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The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) at Michigan State University invites applications from undergraduate students interested in a career in bioenergy to participate in their Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program during the summer of 2015.

 

GLBRC.pngThe program provides students with the opportunity to become engaged in an active research program in a scientific laboratory on the MSU campus. Faculty, postdoctoral associates, graduate students and/or research technicians will act as mentors for participants. Students will contribute to the project by working in the laboratory alongside their mentors, participating in group meetings and activities, and attending seminars. At the end of the program, students will present short research project summaries of their work to their project team.

 

Opportunities on the MSU campus in East Lansing exist in multiple departments, including chemical engineering, biochemistry, plant biology, agricultural economics, microbiology, entomology, and crop sciences. For those interested in ecological and environmental research opportunities related to bioenergy, please see the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) REU site at http://www.kbs.msu.edu/index.php/education/ugrad/reu

 

MSU will fund four to five undergraduate students to work on GLBRC projects on campus this summer through the GLBRC Education and Outreach program.

 

Criteria for selection:

Absolute requirements

  • Undergraduates currently enrolled in a four-year program
  • Not an incoming freshman or graduating senior

Strong preference will be given to:

  • Non-MSU students
  • Members of an under-represented group in science
  • First in their family to attend college
  • Students at small colleges without broad research facilities
  • Demonstrated interest in a career in bioenergy research


Stipends will be $5,000 per student for 10 weeks. There are also funds available for housing assistance if needed. Completed application forms and the other necessary materials are due to Jonathan Markey before February 21, 2015.


Application for the REU Summer Program

 

REU Program Dates: June 8 – August 14.

Some flexibility is possible depending on the school schedules of the students and availability of the mentors.


Full time: 40 hours per week for 10 weeks. Students should not plan on taking any classes during the summer, nor work for another department.

 

Total Stipend: $5,000 paid in one installment. In some circumstances, there may be the possibility of additional housing assistance as deemed necessary.

 

Eligibility: Students who are enrolled in an accredited college or university and not an incoming freshman or graduating senior. Strong preference will be given to groups under-represented in science and students at colleges without strong research programs.

 

Application deadline: February 21, 2015

 

For more information contact: Jonathan Markey, REU Coordinator, or Linda Steinman, GLBRC Administrative Associate.

 

For more information about the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center visit: www.glbrc.org.

A directory of MSU GLBRC scientists is available at : www.glbrc.msu.edu.

 

 

 

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

Recently we asked Dr. C.N. Sivaramakrishnan, a distinguished senior scientist from the Society of Dyes & Colorists in India to respond to some questions to give us a sense of the sustainability challenges and opportunities in the dyeing industry in India. Below is Part 1 of this special report. Part 2 will be published in February.

 

Q: How large is the textile and dyeing industry in India, and what percentage of the world industry does that represent? What percentage is for the domestic market vs. international market?

 

A: The Indian textile industry is the second most important economic activity in the country, in terms of employment generation (after agriculture). It is also one of the major sources of export earnings for the country. Abundant availability of raw materials such as cotton, wool, silk and jute, as well as a skilled workforce, have made the country a sourcing hub. It is the world's second largest producer of textiles and garments. The Indian textiles industry accounts for about 24 percent of the world's spindle capacity and eight percent of global rotor capacity. The sector contributes about 14 percent to industrial production, approximately, four percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), and 27 percent to the country's foreign exchange inflows. It provides direct employment to over 45 million people.

 

The Textiles Vision Document, formulated by the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC), has projected that textiles exports from India will touch $300 billion (U.S. dollars) by the year 2024-25. India’s textile exports to the United States and Europe have risen to 26 and 18 percent respectively. The potential size of the Indian textiles and apparel industry is expected to reach $223 billion by 2021. India has overtaken Italy, Germany and Bangladesh to emerge as the world's second largest textile exporter, as per recent data released by 'UN Comtrade.  India's share in Global Textiles increased by 17.5 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. The industry has made a major contribution to the national economy in terms of direct and indirect employment generation and net foreign exchange earnings. Thus, the growth and all round development of this industry has a direct bearing on the improvement of India's economy. Major business restructuring is taking place across the industry. The government is also considering measures to support the industry on which livelihood of millions of people is dependent. The Indian textiles industry is set for strong growth, buoyed by strong domestic consumption as well as export demand. Textile processing machinery production in India is not fully geared up with the latest technology; therefore dyeing houses still rely on imported machinery for their requirements.

 

India’s textile export share

India Graph.png

 

Size of the industry and global presence

 

The Indian textile industry today has approximately 1,200 medium to large scale textile mills. Twenty percent of these mills are located in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu). The domestic knitting industry is characterized by small scale units with facilities for dyeing, processing and finishing. The industry is concentrated in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, Ludhiana, Punjab, and Panipat, Haryana). Tirupur produces 60 percent of the country's total knitwear exports. Knitted garments account for almost 32 percent of all exported garments. Most of the international brands like Marks & Spencer, JC Penny, H&M and Gap have started procuring most of their processed fabrics from India. Wal-Mart, who had procured processed fabrics worth $200 million over the last few years, intends to procure $3 billion in the years to follow. Major retail brands like Wal-Mart, H&M, Marks & Spencer, C&A and Puma have set up offices in India reposing their faith in Indian textiles.

 

Investments

 

The textiles sector has witnessed a spurt in investment during the last five years. The industry (including dyed and printed) attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) worth US $ 1,495.07 million during April 2000 to September 2014.

 

 

Q: What are the main environmental concerns and any related statistics (water use, heavy metals, dyes in effluent, etc.)?

 

A: Chemicals and their legislations with focus on Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) are the subject matter of discussion in any forum. The textile processing industry is facing tremendous pressure from local pollution control boards and NGOs. The past 50 years of synthetic material development has brought significant performance improvements in fabric. These improvements, however, are now beginning to be haunted by growing concerns about the health and environmental impacts of those materials, and the finishes and treatments added to them. Only a small fraction of the over 80,000 chemicals registered for use globally have undergone even the most basic human health screening. Many of the petrochemical-based products currently in use today share a common legacy of emitting toxic chemicals.

Bird Sanctuary.png

 

Most of the information on textiles focus on the environmental impacts related to the production and processing of textiles and possible health impacts related to the use of the products themselves. In many cases, these two impact areas overlap as they derive from the use of certain chemicals and other substances which may have both environmental and health impacts. A great variety of material types are used in today’s textile processing, some naturally grown, and some synthetically produced.  Both the production/cultivation and then the processing of such materials are highly varied and consequently have a variety of different potential impacts.

