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How is science making a difference on critical environmental, economic, and social issues? How do you bring your science from the bench to the big picture?


Today’s most pressing problems require all hands on deck, therefore it is crucial for scientists to connect their work across disciplines and to the general public. If you want to know to bridge science to global issues like climate change, conflict minerals, sustainable business, and more, this is the event for you.


Join the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute on Monday, June 16, from 6:30-8:30 PM for "From Bench to Big Picture." This will be a uniquely cross-disciplinary discussion on how science is currently addressing some of these big issues and how YOU can begin drawing these connections. We will be joined by scientists who are actively pursuing world-changing chemistry, communicators who will elucidate what skills are necessary to do this, professionals who help scientists connect their work to the hill, and students who are fostering communities across disciplines. At this event, a new organization (Network of Early-career Sustainable Scientists & Engineers (NESSE)) dedicated to creating a network of interdisciplinary and sustainable scientists will be launching.


There will be brief introductions from the speakers, followed by a town-hall style and small-group discussions that will allow all audience members to talk about the science and issues they are most passionate about! 


Speakers include:

  • Paul Chirik, Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University
  • Darcy Gentleman, Manager of Public Policy Communications at American Chemical Society
  • Laura Hoch, Graduate student at University of Toronto & Founding member of NESSE
  • Caroline Trupp Gil, Director of Federal Affairs at American Chemical Society


Tickets are limited so click here to register for this FREE event today!

Food and refreshments will provided.

This event is part of the 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. To learn more and register for more events, please visit the conference website:

Last year the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable sent a call for proposals, seeking to fund projects that are developing alternatives for widely employed transition metal catalyzed cross-coupling reactions (the assembly of carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom). These reactions are used frequently in the pharmaceutical industry because they allow for the assembly of compounds with significant molecular complexity (like those found in medicines). They currently depend heavily on palladium and other 2nd/3rd row transition metals that have drawbacks such as high cost, fluctuating global supply, human toxicity concerns, and limited natural abundance.


Rather than perpetuate these typical protocols the Roundtable envisions a more desirable future state for cross-coupling that not only employs non-precious/non-toxic metal catalysts, but also reduces the number of steps, achieves ambient temperature conditions, utilizes environmentally responsible solvents systems, and more. Pursuing these goals will shrink the environmental impact of medicine production, address safety conditions for workers, and reduce costs for the industry (no longer relying on rapidly depleting precious metals).


Many proposals were submitted for this call for non-precious metal catalysis, but after difficult decisions two stood out among all others.

  • Dr. Paul J. Chirik received $100K for his proposal “Modern Alchemy: New Paradigms for Enabling Base Metal-Catalyzed Cross Coupling in the Pharmaceutical Industry.” Over a 2 year period, his group will at first explore the application of redox active ligands that can undergo traditional cross-coupling transformations (carbon-carbon) with a 1st row transition metal catalyst. Eventually, the team will address more long-standing challenges such as iron-catalyzed carbon-nitrogen bond formation and more.
  • Dr. Daniel J. Weix of the University of Rochester received $50K for his proposal “Direct Synthesis of Alkylated Arenes and Heteroarenes from the Cross-Coupling of Heteroaromatic Halides in Non-Amide Solvents.” For the next year, Weix and his team will develop new nickel catalysts and conditions for the formation of new carbon-carbon bonds via cross-coupling. The team hopes to achieve these reactions with simple ligands and metal salts, provide broad function-group compatibility, and employ greener solvents.


Congratulations to the grant winners! Keep an eye out for updates over the coming years to see how this important research progresses. And to learn more about precious metal use in chemistry and alternative technologies, be sure to catch the Green Chemistry & Engineering Hybrid Session on June 19th, where Dr. Chirik and other experts will be presenting. Attend in person or watch the live broadcast.


Register now for this FREE webinar: Endangered Elements: Critical Materials in the Supply Chain » ACS Webinars ®





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Request for Proposal: The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable is seeking to fund a 1-2 year R&D program to address the Roundtable’s initiatives in iron catalysis.  Proposals should target the development of innovative and novel iron-catalyzed coupling reactions or catalytic iron based alternatives for current coupling technologies that enjoy widespread use. Proposals are invited from public and private institutions of higher education worldwide. This collaborative project is intended for a student within the selected Principal Investigator’s research group. One grant in the amount of $100,000 will be awarded to support execution of research for a period of 1-2 years.


