This year's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards were given today during a ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building in the District of Columbia. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency holds these awards annually to recognize companies, small businesses, and academics who have developed novel green chemistries that benefit the environment, reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, and deliver economic benefits. Dr. Kent Voorhees, Chair of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, and Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator of the the U.S. EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention delivered remarks.
Shannon Stahl, Professor of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Aerobic Oxidation Methods for Pharmaceutical Synthesis”
Professor Stahl developed a general approach to aerobic oxidation of primary and secondary alcohols using a novel, inexpensive copper catalyst and oxygen from air. The new process is selective, tolerates diverse functional groups, achieves high yields, and can be performed safely on a large scale. These reactions of particular importance to the pharmaceutical industry reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and are likely to save time and money compared to traditional oxidation methods.
Small Business Category: Amyris, Inc., Emeryville, California
“Farnesane: a Breakthrough Renewable Hydrocarbon for Use as Diesel and Jet Fuel”
The team at Amyris created a drop-in replacement biofuel called Farnesane for diesel and commercial aircraft engines. This sugar fermentation product outperforms first generation biofuels such as ethanol and traditional biodiesel, contains no sulfur, and has been approved for use in jet fuel. The innovation addresses the sustainability of our transportation sector, which is currently a significant source of CO2 emissions worldwide. A recent analysis shows Farnesane produces 82% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel.
Greener Reaction Conditions:
Solazyme, Inc., South San Francisco, California
“Tailored Oils Produced from Microalgal Fermentation”
Solazyme developed a process to generate tailored oils from microalgae using a combination of fermentation techniques and genetic engineering. The algae can produce a range of oils covering a wide variety of properties to meet individual customer’s needs. These oils are being tested and sold commercially for an array of different applications including food, fuel, home and personal care, and industrial products. Superior performance, lower volatile organic compound emissions, and reduced carbon footprint are just a few of the advantages of Solazyme’s process.
Designing Greener Chemicals:
QD Vision, Inc., Lexington, Massachusetts
“Greener Quantum Dot Synthesis for Energy Efficient Display and Lighting Products”
QD Vision produces quantum dots, essentially nanoscale LEDs that produce high-quality color, saturation, and system efficiency for flat screen displays and solid-state lighting. These quantum dots improve the efficiency of LED devises and solve the traditional problem of low-quality LED light. In addition to producing a superior LED, QD Vision significantly improved their manufacturing process to reduce hazardous reagent use and worker exposure, solvent waste and the amount of energy consumed both in processing and product use.
Greener Synthetic Pathways:
The Solberg Company, Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Solberg Company developed a firefighting foam blend of surfactants and sugars that in the intended application outperforms with less environmental impact compared to fluorinated firefighting foam concentrates. This blend, called RE-HEALING Foams, eliminates the need for long-chain fluorinated surfactants that are known to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic, and short-chain fluorinated surfactants that are less toxic yet still environmentally persistent chemicals. The Solberg Company’s foam has been certified and meets all the required firefighting performance criteria.
Learn more about each of the winner's on C&EN's full coverage.
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