 

Environmental issues during the operational phase of textile processing include the following:

  1. Emissions to air, water and soil
  2. Wastewater treatment
  3. Resource & energy efficiency – energy consumption
  4. Handling hazardous materials
  5. Solid and liquid waste management

 

  • The thrust is to use safe dyes, pigments and auxiliaries that are organic and easily biodegradable. Certain azo dyes have found to be carcinogenic and their use either restricted or banned in some cases.
  • For naturally grown fibers such as cotton, the use of pesticides and fertilizers (organic or non-organic production) is of particular importance from an environmental perspective.
  • Heavy metals are a subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties. They include transition metals, some metalloids, lanthanides & actinides. In general, any metallic chemical element that has a relatively high density (> 5g/cc) and is highly toxic or poisonous may cause health problems such as kidney failure, emphysema, allergies and even cancer. One of the most recent restrictions is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act 2008 (CPSIA) from the US, where all children’s products, including textiles have been brought under a restriction in lead content.

 

Heavy metals of concern include Copper, Nickel, Cobalt, Chromium 6+, Chromium total, Mercury, Zinc, Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, Antimony, Barium, Selenium and Tin.


Bird Sanctuary2.png

Environmental issues associated with textile effluents include the following:

  1. Residual dyestuffs – toxicity, color, bio degradability
  2. Halogenated organic compounds (AOX)
  3. Heavy metals contamination (Cr, Cu, Zn)
  4. Surfactants and synergistic relationship with toxicants
  5. Salts in effluent which is to be re used for land application
  6. Auxiliary agents for dyeing – toxicity and biodegradability
  7. Finishes – toxicity and biodegradability
  8. Heavy levels of total oxidized sulphur (TOS)
  9. High Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)

 

Q: What solutions are being implemented? Are there any solutions that are looking not just at cleaning up waste streams and recycling water but at innovations in the processes to minimize water use or replace the need for problematic chemicals?

 

A: The buzz word in the textile processing industry is SUSTAINABILITY. The main environmental concern in textile processing is the amount of discharged water and the chemical load it carries. There is awareness amongst processing fraternity to go for Best Available Technologies (BAT). Introduction of BAT has led to following advantages:

 

  • Standard Operating Parameters fixed by assessing recipes to monitor quality and quantity of chemicals
  • Good quality water is used; Water is re used, recycled
  • Low-liquor dyeing machines and Right First Time (RFT) dyeing techniques
  • Strictly following non usage of chemicals from the restricted substances list (RSL) and substituting with eco-friendly and bodegradable products.

 

Most of these measures allow significant savings not only in water consumption, but also in energy savings because less energy is used to heat up the process baths. Other techniques are specifically focused on optimizing the use of energy, e.g. heat insulation of pipes, values, tanks, and machines; segregation of hot and cold waste water streams; and recovery of heat from the hot stream.

 

 

Q: How do REACH and other international regulations and supply chain pressures impact the industry in India? Is the pressure to become more sustainable coming more from the outside or from concerns internal to India such as the environmental impact on India’s waterways?

 

A: REACH, which stands for Regulation, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals, places responsibility on all manufacturers and importers of chemicals to identify and manage the risks that those substances which they manufacture and market may pose to human health and to the environment. REACH requires the safe use of products over the entire life-cycle to be examined, which means that an intensive exchange of information with suppliers and customers is needed to meet these requirements.

 

The key part of REACH that affects the textile industry looks at substances in articles, whether those substances are intended to be released, whether they are substances of very high concern (SVHC), or whether they are restricted.

 

This will affect all industries with chemicals in its supply chain and will replace a lot of existing chemical regulations.

 

Chemical manufacturers have pre-registered all chemical substances with the ECHA or have ensured that their business partners have fulfilled their obligations. They only use raw materials in conformity with REACH (pre-registration by manufacturer/importer).

 

With the pre-registration activities, most of the reputed manufactures have made every effort to avoid unnecessary disruption in the supply and marketing of products.

 

With the entry into force of REACH the requirements concerning the structure of the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) has changed. The MSDS of all new products, as well as updates of existing products, will reflect this change, however all MSDS for existing products reflecting current legislation, were still valid until the end of 2010. It is mandatory that suppliers of dyes, chemicals and auxiliaries fully comply with the REACH requirements.

 

Registration of substances will generally result in a revised MSDS of the derived downstream product. Only when the downstream user receives this new MSDS including the registration number, will the obligations associated with the exposure scenario come into force.

 

In the case that a certain use is not covered by the exposure scenarios, the downstream user has 12 months to make this use known to the supplier (or six months for writing their own Chemical Safety Report). During this time, it is legal to continue the use. Exposure scenarios need not be developed for products, which do not contain hazardous substances (ref. Annex I, 0.6) or for substances that are produced with less than 10 tons per year (ref. Art. 10.1). In these cases, use information is not required.

 

The REACH Regulation stipulates that after the end of the registration period downstream users may use substances subject to registration only if these substances are registered by the manufacturer/importer.

 

Moreover, substances must be "permitted" for specific uses of downstream users by mentioning these uses in the safety data sheet. For substances in volumes of 10 tons or more per year, the registrant previously needs to perform a chemical safety assessment. Pursuant to Article 37 of the REACH Regulation, downstream users have the right to make a use known to their supplier, DUCC Template is used (DUCC = Downstream Users of Chemicals Coordination Group). This template lists descriptors as well as some major exposure-relevant parameters. The DUCC Format provides a first overview of relevant uses in industry. A subdivision was made between "standard uses" (21 in number) and so‑called "uses to be communicated separately". It is recommended to communicate the latter together with the respective products.

 

GOTS: Global Organic Textile Standards is a widely accepted certificate for Indian textiles to enter the European soil.

 

 

Q: How might India’s new CSR spending law (2% net profits) benefit the sustainable approaches in the industry (if at all)?