Deadline for receipt of proposals is August 22, 2014 at 5 PM EDT (GMT-4).

Click here for more information and to download the RFP.


Proposals not received by the deadline will not be considered. Submissions must be a single pdf file submitted via email to Ugcipr@acs.orgU. The Principal Investigator with the selected proposal will be notified in November 2014 of the decision.  It is expected that research will commence in the principal investigator’s lab by February 2015 and last approximately 1-2 years.



For additional grant opportunities, please visit our Research Grants & Awards page.



“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.


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Across the world, more and more chemical companies are beginning to transform their processes and products to be more efficient, less toxic, and less dependent on depleting, non-renewable resources. This move to greener chemistry is often a triple win as these sustainable actions track with financial improvements, reduce environmental impact, and remove or lessen safety concerns associated with traditional technologies. To meet this need and to get out in front of this rapidly growing trend, companies are creating programs completely dedicated to green chemistry. These programs not only promote greener practices and technologies, they create usable resources for others in their company to learn more about this newer approach to chemistry, raise awareness and visibility, and collect metrics and recommend targets for research and development. While the structure of these groups vary across firms, one thing is clear: these groups are critical for departments across a firm to begin cohesively and successfully developing greener technologies and adopting more sustainable practices.


In order to inform and further accelerate this movement, on April 25th the International Consortium for Innovation & Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ Consortium) hosted an online webinar titled “Seven Important Elements for an Effective Green Chemistry Program.” The presentation was based off of a 2013 Organic Process Research & Development article with the same title. The three presenters (David Leahy of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Ingrid Mergelsberg of Merck, and John Tucker of Amgen) participate in the consortium in addition to being American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute® Pharmaceutical Roundtable (ACS GCIPR) member representatives.


“Transforming pharmaceutical science by advancing standards and ‘best practices’ is at the core of IQ’s mission; the rapid evolution of Green Chemistry in pharmaceutical manufacture exemplifies transformative change arising from collaboration amongst pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders,” said Lew Kinter, Chair of the IQ Consortium.



This paper and webinar resulted from a survey of IQ Consortium members on what is needed to have an effective green chemistry program. Twelve pharmaceutical companies provided feedback, and six companies contributed to the paper and webinar. The group then distilled the elements from the results that were the most impactful into the easy-to-read 7 steps below:


1. Empowered green chemistry teams with management support

2. Metrics and targets

3. Resources and tools

4. Education

5. Awareness and recognition

6. Investment in green technology

7. External collaboration


In the webinar Leahy, a process chemist at BMS and co-chair of the ACS GCIPR , discussed some of the initial needs for building a program from the ground-up. Since green chemistry requires chemists and engineers to reimagine science that has been done for decades, these teams can catalyze that necessary culture change. These multidisciplinary, grassroots initiatives need highly motivated champions and the full-time support of the management; they will vary from group to group (by site, structure, function), it is just important for participants to feel empowered. It was emphasized that in order to measure progress a team needs simple, easily defined, and measurable metrics—this allows the team to identify baseline performance and set targets for future improvements.


Mergelsberg, the director of process chemistry at Merck, dove into the importance of providing certain resources and tools that offer guidance to accomplish the goal of greener process design. Many metric calculators and guides are already a component of most chemists’ work flow, so they are a great way to incorporate green chemistry awareness into every day work. The ACSGCIPR solvent guide and process mass intensity calculators were mentioned as examples; each provide essential information and assessment structure for improving reaction  and material efficiency, reducing toxicity, etc. On top of improving access and awareness for these items, it is crucial for teams to ramp up internal education efforts. Whether its symposia, newsletters, or trainings for employees, educational opportunities will ensure the desired culture change.


