) and reducing effluent discharge
  • Chemical hazard prevention
  • Recycling / Wealth from waste
  • Renewable energy
  • Renewable raw materials/alternative feedstocks
  • Nanotechnology


To serve the above shifting needs of the Industry, the Green ChemisTree Foundation, along with various other committed organizations, facilitates the Industrial Green Chemistry World (IGCW), Asia’s largest platform created for bringing together various stakeholders of Chemical Industry to accelerate the implementation and industrialization of GC&E practices. It will mostly focus on the fields of Pharmaceuticals, Agro-chemicals, Dyes & Pigments, Specialty and Fine Performance Chemicals.


To bring this to effect, IGCW hosts n on topics that can be viewed as the most-impact areas. The seminars are designed to create a metaphorical 180º shift for participants, from their existing know-how to an implementable green paradigm for industrial GC&E practices. These Seminars will be held concurrently during the IGCW-2013 Convention along with the other 9 dimensions to address participants’ specific green chemistry & engineering requirements.


IGCW 2013 180º Seminars: Seminars will be conducted by domain experts, who will give focused presentations designed to bring forth technical insights and commercially viable methodologies.


Day I (6th Dec. 2013): Seminar on Green Processes & Matrices

"You can't manage what you don't measure," is an old adage that aptly describes the need for Green Chemistry matrices. People all over the world contribute into making these, some specific to industries, without which the efficiency of the green processes developed cannot be measured. The Green Processes & Measurements Seminar will look at such matrices in detail.


Day II (7th Dec. 2013): Seminar on Green Catalysts

One of the notorious chemicals in history has been aluminum chloride (AlCl3). It is a highly corrosive reagent that has now been replaced by many innovative green catalysts - one of them being lanthanide triflates. Such exemplary developments in this field will be touched upon in Seminar on Green Catalysts in successful case-studies.


Day II (7th Dec 2013): Green Solvents

Solvents contribute to carbon footprint in a big way. Researchers now focus more on solvent free reactions. Not using solvents in processes also provides economical savings in terms of separation that is further required downstream. While solvent-less reactions should be our goal, not all reactions proceed in such conditions and hence there is a need for greener solvents such as water. This seminar will delineate such developments in green solvents research and discuss finding more potential applications.


Day III (8th Dec): Seminar on Green Engineering

This seminar on Green Engineering will deliberate on various emerging aspects of green engineering, leading to significant reduction of chemical manufacturing’s environmental footprint. Case-studies will be shared on how Green Engineering technologies, with its focuses on the design of materials, processes, systems, and devices, can minimize the overall environmental impact and efficient utilization of energy.


For more details, please contact Ms. Krishna Padia:



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Even after treatment, hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") wastewater still contained contaminants that could harm aquatic life and human health, a study has found.
Credit: iStock/Thinkstock

A new study has found that liquid wastes from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” that was treated and released into local streams in Pennsylvania still contained elevated levels of salts and other contaminants, which could be dangerous to aquatic life and human health. The study also reports high levels of radioactive materials in stream sediments at the disposal site. Published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, it states that the scientists recommend use of advanced treatment technologies to further remove the potentially harmful material.

Avner Vengosh, Nathaniel R. Warner and colleagues explain that although fracking technology has fueled a boom in U.S. oil and gas production, disposal of its wastewater remains a major challenge. It is 2 to 5 times as salty as seawater and contains substances that could harm the environment and humans. One of the options some oil and gas companies have is to send the waste to a site where it is treated and then released into local streams where it is diluted. The Duke team investigated how such a disposal practice would affect the environment.

The scientists tested the discharge and stream water samples both upstream and downstream from a wastewater disposal site in western Pennsylvania. They found that the treatment removed some of the potentially harmful contaminants from wastewater — more than 90 percent of barium and radium, for instance. However, chloride and bromide levels were still high. In addition, they found that radium levels in stream sediments where the wastewater was discharged were still about "200 times greater than upstream and background sediments and above radioactive waste disposal threshold regulations, posing potential environmental risks of radium bioaccumulation in localized areas of shale gas wastewater disposal," the researchers state.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Park Foundation and the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment.