 

A: Contrary to popular belief, corporations and the society are interdependent. Social issues affect corporations and the corporations’ actions in turn affect the society. Corporations are addressing societal issues that would benefit both, the society as well as the corporation. Social Responsibility is well integrated with the corporation’s total functioning. Translating CSR into ‘corporate social integration’ resulting in corporations treating ‘CSR’ as an integral part of their strategy and stop treating it as an act of philanthropy. Textile mills are striving hard at all levels to conserve natural resources and energy. Indian textile companies have been recipients:

 

  • Of the Green Manufacturing Excellence
  • Processing facilities for energy and waste management, emission control and occupation safety
  • Awards from U.S. giant Wal-Mart and the World CSR Congres

 

 

 

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

Now that winter weather has swept the Northern Hemisphere, a lot of people are bundling up in waterproof jackets and other outdoor gear before heading out into the elements. Nothing beats staying dry on a cold and wet day, right? But have you ever stopped to think of the chemistry behind your rain-proof yet moisture-wicking apparel? And how green is it?

 

As it turns out, waterproofing is in the midst of a largely behind the scenes migration toward greener chemistries. Although this is just small piece of the overall sustainability profile of apparel and footwear, it is an excellent example of the complexities of going green from research and development, through global supply chains, across multiple government regulators, and ultimately into the hands of the consumer.

 

Long-Chain Perfluorinated Chemicals

 

In the early 2000s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency became concerned about the accumulating research on long-chain perfluorinated chemicals, and particularly perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical found as an impurity in preparations used to make materials water and dirt repellent like stain resistant carpets. This C8 chemistry was also used to produce fluoropolymers which have been put to use in products that make consumers’ lives easier—from non-stick pans to waterproof boots. But numerous research studies found that PFOA persists in the environment, is bioaccumulative, can be found in blood samples of wildlife and people around the world, and has been shown to cause cancer and developmental problems in laboratory animals. It should be noted that the concern was not that the user of the product such as a raincoat would be exposed directly, but rather that between the chemicals manufacture, application, product washing and disposal, it made its way into the environment and eventually back into humans.

 

Based on these concerns the EPA began a voluntary phase-out program with the eight major chemical manufacturers of PFOA with a goal to eliminate the chemical in emissions and products in the U.S. by 2015. The EPA just released 2014 progress reports, which show that all of the companies are on track to meet the 2015 deadline, and many have already completely phased-out this chemistry. According to the EPA the manufacturing of long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemicals (another way of identifying this chemical group) by companies not participating in the voluntary program will also cease by the end of 2015. This January, the EPA released a new ruling that any future new manufacturing, importation and processing of these chemicals would have to be approved through the EPA. Regulators in Europe have also expressed concern, with Norway issuing the strictest standards in the world for PFOA in consumer products, a limit of 1 microgram per square meter.

 

That being said, brands who make waterproof or water resistant products have been largely in a position over the last decade of voluntarily reworking their recipes (or more commonly, requiring their suppliers to rework recipes) to eliminate this chemistry. Doing so can be more complex than one may initially think. One camping tent, for example, may contain 80 different parts. So there is a lot of retooling needed to make changes across the board.

 

Short-Chain Perfluorinated Chemicals

 

But if long-chain perfluorinated chemcials (PFCs) have fallen out of favor, what then is being used to make our clothes waterproof? According to the EPA, there are over 150 alternatives. The closest group of alternatives are short-chain perfluorinated chemicals, a C6 chemistry. This group is generally considered to be safer as they are less persistent in the environment and less toxic, while manufacturers are finding that their waterproofing properties—with some extra preparation—are equivalent to long-chain PFCs. Bernhard Kiehl of the Fabrics Division Sustainability Team for W.L. Gore & Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex®, has been working with their suppliers to eliminate PFOA from all of their products over the last ten years. PFOA showed up as an impurity in the water repelling agent that the company purchases and applies to their products. By 2011 Gore had met this challenge for most of their consumer products and has more recently eliminated PFOA from all their products, including professional products—uniforms for fire fighters, the police, medical workers and others—which have higher performance requirements. “We believe we are one of the first companies to complete this project across the entire range of products,” says Kiehl.

 

Other outdoor brands are also busy eliminating PFOA by requiring their suppliers to provide PFOA-free material. Ensuring that this happens is a challenge in an industry with a long and broad supply chain. One way many brands have accomplished this is by working with Bluesign Technologies, a company based in Switzerland that provides a sustainable certification of products. Bluesign looks at a manufacturer’s recipes and processes, among other things, and works with companies until they meet Bluesign’s standards for environmentally friendly and safe production. By the end of 2014, Bluesign eliminated all C8 chemistry from their approved chemicals list, so all of the products certified by them must use either C6 or C4 technology, or one of over 30 non-PFC alternatives they offer.

 

The industrial advantage of long-chain PFCs is that they are a one-size-fits-all solution. Moving to C6 chemistry means that more care needs to be taken in the preparation of the fabric. Different types of fabric and different constructions have different processing requirements. The preparation of the fabric must be perfect and may need an additional washing and drying cycle. “That was a huge learning curve for many brands and many textile mills,” says Peter Waeber, CEO of Bluesign Technologies. “Today a C6 technology comes close to a C8 if all those conditions are perfect.”

 

“After looking into several options, [short-chain PFCs] was what we believed the most environmentally responsible choice,” says Bernhard Kiehl. “You have to look at the entire life cycle and what a replacement does. You have to look at wash frequency, the frequency of needing to apply an aftermarket water repellent, how the entire lifetime of the jacket is affected by loss of performance and so on.”

 

Another group looking at alternatives to long-chain perfluorinated chemicals is the Outdoor Industry Association’s Chemical Management Working Group who formed a task force with the European Outdoor Group, the German Sporting Goods Association, and the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Group to work on, among other things, the water repellency issue. The group put together a research needs scoping document outlining data gaps, challenges and opportunities of different waterproofing materials, as well as outlining use cases and performance requirements to get a sense of what is really needed and what is overkill for a particular application. The outdoor industry is clearly interested in moving away from chemicals of concern that may eventually (or have already) land on the growing list of restricted substances regulated by REACH, the EPA and California, or otherwise attacked by activist groups like Greenpeace. “One of the biggest challenges of making progress across the board is the disconnect between academia and research organizations and the on-the-ground needs of the industry,” says Beth Jensen, Director of Corporate Responsibility at the Outdoor Industry Association. Jensen hopes that efforts like their scoping document will help facilitate a critical need for industry-informed academic research. Without the visibility into what choices alternatives present, product designers are not able to make the most sustainable decisions.