Rounding out the session, Tucker, a process chemist at Amgen, touched upon specific approaches for improving awareness such as internal lectures, centralized tools on sharepoint, or external publication. He then elaborated on the need for recognition of the impassioned green scientists, as it will reinforce positive and productive growth for the program. Public and private acknowledgement from management, as well as participation in internal and external award programs (for example, the U.S. EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards) can boost the energy of participants. Finally, remembering that investing in enabling technologies and to collaborate with outside groups (ACS GCI Roundtables, IQ Consortium, Innovative Medicines Initiative: Chem 21, National Science Foundation, etc.) will provide teams the opportunities to have a larger impact on their firms’ activities.


To learn more, check out the 7 steps article here or contact



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Do you want to make a difference in the world? Do you want to make an impact on issues like climate change, reliance on fossil fuels, continuing contamination of air, land and water, unsafe chemicals in consumer products, and conflict minerals use?


All of these pressing global issues are impacted by chemistry, and green chemistry holds the key for addressing these critical environmental, health, cost, and security concerns.


Everyone has a stake in this decision, and YOU can make a difference NOW! By voting for the next wave of innovation that will provide REAL solutions to these REAL problems through your support of the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute’s® 2014 Green Chemistry & Engineering Business Plan Competition, greener products will be one step closer to the market place. It is the only competition of its kind exclusively dedicated to green chemistry and engineering and provides the chance for sustainability-oriented entrepreneurs to move their greener innovations closer to a commercial reality.


This is your chance to help accelerate solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges like:

• Dependence on endangered elements in chemical processes

• Displacing petrochemicals by transforming renewable or waste feedstocks into valuable chemicals

• Reducing hazardous chemical inputs in products and processes

• Minimizing energy use and emissions


Click here to cast your vote for the "Change the World with Green Chemistry" campaign!


You can help choose the winner if you sign up by June 13, 2014. You will be contacted after you select your level with the voting ballot. All proceeds go to the Grand Prize Winner of the competition.


Meet the 5 semi-finalist teams--follow the links to hear their first round pitches!


  • Cell-Free Bioinnovations: high energy density sugar-powered biobatteries for portable, biodegradable, and refillable gadgets
  • Circa Group: decreasing dependence on oil & gas by bringing a new waste cellulose-based solvent to market
  • HydroCoat w/ Horizon Partners Ventures LLC: novel renewable-resourced, biodegradable hard seed coating and soil additives
  • SioTeX: transforming an industry by replacing fumed silica with a low-cost and ecofriendly solution
  • U.S. Bioplastics: cost competitive biobased plastic packaging from sugarcane waste


Wristband Hands.JPG

The final round of the competition will take place on June 18 at the ACS GCI Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Visit the conference website to learn more and register for this exciting event!



“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.

In fall 2012, Professor Neil Garg from University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) received a $50K grant from the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (ACS GCIPR) Medicinal Chemistry team for his project, “Development of Green Nickel-Catalyzed Cross-Coupling Reactions.” This work was in response to the Roundtable’s call for research on alternatives to precious metals in catalyzed reactions; cross-coupling reactions are critical in industry, as they are one of the most used for assembling carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bonds. Not only did Garg and his team achieve these conditions by replacing typically employed palladium catalysts with lower cost, more abundant nickel-based catalysts, they were able to do so in greener solvents (such as 2-Methyltetrahydrofuran (2-Me-THF), which can be derived from renewable feedstocks).


Fast forward one year later: the team has achieved their goal, having developed a process and delivered an Organic Letters publication, “Nickel-Catalyzed Suzuki-Miyaura Couplings in Green Solvents.” But because a constant objective is to expose students to green chemistry early in the game, the ACS GCIPR and Prof. Garg wanted to take his research a step further. The Roundtable decided to grant an additional $10K in order to have these research developments translated into an undergraduate teaching lab. The extension was an important opportunity for a graduate student to take the lead, so Garg worked with Dr. Jonah Chang (UCLA Lecturer) and Liana Hie (graduate student in the Garg group) to adapt the chemistry for an undergraduate class entitled, “CHEM 144: Practical and Theoretical Introduction to Organic Chemistry.”