Read the abstract, "Impacts of Shale Gas Wastewater Disposal on Water Quality in Western Pennsylvania"


From the ACS Office of Public Affairs



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CSC_00006.jpgWhen I first began synthesizing green, biodegradable surfactants for my PhD at the University of Arizona, I would never have guessed that it would evolve into patented technology or that I would be standing at the door of my first venture, GlycoSurf. While I am still not yet through that door, I have been fortunate in getting further than most companies do in their attempt to commercialize technology that was conceived and optimized in a university. The following rules and lessons I have learned since becoming an entrepreneur may not apply to everyone’s venture. Afterall, no two journies are the same and no startup follows the same rules as the next. However, if you are trying to start a venture from a university laboratory, many of the university rules are the same. Because I am still a young entrepreneur, my experiences revolve around the initial steps of forming a company; therefore, I will focus and expand on some of the challenges I have faced so far.


RULE #1:  Love what you do


Being a fairly normal organic chemist, I gave up everything to my research project – including mental sanity, sleep, eating, and a social life, in order to see the project succeed and progress. If you are in the same boat, this no doubt leaves you with the uncontrollable urge to discuss your research with every friend, relative, and stranger that comes within earshot. I used to be a “normal” organic chemist, professing my undying love for my project, exaggerating every detail of the synthesis and workup just to see the awe in my listener’s eyes; explaining the use of solvents and chemicals as if you would drop dead in their very presence (I have absolutely no idea why this is “cool”, but it is to most organic chemists and to the people that listen to their stories). Then one day, my status as “normal” organic chemist changed forever.


I once had someone tell me, “Just because it is a name reaction, does not make it right.” As many organic chemists know, there are some dangers – and costs – associated with doing organic synthesis. I do not think I am alone in finding it a bit hypocritical to synthesize “green” compounds with very “ungreen” processes. Once I took a step back to compare my methods with my end product, it truly bothered me that, in order to make a biodegradable and non-toxic surfactant, I had to use hazardous reagents and solvents. For instance, my original practices – traditional practices that are routinely taught to students like me – accumulated enough solvent and reagent waste to fill a three-gallon bucket in less than a week. I found this very disconcerting, not so much for my own personal safety (my parents are the only ones who care about that), but for the preservation of the environment. So, I did away with using those reagents and solvents. As I sought to make my synthesis “greener”, I not only lowered the hazards, steps, and cost of the reactions, but also found that I had a patentable and potentially feasible technology for commercialization. The main consequence of this discovery was that there were no more exciting and dangerous stories to keep my family and friends interested for very long. So, for proprietary reasons, all I can tell people who ask me what I do is: “I make non-toxic, biodegradable surfactants, by environmentally-friendly processes, for use in personal care, medical, agricultural, and bioremediation applications”.


While that single sentence is sure to bore my Thanksgiving guests into a pre-turkey coma, I, personally, find my research exciting and inspiring. Knowing full well that the journey taken to form a startup is long and difficult, my business partners and I, founders of this business, had to be sure we loved what we did. We must continue loving it, even as we drag it kicking and screaming through the red tape of
university and state legality. For us as founders, it was a no-brainer. We honestly feel obligated to take our technology to the market in order to better our community – be it locally or worldwide – and the environment.


RULE #2: If you really believe in it, MAKE it happen



I will never forget the time I met an entrepreneur who struggled with challenges similar to those I am currently facing. He shook my hand and asked me, “So you want to start a chemical company?” Naturally I answered “yes”. He replied, “You must be insane.” If he had not been as successful as he is in his current company, I would have believed him. However, I have come to understand his point fully. Without the appropriate amount of insanity, there would be no motivation to pursue something as daunting as starting a chemical company and no passion to ride it out to the end (even if it never picks up speed or leaves the ground).


One of the hardest things to deal with is the possibility that your invention not only lacks the breeze to lift your company off the ground, but does not have the wings to get it going. I think it is universally accepted that it is better to know this sooner rather than later (this probably applies to life in general). The quickest way to determine feasibility is to research the market and answer questions like: What are customers buying now? What are they paying for it? Why should they buy from you? It is best to know whether your technology is feasible or not before you spend too much money only to see it fail in three months.


Regardless of the answers you get to these questions, the key is acceptance -- acceptance that your technology is or is not commercially feasible. I cannot imagine anything worse for an up-and-coming entrepreneur than the denial she/he has regarding her/his own technology. If you truly believe that the technology works and can be successful in the marketplace, then never falter and never doubt that. If it is never going to leave the hangar, let it go. There is no harm in accepting the truth. Either way, there comes a certain sense of reality; if successful, you have a lot of work to do, or if not, there is some grieving and healing to be done. But, if you know it is going to work, grab hold of it and take it to the sky.


To be continued...



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