 

Short-chain PFCs, as the most known substance among the alternatives, is currently a favorite, but some express concern that C6 chemistries will ultimately be a “regrettable substitution” or at least an example of over engineering for consumer products. Nicholas Nairn-Birch of the EPA’s Chemical Control Division explains, “'Short-chain alternatives are reviewed by EPA's New Chemicals program against the range of issues that have caused past concerns with PFCs, as well as any issues that may be raised by new chemistries. Current research and testing results demonstrate lower toxicity and bioaccumulation concerns for short-chain alternatives relative to their long-chain counterparts. EPA's review of alternatives is still on-going.”

 

Others point out that while C6 is needed for professional fabrics and personal safety gear, it is not needed in simpler applications for consumers. “You can only repel oil or oily stains with fluorinated chemistry, but if you are just talking about water or rain, fluorine-free finishes are very much at the level of fluorine containing finishes” says Jan Beringer, Head of Research & Development, Department of Function and Care at the Hohenstein Institute in Germany. Peter Waeber concurs that there are currently non-PFC alternatives that can endure 25-40 washing cycles, and correctly points out, “How many times do you wash a rain jacket?” Ultimately, the sense is that short-chain PFCs will be phased out for waterproofness at some point in the future, but until a breakthrough chemistry is found, will remain necessary for applications that need to repel oil and dirt.

 

Non-Fluorinated Alternatives

 

Alternatives to PFCs include paraffin, stearic acid-melamine, silicone, dendrimer and nano-material based chemistries (if you are interested, this joint outdoor/sporting goods/fashion industry report outlines the main alternatives). More research is needed to fully determine the environmental fate or health impact of these compounds (and the chemicals used to process them). These alternatives may be biodegradable, but as Jan Beringer comments “Apart from the data we already have on this, there needs to be more research done on how non-fluorine hydrophobic finishes behave in the environment.”

 

For some, non-fluorinated finishes may provide the protection and performance needed. For others, concerns about the durability and consumer perception remain. Without the oil and dirt repellency, garments may become stained, washed more frequently, or discarded sooner.

 

In field trials between jackets with non-fluorinated finishes versus fluorinated finishes, Gore found that the everyday grease and grime a jacket may be exposed to—things like food stains, skin oils, sunscreen or even the diesel in road-spray—affects the overall water repellency of a jacket. In these trials, jackets with non-fluorinated finishes lost their water repellency performance faster than those with fluorinated finishes. Gore also performed a life cycle assessment of their waterproof, windproof and breathable jackets in which they found that while production and distribution have an important impact, the longevity of the jacket is the most influential parameter, and the number of washes per year in the use phase plays a significant role. If a waterproof finish affects the longevity of a jacket, and that jacket is discarded earlier by the consumer, then no one wins.

 

Even though there appears to be good tools in the toolbox for waterproofing, it seems that both research and innovations are needed in this field. Unfortunately, the industry has seen their margins on products go down, and as textile auxiliaries have moved from out of the U.S. and Europe, there have been fewer funds available for research and development. Academic and research institutions could, and in some cases are, taking up this work both in the U.S. and Europe, but much is needed—especially considering the trend towards tailoring recipes and processes for specific applications. New R&D efforts often take six to eight years to come up with a viable new substance and then testing and approval through regulatory bodies can take another two years. So the time frame for change is neither fast nor inexpensive, but it may be inevitable. “Short-chain will be phased out. We need an alternative,” comments Peter Waeber. “As soon as we have one, it’s dead.”

 

 

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

The call for papers and registration is now open for the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Catalyzing Innovation is the central theme of the conference to be held July 14-16, 2015 in North Bethesda, Maryland—just outside of Washington, D.C.

 

“The conference informs attendees on the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products, which are feasible and economical while minimizing the generation of pollution at the source and the risk to human health and the environment,” says Dr. Richard Wool, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware and 2015 conference co-chair.

 

The conference has been organized into a series of day-long tracks listed below. Scientists, engineers, educators and students will be able to select a series tracks over the three days that suit their own interests.

 

  • Catalysis in Green Chemistry
  • Designing Safer Chemicals
  • Education
  • Enlisting Biology to Solve Chemical Problems
  • Functional Thin Films
  • Green Engineering
  • Greener Synthetic Transformations
  • Harnessing Chemistry for Green Energy
  • Pharmaceutical Green Chemistry
  • Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award Winners
  • Sustainable Consumer Products
  • Sustainable Feedstocks
  • Sustainable Materials
  • Tools, Metrics and Strategies for Green Chemistry

 

“This particular GC&E conference will be the first of its kind,” says conference co-chair Dr. Bruce Lipshutz. “In addition to the ‘usual’ breadth of topics covered, along with an outstanding selection of speakers, the addition of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award Symposia to the program—featuring both recent and former recipients—puts this meeting over the top.”

 

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) distinguishes some of the top research in the country that incorporates green chemistry principles into commercially impactful processes and products. The 2015 award ceremony and reception will take place on the afternoon of Monday, July 13, 2015 in Washington D.C. Registrants of the conference will have the chance to indicate they would like to attend this ceremony and reception as well.

 

Each of the conference three days features an opening lecture by a distinguished keynote speaker. In addition there is a keynote lunch lecture during the first day of the conference.

 

Chris Coons is a U.S. Senator from Delaware who has an undergraduate degree in chemistry and has been actively engaged in chemistry-related policy issues. In September 2015, he introduced a bi-partisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act with Senator Susan Collins of Maine. The bill would create a cohesive plan to fund research into sustainable chemistry, improve coordination between federal agencies, and boost commercialization of sustainable technologies.

 

Deborah Mielewski, Ph.D. in chemical engineering, is the Senior Technical Leader of Materials Sustainability at the Ford Motor Company. She has been with Ford Motor Company for 28 years and was responsible for initiating the biomaterials program at Ford Research in 2001 where her team advanced soy-based foam for automotive seating. Mielewski is now developing sustainable plastics that meet stringent automotive requirements, including natural fiber reinforced plastics and polymer resins made from renewable feed stocks.

 

Angela Belcher, Ph.D. in chemistry, is the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy working in the Departments of Material Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT. Belcher specializes in proteins and how they can direct the material properties of minerals. The Belcher lab focusses on nature’s own processes to design imperative materials and devices for energy, the environment, and medicine.

 

Frances Arnold, Ph.D., is the Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at Caltech. Her research pioneered ‘directed evolution’ of enzymes, a process which is used widely in industry and basic science to engineer proteins with new and useful properties. Arnold has been honored for her innovative research by multiple awards, has been elected to the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering, has more than 40 patents, and has co-founded two companies.