After the initial one-year research grant, there were many substrates presented as options and the team had many variations on the process. In order to convert this into a teaching experiment, there was much work to do in terms of optimizing the timing and selecting the most favorable substrates, solvents and catalysts.“We wanted to cover a lot of ground with this lab—we wanted to have the students learn about green chemistry, cross-coupling, heterocycles, metal selection.” Garg explains, “We wanted to teach these things because they are important for pharmaceuticals and are not usually addressed in undergraduate classes, so it’s something new and applicable.”



A student displays his product from the cross-coupling lab with graduate student, Liana Hie.

The team had to work fast in order for the lab to be included in the undergraduate classes this spring; as a result it wasn’t included in the syllabus and was optional for all students in CHEM 144. With green chemistry becoming more prevalent and necessary in academia and industry, and being of great interest to the next generation of chemists, it’s no surprise that the lab was a huge success. There were glowing student reviews of the lab (in the class survey one student relayed "I was surprised to learn [about] the many possible ways to perform green chemistry. This experiment made me think about the option to seek out jobs related to green chemistry.”). Every student participated in this optional exercise, and 29 out of 30 were able to successfully obtain the desired product. “A lot of the standard chemistry curriculum is old… Students were excited to work on something new and that reflected important problems,” Garg explains.


The next goal is to publish the lab experiment and make it more widely available for other universities to employ. Garg emphasizes the importance of building community and taking the initiative as an educator to spread the word about greener lab options. “We’re in the business of education, and we need to align research and education efforts,” says Garg. He hopes to see more efforts like this in the future, both from his lab and others. The ACS GCIPR grants are an effective approach to ensure that academic research and industrial practice coordinate, and as this grant extension exemplifies a key tactic for bringing green chemistry into the classroom.


Commenting on the collaboration the ACS GCIPR states, “While the initial goal of funding this research was to provide a widely applicable method for the catalysis of cross-coupling reactions, which could be applied to industrially relevant substrates, the extension to develop the methodology into a teaching class experiment at UCLA represents a win/win situation on multiple levels for the ACS GCIPR. The experiment developed enables the next generation of scientists to gain experience with a key reaction transformation of significant industrial relevance under environmentally-benign conditions.  In addition, we are excited by the results generated while working with Professor Garg, and are grateful for his commitment and engagement throughout the period of research. We also believe that this collaboration will serve as a blueprint in terms of success for future partnerships between academia and the ACS GCIPR”.



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What will the next twenty years of green chemistry and engineering innovations hold? This is the question that Dr. Eric Beckman seeks to illuminate in his upcoming keynote address at the 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Beckman is a professor of engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, an accomplished researcher, entrepreneur, and a proponent of an integrated approach to sustainability education.


EricBeckmanlarge.jpgBeckman has always seemed to bridge worlds. He got his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at MIT before entering the chemical industry for three years, then returned to graduate school where he received a PhD in polymer science at the University of Massachusetts. In 1989, Beckman joined the chemical engineering department at the University of Pittsburgh continuing a research interest in CO2 as a solvent.


Carbon dioxide is a nontoxic, inexpensive, mild solvent that continues to excite many researchers with its potential. Uses for CO2 had already been developed in the 70s for application in the food industry, particularly for the decaffeination process. However, Beckman explains that "by the late 80s, people had exhausted what they could try to do with it because all of the most interesting things you might want to dissolve in CO2 just wouldn't go." So what he and a few other researchers first set out to do was find out how to design substances to dissolve into CO2. Once this was accomplished it opened up doors for uses that hadn’t been possible before. Throughout the 90s, Beckman explored new processes in CO2, ultimately leading to being awarded an EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2002 for the Design of Non-Fluorous, Highly CO2-Soluable Materials.


As the decade progressed, Beckman's thinking around what is “green” began to evolve as a number of influences and interests converged. He expanded his focus on green processes by beginning to explore how to design greener products—and in doing so, developed the first course on product design for chemical engineering students at Pitt. He also began reading work on materials flow analysis, considering questions such as where exactly did chemicals go in the environment. As a chemical engineer, Beckman says he immediately understood the concept of pollution prevention: "You've paid money for materials, you've paid money to process the materials, and now you are going to pay money to throw part of them away? That doesn't make any sense economically."  Adding to this understanding, Beckman credits Paul Anastas and John Warner’s ideas and the work of Jane Bare on lifecycle assessment (LCA) for broadening his ideas about sustainability in science. To cap off the decade, he cofounded the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at Pitt in 1999, for which is now the codirector.