 

Dr. David Leahy, Principal Scientist at Bristol-Myers Squibb, is the third conference co-chair this year. The mandate of the organizing committee is to select interesting topics across a range of research areas and speakers who can deliver high-quality technical information. Along with the PGCCA awards and the annual ACS GCI Industrial Roundtable Poster Reception, there will be plenty of programing and events targeted to industry researchers and business people.

 

The Green Chemistry & Engineering Business Plan Competition will be held again this year to provide an opportunity for early-stage start-ups and entrepreneurs to test their ideas in front of a distinguished panel of judges while vying for a cash award. As the only business plan competition that directly targets green chemistry and engineering ideas, ACS GCI recognizes the potential of these innovative technologies to propel the chemical enterprise towards a sustainable future.

 

Students are encouraged to register and present their work during the poster sessions. There are several funding opportunities available, and students who are not winners of a travel award may enter the poster competition to win one of two $500 cash prizes.

 

"This conference informs people at all levels (academia, industries, government ) that sustainable development has to provide...ecological integrity and social equity to meet basic human needs through viable economic development over time," says Susan Sun, Professor at Kansas State University and conference organizing committee member. "Biobased is good but has to have no competition with food; and green is good but has to meet required performance at affordable price."

 

Wool concludes, “New insights gained from international leaders in the green chemistry and engineering fields from industry, academia and government will lead to Smarter Research, Greener Design and a Better World.”

 

For more information on the conference go to gcande.org or contact gceconfernece@acs.org.


 

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

Professor Martyn Poliakoff, a distinguished advisor to the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® Governing Board, was knighted and added to the Queen Elizabeth II's New Year Honors list, January 1, 2015. Sir Martyn Poliakoff is a beloved professor of chemistry at the University of Nottingham and a well-known YouTube sensation due to his Periodic Table of Videos playlist, which has received over 80 million views.

 

According to Charlotte Anscombe, Media Relations and Campaign manager from The University of Nottingham, this honor was given to Poliakoff due to his services to promoting green and sustainable chemistry, as well as for his role as Vice-President and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society. Poliakoff received his bachelor of arts degree in 1969 from King’s College, Cambridge and his doctorate in 1973. Starting as a researcher in 1972 at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and he moved to the University of Nottingham in 1979 and became a professor of chemistry in 1991. Poliakoff has served as an advisor on the ACS GCI Governing Board since 2010.

 

According to Brady Haran, video journalist and film-maker for the Period Table of Videos, “he has been recognized for his work with engaging the public with chemistry, including through the periodic table of videos on YouTube.” In a special video on Poliakoff’s knighthood he stated, “I think that maybe this is the first time YouTube has been mentioned when somebody has gotten a knighthood, and so I feel really quite proud about that. And I would like to thank new YouTube views who have made this possible through your enthusiasm for chemistry.”

 

Poliakoff gives many thanks to his colleagues, research team, technical crew and the university as a whole.

 

References:

 

Haran, B. (2014, December 31).  Arise, Sir Martyn: Knighthood for YouTube's Martyn Poliakoff Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/science/grrlscientist/2014/dec/31/arise-sir-martyn-kn ighthood-for-youtubes-martyn-poliakoff

 

Ansombe, C. (2014, December 30).Knighthood for Nottingham Chemistry Professor. Retrieved from http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/pressreleases/2014/december/knighthood-for-nott ingham-chemistry-professor.aspx

 

 

 

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Contributed by Tao Li, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency

 

The concept of “Process intensification (PI)” was introduced in the late 1970’s when Ramshaw and Mallison of ICI invented the rotating packed bed contactor to promote gas-liquid mass transfer. By then PI was narrowly defined as “The physical miniaturization of process equipment, while retaining throughput and performance[1]. In the same vein, different types of equipment and engineering technologies have been invented over the past four decades, to serve a more general purpose of developing clean, safe, efficient, and more robust processes. As such, PI is increasingly important in Green Synthesis as it offers more and more options to improve the sustainability of chemical processes.

 

Process development is a complex task that involves participants from different fields. As the primary stakeholders, synthetic chemists need to share an effective conceptual framework with engineers, so as to identify opportunities for PI early. The engagement of chemists and engineers starts from early development, when hazardous reactions or reagents are evaluated, and scale effects are studied. In full development, this collaboration expands to all aspects after a route is selected and the sequence of intermediates has been established. They take different roles to address the issues including safety, health and environment, quality and process control, production throughput, and economy.[2] To prioritize their efforts, it is critical to understand the limits of the technologies from both chemistry and engineering perspectives. Indeed, when classical process optimization cannot meet the expectation, the development team should look into PI for chemical engineering solutions, which involves maximizing the driving forces to overcome the limitation in conventional processes.[3]

 

To carry out a batch reaction, the reactants, solvents, and auxiliaries are mixed by a well-defined procedure until the entire starting material inventory ends up in the reactor. The evaluation of reaction scale up involves the study of many variables such as time to charge, charge method, sequence of addition, mixing time, mass transfer, and heat transfer. A set of critical process parameters (CPP, e.g., up to 10) are prescribed to control the course of reactions and energy exchange.[4] Systematic optimization of a large number of CPPs can be challenging and tedious, especially when discrete variables are involved. As the batch scale increases, energy exchange is slowed because the surface to volume ratio decreases.  Reaction selectivity will be reduced as side reactions become more significant in a prolonged operation scenario. For hazardous reactions, the batch scale is limited since a larger inventory increases process risk.

 

The issues in batch reactions can be simplified by decoupling the driving forces from scale-up factors with several functions that can be integrated in a design. One important example is microfluidic reactor. It uses configuration design and tuning of flow rate to meet the needs for mass and energy transport, thereby reducing the factors for consideration in scale up. The reactor is minimized with a high volume-to-surface ratio and a defined flow pattern to enhance mass transfer and energy transfer. In theory, this reactor also enables accurate application of additional forces (e.g. alternative energy) to the reaction mixture. Microfluidic reactors also use continuous mode of operation, thereby creating an ideal plug flow type reactor to carry out reactions at steady state under optimized conditions. When used for chemical preparation, microfluidic reactor can be used directly by numbering up (parallel use of multiple units); or scaled up with other flow reactors (meso-fluidic, tube, column, micro-channel, etc), which offer the same advantages for Green Chemistry. Such benefits can include:

 

  • Atom Economy: With better condition control and more efficient mixing, reaction selectivity is improved. As a result, reaction yield is increased and the process mass intensity (PMI) is reduced.

 

  • Less hazardous synthesis: Flow reactors have reduced reactant hold-up and rapid heat dissipation, which leads to reduced reaction risk.  Reactive reactants (e.g. hydrogen) or intermediates can be generated in situ to avoid risk associated to large inventory.

 

  • Design for energy efficiency: Smaller reactor volume (> 100 fold volume reduction from batch reactor), more accurate energy management, and increased process throughput all contribute to potential energy savings.

 

  • Catalysis: Catalyst immobilization is feasible (E.g. catalytic hydrogenation)

 

  • Real time analysis for in-process monitoring: Real time analyses, especially non-invasive analyses (e.g., IR, calorimetry), are simple and direct with flow reactor since the reaction is at steady state.

 

The microfluidic reactor is particularly suitable for reactions that are limited by mass or heat transfer in batch reactors. They also accelerate reactions by creating operation windows (i.e. conditions) unachievable in batch reactors.[5] For example, by using a pressure-resistant microstructure inline, the reaction can proceed at temperatures above the boiling point of the solvent and high pressure, thus creating conditions more forceful than that under reflux. This also allows for uniform application of alternative energy (e.g. electromagnetic radiation) to the reaction mixture.

 

In general, PI can break the limitation of conventional process by meeting the following four main objectives:[6]

 

  1. To maximize the effectiveness of intra- and intermolecular events
  2. To give each molecule the same processing experience
  3. To optimize the driving forces/maximize specific interfacial area
  4. To maximize the synergistic effects of partial processes

 

Table 1. Some PI technologies that have been used to serve synthetic chemistry

PI Table.png

 

In a survey of about 1000 patents and a search of scientific publications, The European Roadmap for Process Intensification has identified 72 of PI technologies.[7] They are organized into hardware (Equipment) and Software (Method) groups. They are further classified into subgroups based on their intended uses, and characterized by the benefit they offer and challenges to implement. For synthetic chemists, building awareness starts from understanding the basics of most popular PI technologies (Table 1).[8]

 

Typically, synthetic chemists conduct route scouting with lab glassware, which resembles batch reactors. These batch reactions offers several important advantages in early development. They are inexpensive, can be used for multiple products, flexible to handle reaction conditions, and more suitable for slow reactions which are not limited by mixing or heat transfer. In general, batch reactors can accommodate most reactions at small scale. They are also suitable for advanced process strategies such as concurrent reactions (e.g. dynamic kinetic resolutions, crystallization induced transformations, cascade reactions, etc.) or telescoping synthesis. When large scale production is needed, then scale-up limitation becomes critical, thus creating opportunities to retrofit the processes with PI technology by chemical engineers.

 

Direct translation of bench protocol to practical preparation employing PI technologies remains challenging to chemists. The most critical issue is the availability of plug-and-play, small scale PI equipment that is suitable for both process development research and practical preparation at gram-to-kilo scale. The equipment needs to be multipurpose, flexible to handle different reaction conditions, and suitable for systematic study with small quantity of reagent chemicals. This will enable chemists to better appreciate the benefit of PI technologies and identify opportunities for early application. It has been generally accepted that PI can be used to improve reaction efficiency and selectivity, break the limitation imposed by reaction equilibrium, mitigate scale-related risks, and reduce the variables in scale up optimization. For commercial manufacture, it can reduce the facility footprint and production lead time.

 

Flow chemistry is the most versatile PI technology for synthetic chemistry.[9] Currently, micro-scale flow reactors, including those for hydrogenation or ozonolysis, are available from multiple vendors.They allow chemists to simplify scale up by selectively studying the impact of mixing efficiency, temperature, stoichiometry, and other variables. The scale up is relatively straight forward as larger flow reactor (e.g. PLANTRIX®, tonnage scale) have similar operation range and flexibility. Ultimately, end-to-end synthesis can be built by integrating multiple flow reactions with work up and isolation modules.[10]

 

Disclaimer: This document has been reviewed in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy and approved for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

 

Reference

1. W. T. Cross, and C. Ramshaw, Chem. Eng. Res. Des., 1986, 64, 293-301

2. D. J. Ager, in Process Understanding, ed. I. Houson, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany, 2011, pp. 17-58

3. S. Curcio, in Sustainable Development in Chemical Engineering: Innovative Technologies, ed V. Piemonte, M. De Falco, Wiley, Chichester, UK, 2013, pp 95-116

4. A. D. Bream, J. T. Sweeny, and J. W. Tom, in Chemical Engineering in the Pharmaceutical Industry: R&D to Manufacturing, ed D. J. am Ende. Wiley, US, 2011, pp 379-405

5. V. Hessel, D. Kralisch, N. Kockmann, T. Noel, and Q. Wang, ChemSusChem, 2013, 6, 746-789

6. A. Gòrak, and A. Stankiewicz, Annu. Rev. Chem. Biomol. Eng. 2011, 2, 431-451

7. http://www.efce.info/EUROPIN.html, accessed on Jan 4, 2015

8. (a) Process Intensification for Green Chemistry, ed. K. Boodhoo, and A. Harvey, Wiley Chichester, Sussex, UK 2013;

    (b) I. A. Sutherland, J. Chromatogr. A, 2007, 1151, 6-13

9. I. R. Baxendale, R. D. Braatz, B. K. Hodnett, K. F. Jensen, M. D Johnson, P. Sharratt, J-P. Sherlock,  and A. J. Florence, J. of Pharmaceut. Sci. 2014, DOI: 10.1002/jps.24252

10. S. Mascia, P. L. Heider, H. Zhang, R. Lakerveld, B. Benyahia, P. I. Barton, R. D. Braatz, C. L. Cooney, J. M. Evans, T. F. Jamison, K. F. Jensen, A. S. Myerson AS, B. L. Trout, Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2013, 52, 12359-12363

 

 

 

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Contributed by David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®

 

With the end of the year and the beginning of the next, there is always good reason to pause for a moment to reflect on the past year and anticipate the coming year. As one looks back over the many events of 2014 it is striking to think about how impossible it would have been to predict many of the geopolitical and economic events that have captivated the world. I suspect it will be equally striking at the beginning of next year when reflecting upon this year’s events; e.g., exactly where will oil at below $50/barrel take the world?  We are certainly living in interesting times.