In 2007, Beckman took a three year sabbatical from Pitt to start up a company, Cohera Medical, to commercialize research into new medical adhesives. Essentially, these biocomopatable medical adhesives hold tissues together as the natural healing process occurs and is then are resorbed by the body after degrading into harmless subcomponents. Their first product, TissueGlu®, has recently been approved in Europe and is slated to be approved in the U.S. this year.


What does green chemistry mean to you? Says Beckman, “Systems and customers.”


Now back at Pitt, Beckman is busy responding to a new thrust from the University's leadership to expand and integrate sustainability research  and education throughout the school. With the Mascaro Center playing a leading role, Beckman is helping to define the direction of new coursework, research certificates, and a new master's degree that will integrate sustainability into fields like public health, business, law, and political science, along with chemistry and chemical engineering. For chemical engineering students, part of what this will look like is a more integrated entrepreneurial focus, where students take business essentials as a sophomore, product design (including green design) as a junior and senior's with great product ideas will have the option of taking a prototyping class. The goal is to start to bridge some of the silos between departments, and between the business and academic world that trouble the chemical enterprise. Beckman emphasized that as a result of these silos we've created, "If you were going to sit down in academia to create a green product, you'd need a team of nine from nine different departments." The same holds true in industry.


For small business, the silos are even more problematic. "There are huge differences between small business and academia," Beckman points out, making it hard for small companies to work with academia. Small companies can access capital, but have to move very fast to prevent burning through it; academics have plenty of time, but never enough money. Small companies need team players; academia rewards the standout individual. "Academia does not train PhDs to do what small companies need them to do," concludes Beckman. At the university, students are trained to be great scientists, but "small companies need a PhD to manage projects, people, and budgets against the constraint of time."


It’s an appropriate time to reflect as green chemistry reaches twenty. We have come a long way –as Beckman rightly points out, twenty years ago you couldn't even put the words "green" and "chemistry" together. Yet, we are in many ways still near the beginning of a growing movement to rethink how  chemistry & engineering are carried out, in order to be truly sustainable.


Join Dr. Eric Beckman and others at the 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in the Washington DC area June 17-19, 2014. In addition a keynote address, Dr. Beckman will be presenting "Beyond the PhD: Start-ups as early employee or founder".



“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 Dr. Karolina Mellor, Program Manager, Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering at Yale


For many years chemists have designed chemicals and materials to have defined functions.  Most scientists feel comfortable with the challenge of designing a material to have a particular color, or flexibility, conductivity, durability, and so on.  Although advancements have been made to enable enhancements in many different chemical functions, it is still a struggle to design chemicals that are less toxic to humans and have minimal environmental impact.


MoDRN.jpgMolecular Design Research Network (MoDRN) is a recent initiative that will help scientists expand their molecular design “toolbox” by helping anticipate the potential toxicity of commercial chemicals.  MoDRN is developing as a collaboration between four universities - Baylor University, George Washington University, University of Washington and Yale University,  -  with the goals of advancing our understanding of chemical hazards and enabling rational design of safer chemicals in the future.


The primary aim of the collaboration is to develop computer software that will assess physicochemical properties that are linked to different toxic endpoints. Using these relationships, scientists will be able to more easily screen for potential hazards to humans or the environment.  The software approach will allow more rapid screening of chemicals with structural modifications, promoting a new generation of molecules that are less hazardous while preserving their efficiency.  Ideally, this pre-screening approach would significantly reduce the financial and ethical costs associated with in vivo and in vitro screening.


The MoDRN also recognizes the need to bridge disciplines in order to advance the science.  The project will engage scientists, educators, and policy makers to promote tools for sustainable molecular design that can meet industry needs and be adopted by future generations of chemical practitioners.  With this mission in mind, the MoDRN approach aims to facilitate the design, discovery and development of new chemical alternatives to secure a better tomorrow.


To find out more about MoDRN, visit their website, or come met their team at the 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 17-19 (, where they will be part of the Green Expo.



“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.

By David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


This month in The Nexus, we are highlighting the topic of critical materials and endangered elements. I would suggest that this is something often overlooked by most people, including chemists and engineers, because few of us have a good sense of where things ultimately come from and what it takes to get them to us, in whatever form we may use them. That is to say, we don’t think about how gold is mined from a vein of mineral rich rock, extracted from a mountain of that rock, and further refined and/or reacted and/or coated/adsorbed/absorbed onto a substrate to be used in a chemical process, usually as a catalyst.


Yes, metals like gold are chemically interesting as elements and nanoparticles, but they come to us at a huge environmental, social and economic cost that is not represented by the price we pay. At the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, we are working to bring subjects like this to the attention of chemists and chemical engineers across the chemical enterprise, whether they are in academia, government or in business.


As the Director of the ACS GCI, I find that one of the most exciting parts of my work is encountering the wealth of green chemistry and engineering information, expertise and opportunity people are bringing forward in a variety of places and professions.


su835342_team_001.jpgAt the end of April, I was privileged to once again be a judge for the EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability (‘3P’ for short) competition at the Washington DC Convention center. A total of 35 University and College student teams presented reports of their Phase I work, and plans for Phase II. The EPA was only able to award 7 teams with Phase II grants, but the talent and ingenuity all the students demonstrated remains an inspiration. As these students ably showed, solutions that may solve some of the world’s sustainability problems don’t always entail large costs but a new and different way of looking at old problems. The P3 Competition was held at the same time as the USA Science & Engineering Festival and it was absolutely overwhelming to take in all the STEM-related organizations and activities that were offered. It was great to see all the young kids getting hooked on science and engineering. Even better to see how their parents were encouraging them by bringing them.


pine_resin.jpgJust a few weeks ago I was invited to speak at the Pine Chemicals Association’s (PCA) annual meeting in Florida. The PCA represents a comparatively small part of the chemical sector, but one which is based on chemicals derived from trees. Part of the supply comes from waste created during paper manufacture, and part of it comes directly from resins tapped from living trees. The industry represents a model for waste to chemicals and chemicals from trees that the world needs to replicate and expand. Exploiting the chemical diversity in natural products and waste is a great opportunity that most of us just don’t think about.


Since the early days of green chemistry and engineering, waste elimination and pollution prevention has been closely allied with the idea of toxics elimination or reduction. Early in my career, I began working for a large chemical company, and I remember the introduction of the Toxics Reduction Inventory (TRI). Talk about a rush by industry to reduce its emissions so that any given plant was not at the top of the list! So, it was interesting to be invited to speak in early May, at the Toxics Release Inventory Conference convened by the EPA and Dillard University’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.


Toxic chemical reduction remains a major objective for the EPA and despite enormous advances by industry and government (the DOD and the defense industry are major TRI emitters) there is still a lot to be done. While green chemistry and engineering can and do address toxics elimination and/or reduction, the fact of the matter is that the chemical enterprise is built on toxic chemicals. Just visit any research laboratory in academia and you will have a sense of how entrenched and oblivious research professors at R1 universities are to toxic chemicals. The more toxic, explosive, and exquisitely hazardous the chemicals are, the greater the assertion to funding agencies and journals that “good science” is being carried out. And what is done at university is hard to undo when a student goes on to establish a career in academia, government or industry.


I also had the privilege of speaking at the BMS Green Chemistry Symposium last week. Bristol-Myers Squibb is a member of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable, and I have long admired BMS as a company that is working to operationalize sustainability and green chemistry throughout their organization. Like the other pharmaceutical companies, there are always challenges in implementation, especially in early parts of product development. This is why it is so important to embed sustainable and green chemistry as a way of thinking about every problem or opportunity, not something we do that is extra or bolted on after we achieve a technical solution. I am always very grateful for all the work many are doing to implement green chemistry and engineering, despite the many challenges they face.


As always, let me know what you think.



"2013 winning team from the University of Massachusetts - Lowell" Photo credit: US EPA

"Pine resin is a raw material for chemical production" Photo credit: Wikipedia



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The American Chemical Society will recognize Thomas Edison’s botanical research laboratory as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on Sunday, May 25, 2014, at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Fla. As early as the 1920s, Edison put green chemistry principles in the national spotlight in his search for a source of rubber that could be produced in the U.S.