 

So what can we anticipate in green chemistry this year? There are the usual meetings and conferences like the Spring and Fall National ACS meetings, and Regional meetings where you will find green chemistry and engineering-related sessions. I am privileged to pick out the sessions that are related to green chemistry for the Society’s mobile meeting app and it’s pretty exciting to see the green chemistry and engineering content in many different divisions. I think it’s great that green chemistry and engineering approaches are being implemented in many areas of the global chemistry enterprise.

 

Be sure to mark your calendars for the 19th annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference the week of July 13th (14th, 15th, and 16th). I am delighted that once again the U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Ceremony will take place on the Monday evening preceding the Conference. Nothing quite like a celebration to start the Conference off in good form! The conference organizers, Dave Leahy (BMS), Richard Wool (Univ. of DE), and Bruce Lipshutz (UC, Santa Barbara) have assembled a great team of session organizers and they have put together an excellent technical program. Please do visit www.gcande.org to learn more. The abstract system is open now and will close on March 16th.

 

As was the case last year, there are several other specialty conferences and symposia to look forward to this year.  In May, there is the 3rd International Symposium on Green Chemistry in La Rochelle, France and the first week of July there is the 7th International Conference on Green and Sustainable Chemistry in Japan. Both of these should be great opportunities to interact with different green chemistry and engineering researchers across the globe.  Very exciting indeed!

 

This year is a very special year in the history of the ACS GCI Industrial Roundtables given that it is the tenth anniversary of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable. This is quite an accomplishment in the green chemistry and engineering community, and represents an extended period of business collaboration to advance the state of the art and practice of green chemistry and engineering. There are a variety of activities to mark this milestone throughout the year and I am very excited to see the work of the Pharma RT continue. We were also delighted to see the Hydraulic Fracturing Roundtable come to fruition with 8 charter members signing up before the end of the year.  We have high hopes of more companies joining these companies to make good progress in implementing green chemistry and engineering in this key industry. Each of the Roundtables has advanced green chemistry and engineering in their own sphere of interest and we look forward to another year of notable accomplishments.

 

We are also working to expand our partnerships and collaborations in green chemistry and engineering. There are now many organizations who are working to advance green chemistry and engineering across the globe, and it certainly makes sense to work collaboratively to extend our collective influence, share best practices, and leverage each other's efforts.There is certainly insufficient time and resource to take advantage of the many opportunities that are presented throughout the year, but that’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

 

I look forward to working with you through the year. As always, let me know what you think.


David_Signature.png

 

 

 

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Contributed by Dr. Andy Wells, Charnwood Technical Consulting Ltd.

 

The inspiration for this article came from some work I recently carried out with collaborators in the CHEM 21 consortium, looking at solvent use in the pharmaceutical industry. While there has been a lot of progress and excellent work published in the field of solvent selection, it is clear that this is a journey that is underway, and there is still work to do to influence solvent selection in a global context (Survey of Solvent Usage in Papers Published in Organic Process Research and Development 1997-2012).

 

So why the concern over solvents? In most cases, solvents are not the most expensive contributor to the cost of a pharmaceutical, but it has become clear that they make a major contribution to the life cycle impact of a product due to the natural resources and energy embedded in to their manufacture/ recycle/disposal (GSK Experiences in Life Cycle Inventory and Assessment). It has also become clear over the past 20 years or so that several solvents have undesirable toxicity towards humans and /or adverse effects in the environment. A further recent related consideration is environmental legislation such as REACH in the European Union, which may seek to restrict or phase out the most hazardous solvents (substances of very high concern) – (REACH - Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).

 

So, how do you choose a solvent for a reaction? For many chemists, especially those that have not worked in process or manufacturing environments, this is probably via a semi- automatic, instinctive process. You might be reproducing an experiment from a paper, or using a published method using similar reagents/products. You might consult a standard text book or think back to grad school where specific solvent classes were recommended for certain transformations. Of course, practiced chemists will have their ‘favorite’ solvents, and experience of what works well for a particular reaction type.

 

The selection of an ‘optimum’ solvent for a process is actually quite a complex task, with the solvent needing to full fill a number of tasks:

  • Good mixing (mass transport/phases)
  • Selectivity – acceptable yield and impurity profile
  • Acceptable reaction rate
  • Scalability – solvent presents no  (or manageable) safety issues
  • Enabling process safety – exotherm control through reflux
  • Isolation – high purity product in the desired crystalline form with acceptable levels of residual solvent.

 

So if the solvent initially chosen, or reported in the literature, does have a poor safety/environmental profile, are you stuck with it? Well, not necessarily, there may be better options available. Take nucleophilic substitution reactions – SNAr and SN2. These reactions are typically run in dipolar aprotic solvents like N,N-dimethylacetamide (DMF). A number of solvents in this class are coming under increasing scrutiny and legislation due to undesirable reprotoxicity effects. However, there could be a number of alternatives to avoid solvents like DMF in SN type reactions.

 

Choose a member of this solvent class with minimal risks.

 

Does the reaction have to be run in that solvent class? A number of Sn-type reactions will run in other solvent classes like alcohols or ketones.

 

If a more beguine solvent works, but suffers from a poor reaction rate, can it be used under pressure to increase the reaction temperature above the boiling point and increase rate?

 

Can catalysis/additives be used to promote the desired reaction in a more beguine solvent?

 

Can a more beguine solvent(s) be used with additives like phase transfer catalysts?

 

Another good reaction class is amide bond formation – often accomplished in solvents like DMF or dichloromethane. There have been several recent publications describing alternative greener solvents for this reaction (Better Solvents for Peptide Synthesis , Evaluation of alternative solvents in common amide coupling reactions: replacement of dichloromethane and N,N-dimethylformamide)

 

There is probably no ‘ideal’ solvent – choice is always a number of trade –offs between desired performance of the process and safety/environmental factors, however good solvent selection needs careful choice and consideration driven by data. So, good luck with your reactions, and do give some serious consideration to solvent selection. To conclude, below are some links that lead to useful resources on solvents and solvent selection.

 

1. Green chemistry tools to influence a medicinal chemistry and research chemistry based organisation

2. Expanding GSK's solvent selection guide – embedding sustainability into solvent selection starting at medicinal chemistry

3. Sanofi’s Solvent Selection Guide: A Step Toward More Sustainable Processes

4. ACS GCI Roundtable solvent guide

 

 

 

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Are you a student looking to be recognized for your efforts in green chemistry research? If so, there are two awards administered by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® to look into!