Following World War I, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone became concerned about America’s dependence on foreign sources of rubber for its industrial enterprises. As a result, the three men formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation in Fort Myers in 1927 to investigate a source of rubber that could be domestically produced. The following year, Edison built the botanical laboratory where more than 17,000 plant samples from the United States and the world were analyzed for their latex content. One group of plants—Solidago, commonly known as goldenrod—was selected as the most promising. Edison’s team crossbred species to increase their rubber content and tested industrial production.



Edison’s team employed sustainable practices in their search decades before the principles of green chemistry were formally established. They focused on renewable feedstocks that could be grown in the U.S. such as dandelion, guayule, and goldenrod. In their extraction process, Edison’s team recycled the solvents benzene and acetone used in their two-step, two solvent extraction method. This methodology is still used today by researchers in the field of rubber chemistry (although benzene has now been replaced with less hazardous solvents).


Additional celebrations of Edison’s work in chemistry will be held at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, N.J., on June 6, 2014, in partnership with the North Jersey Section of ACS, and at The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village, in Dearborn Mich., on September 20, 2014, in partnership with the ACS Detroit Local Section. Information about all three dedications can be found at the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program website,


The American Chemical Society established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize important achievements in the history of the chemical sciences. Subjects recognized through this program have included Bakelite, the world’s first synthetic plastic; the discovery and development of penicillin; and the work of historical figures such as Joseph Priestley, George Washington Carver and Rachel Carson. More information is available online at


Photo: Portrait of Thomas Edison in his chemistry laboratory in 1906.
Courtesy the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Thomas Edison National Historical Park.



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Every year, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® Green Chemistry & Engineering (GC&E) Conference hosts a special online and in-person session on a hot issue in green chemistry. This "hybrid" session isn't your typical technical session—this free event is open to audiences from all backgrounds, and will dig into the environmental, economic, and social impacts and considerations regarding the chosen issue.


This year's topic is "Endangered Elements: Critical Materials in the Supply Chain." There is a growing list of rapidly depleting elements that are considered strategic metals; they are rare, expensive, and heavily relied upon. Whether it's the platinum component of catalytic converters found in most vehicles or tantalum capacitors in almost all cell phones and laptops or palladium in countless chemical reactions for the manufacture of medicines, we depend on many platinum group and rare earth metals. The use of these materials is unsustainable, as are many of the practices employed to extract and refine them. As these materials approach impending extinction from the supply chain and generate high socioeconomic costs across the world, it is critical to identify low-cost and abundant alternatives. Until now, there have been few alternatives that could recreate the performance of these metals in fundamental applications.


From L to R: Chirik of Princeton, Eggert of Mines, and Matharu of Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence

The hybrid session will not only elucidate the true impact of our chemical demands, but showcase how innovators are creating new technologies that can be resilient and conflict-free.  Experts Dr. Roderick Eggert (Professor of Economics and Business at Colorado School of Mines), Dr. Paul Chirik (Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University), and Dr. Avtar Matharu (Deputy Director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and Scientific Leader for Renewable Materials Technology Platform) will use this world-wide forum to discuss this subject in detail. Issues covered will include the economic and environmental impacts from critical element exploration, extraction, and dependency; fragility of supply and geopolitical concerns; the current state of our dependency (how we depend on metals in ways we may not anticipate); what are some new, innovative green chemistry solutions; and the possibilities for recovery and recycling metals that are already in circulation.


Join us on Thursday, June 19 from 2:00-3:00 PM at the GC&E Conference for this unique event that ACS GCI is co-producing with ACS Webinars.

If you cannot be there in person, please join us online at:



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Don’t miss this final opportunity to submit an abstract  for oral and poster sessions at the PanAm RCN’s Conference on Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability, co-organized by AIChE, IfS and SBE, on July 22-25, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. Present your work alongside invited speakers from a diverse network of biofuel sustainability researchers and professionals in industry, government, and NGOs. Submissions are being accepted until May 23, 2014 for all sessions:


  • Socioeconomic Issues
  • Ecosystem Impacts
  • Water-Energy Nexus
  • Bioenergy and Social Justice
  • Biodiversity
  • Sustainability Issues in Bioenergy Industries
  • Energy Policy
  • NGO-Government Perspectives
  • Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Brazilian Biofuel Sustainability Issues
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Industry-Government Perspectives
  • Biomass Supply Chain
  • Industry-Academic Perspectives
  • Poster Session
  • Technological Innovation


Registration is now open. Take advantage of the special Early Bird rate when you register before Friday, May 23, 2014.


Please contact if you have any questions.



“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.


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Contributed by Jim Hutchison, Co-chair, Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon


This year’s Green Chemistry and Engineering (GC&E) Conference offers an exciting series of multi-day technical tracks all focused on Advancing Chemistry, Innovating for Sustainability.  This year we created tracks of new content for the conference and have refreshed traditional topics.  I’m writing to share an overview of the conference and some of the sessions that I’m personally most excited about.


Keynote presentations will kick off each day.  I’m really looking forward to hear from three inspirational leaders who will address green chemistry innovation:

  • Dr. Seth Coe-Sullivan, Founder and CTO of QD Vision, will describe how green chemistry played an essential role is bringing quantum dot products to the market.
  • Professor Richard Blackburn, Head of the Sustainable Materials Research Group at the University of Leeds, will discuss how green chemistry design is being applied to the textiles and dying industry.
  • Professor Eric Beckman, co-Director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh, will focus on molecular design, innovation and green chemistry.


There is a lot of great programming each of the three days of the conference.  The conference gets off to a great start Tuesday with five parallel tracks with compelling technical sessions including:

  • New chemical feedstocks – chemicals from biology, CO2 and natural gas
  • Design for chemical safety – strategies and tools for design and evaluation
  • Green chemistry education –educating beyond the BS and PhD
  • Greener processes – from hydraulic fracturing to biopharmaceuticals
  • Organic chemistry – approaches to highly reactive chemistries


Hutch’s pick(s):  There is a lot to choose from Tuesday, but I’ll be splitting time between the sessions on Design for Chemical Safety, Green Chemistry Education and New Chemical Feedstocks. The Design track has great speakers from academia, government and NGOs.  In green chemistry education, I’m excited to see how programs are tackling education beyond the formal degree training.  Finally, I’m excited to hear about recent advances in carbon dioxide chemistry.


A welcome reception wraps up the day on Tuesday.  I hope to see you all there.


Wednesday is action-packed.  In addition to five parallel technical tracks, a poster session with more than 70 posters will be held just after lunch.  There is also a Business Plan Competition that runs throughout the day and a career workshop and several mixers in the evening.  The technical sessions include:

  • Consumer products – Innovative and sustainable solutions in apparel and footwear
  • Waste to wealth – chemicals from waste food, trash and electronics
  • Design for chemical safety – workshop on tools for design and evaluation
  • Green chemistry education – charting the road ahead and success stories from the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry & Sustainable Energy
  • Organic chemistry – commercializing research advances in pharmaceuticals


Hutch’s pick(s):  Again, a lot to choose between, but I’ll be splitting time between the Design for Chemical Safety Workshop led by Jakub Kostal and the session on Innovation in the Footwear and Apparel.  There are a number of new tools for safer design that I’d like to learn about.  On the other hand, John Frazier has put together a great track about greening the footwear and apparel industry.


We’ll wrap things up Thursday with another set of parallel sessions, including a webcast session on Critical Materials in the afternoon.  The technical sessions include:


  • Organic chemistry – catalysis, kinetics and mechanisms
  • Critical materials – Earth abundant alternatives and the lifecycle of scarce materials
  • Consumer products –greening the supply chain
  • Policy and innovation – trends in innovation, regulatory landscape and implications for innovation


Hutch’s pick(s):  Can I be at two places at once?  I’m really interested to see the session on Policy and Innovation that Marty Spitzer and his team put together, but also am chairing an interesting session on Critical Materials.  Cyrus Wadia from the Office of Science and Technology Policy will kick off the Critical Materials session Thursday morning.


We have really tried to take the GC&E conference to the next level this year.  Please check out the technical program and plan to join us in June for a great conference.



“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.

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