 

The ACS GCI Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship Award sponsors young, international green chemistry scholars to participate in an international green chemistry technical meeting, conference or training program. The student is awarded up to $2,000, based on estimated travel fees. This "young" scholar is defined as undergraduate students, graduate students, post doctoral fellows, and above, but below the level of assistant professor and within the first seven years of a professional career. Applicants residing within the U.S. or abroad are eligible for this award. The applicant must demonstrate research or educational interest in green chemistry.14116-60.jpg

 

The Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award provides national recognition for outstanding student contributions to furthering the goals of green chemistry through research and/or studies. This includes but is not limited to the research, development, and implementation of fundamental and innovative chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use, and that have the potential to be utilized in achieving national pollution prevention goals.The recipient of the award receives $1000, plus travel and registration to the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference held in the Washington, D.C. area July, 2015.

 

The deadline for both awards is February 2, 2015.

 

 

 

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Contributed by Richard Engler, Senior Policy Advisor with Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

 

In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) renewed their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), continuing the partnership centered on the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The award cycle returned to its original schedule with the 2015 ceremony set to coincide with the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, as it had until 2013. This year the conference will be held on July 14-16, 2015, in North Bethesda, Maryland. This recommitment between EPA and ACS GCI is an expression of the continued dedication each has to creating opportunities for the growth and development of green chemistry. 2015 is especially significant as it represents the 20th year for the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The award ceremony and conference should highlight both the success of years past and the potential of years to come.

 

There are other positive indicators about the direction of green chemistry in the coming year as well. On January 5, 2015, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) published “Predictions and Outlook for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2015” (The Outlook). It covers the full range of OCSPP issues, including green chemistry and Design for the Environment (DfE).

 

In 2014, Jim Jones, OCSPP’s Assistant Administrator, continued his focus on green chemistry and DfE. Jones visited award winners to gain a deeper understanding of their technologies and businesses. Jones’s engagement in both programs should continue in 2015. DfE is undergoing revitalization in 2015.

 

EPA is expected to reveal the new Safer Product Labeling logo. DfE is also looking to expand its Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) and is providing new opportunities for DfE partners to be recognized for their efforts.

 

The New Year will also see more interactions between green chemistry and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). As you may know, manufacturers must submit “premanufacture notices” (PMN) to EPA prior to manufacturing or importing any substance not listed on the TSCA Inventory or otherwise exempt. TSCA allows EPA to review new substances for unreasonable risk to human health or the environment.

 

Most green chemistry technologies are classified as “new” under TSCA rules, so they must clear this hurdle. Some green chemistry technologies have drawbacks in one phase of their lifecycle and benefits in another. For example, a biobased substance may be less toxic to humans, but more toxic to fish relative to the petroleum-based incumbent. The challenge for EPA is how to consider these impacts, both positive and negative, especially relative to existing chemicals in commerce.  Historically, EPA has only focused on the substance itself, its hazard, releases, and exposures, to determine “unreasonable risk.” Biobased chemicals, using waste as a feedstock, and greener production methods present new challenges to EPA as these benefits are upstream of the substance itself.  As discussed in The Outlook, some green chemistry technologies have languished in the new chemicals review process or have been subject to requirements different from those imposed on nearly identical, existing chemicals. To avoid undue delays, some submitters have taken advantage of voluntary pollution prevention (P2) statements in PMNs to clarify the benefits of the novel technology to aid EPA in its decision-making. Even with this additional information, it is not a trivial task for EPA to compare and evaluate the relative risks and benefits at different stages of a chemical’s lifecycle. Novel biobased feedstocks, intermediates, and products will challenge both EPA and industry in 2015.

 

While some aspects of TSCA may be a barrier to new green chemistry technologies, TSCA can also be a driver for change. EPA regulatory action on existing chemicals will provide new drivers for companies to develop and deploy green chemistry. Near the end of 2014, EPA published its update on Work Plan and Action Plan chemicals. In particular, decisions on trichloroethylene, dichloromethane, benzedine dyes, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, phthalates, and long-chain perfluoroalkyl carbonates all present increasingly important targets for green chemistry innovations. Similarly, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is moving ahead with its actions on priority chemicals and, of course, implementing the Safer Consumer Products Regulations.

 

Information about chemical design may get a boost from the maturation of EPA’s Computation Toxicology tools that allow rapid screening for endocrine disruption. The coming year is likely to also see progress on TSCA reform, which may include provisions relating to green chemistry.

 

While EPA struggles with diminished funding and diminished numbers of senior scientists (mostly through retirement), the fundamental prospects for green chemistry remain sound: There are many problems to solve and many scientists and engineers working to find sustainable ways to solve them. EPA and ACS GCI will continue to be central to supporting and nurturing green chemistry.

 

 

 

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Scientists are getting closer to copying plants' ability to convert sunlight into fuel. For years, scientists have been pursuing "artificial leaf" technology, a green approach to making hydrogen fuel that copies plants' ability to convert sunlight into a form of energy they can use. Now, one team reports progress toward a stand-alone system that lends itself to large-scale, low-cost production. They describe their nanowire mesh design in the journal ACS Nano.

 

Peidong Yang, Bin Liu and colleagues note that harnessing sunlight to split water and harvest hydrogen is one of the most intriguing ways to achieve clean energy. Automakers have started introducing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which only emit water when driven. But making hydrogen, which mostly comes from natural gas, requires electricity from conventional carbon dioxide-emitting power Leaf.pngplants. Producing hydrogen at low cost from water using the clean energy from the sun would make this form of energy, which could also power homes and businesses, far more environmentally friendly. Building on a decade of work in this area, Yang's team has taken one more step toward this goal.

 

The researchers took a page from the paper industry, using one of its processes to make a flat mesh out of light-absorbing semiconductor nanowires that, when immersed in water and exposed to sunlight, produces hydrogen gas. The scientists say that the technique could allow their technology to be scaled up at low cost. Although boosting efficiency remains a challenge, their approach — unlike other artificial leaf systems — is free-standing and doesn't require any additional wires or other external devices that would add to the environmental footprint. The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Singapore-Berkeley Research Initiative for Sustainable Energy

 

This story is available at: http://pubs.acs.org

 

From the ACS Office of Public Affairs

 

 

 

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