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Polaroid revolutionized traditional photography by compressing darkroom processes into an integrated film unit and producing a final photograph in the seconds following the click of a camera shutter. A symposium titled “Edwin Land and Instant Photography: Massachusetts’ First National Historic Chemical Landmark” will reflect on Polaroid’s novel R&D procedures. Speakers will include Judy Giordan (Henry F. Whalen, Jr., Award winner), Larry Friedman, Chris Hollinsed, Mike Filosa, and John C. Warner (Perkin Award winner), who will discuss “What Else Evolved from Polaroid? Green Chemistry.” Sunday, Aug. 16, from 2:00 to 4:30 PM at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Room 50.


The American Chemical Society will dedicate the former Polaroid Research Laboratory as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on Aug. 13, during a ceremony at the MIT Museum in Cambridge. ACS members are invited to attend; registration is required.




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Contributed by Ashley Baker, Intern, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


Early Monday morning, leading up to the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference (GC&E), this year’s student workshop began with nearly seven dozen alphabetized nametags and a matching number of chairs set at two long rows of tables inside the ACS Headquarters in Washington, D.C.


From Thailand to Ohio, and from Brazil to Ireland, the next generation of green chemists gathered to participate in a “Greening Your Research” workshop to learn about green chemistry principles, metrics, and how to incorporate greener practices into their own research. There was a buzz of excitement as students introduced themselves in a room of peers who shared their same passion; a unifying purpose – to learn more about green chemistry - created a sense of community even before the first presentation.


student workshop.jpgDr. Peter Mahaffy, professor of chemistry at the King’s University (Edmonton), opened the day asking if there were any chefs in the room, followed by a quote from Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice,


“It is no more excusable for a fireman not to know that a fire burns, or a chef not to know that knife cuts, than for chemists not to know the character of the tools of their trade.  Equipped, or burdened, with this knowledge, the chemist must confront responsibilities….Because chemists possess the understanding of molecular manipulation and have the information necessary to assess how these manipulations may or may not put human health and the environment at risk, they have entered an era where this knowledge must play a central role in the conduct of the trade.  This realization by the purveyors of green chemistry is being viewed as an opportunity rather than a limitation.”


Mahaffy then asked participants at each table about their goals for the workshop. There was a common theme to the answers: to explore what tools are needed to create a sustainable future and to take those tools back to their labs. One student summarized for his group, “we want to be catalysts for green chemistry.”


Throughout the day, instructors David Constable (Director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute), Dr. Marie Bourgeois (University of South Florida), Dr. Peter Mahaffy, and Dr. Thomas Umile (Gwynedd Mercy University) covered topics such as green chemistry metrics, toxicology, chemical use responsibility and ethics, and classic “textbook” reactions re-imagined with consideration of environmental and safety concerns.


Even at the end of the 9-hour workshop, students continued to ask questions, discuss the potential to incorporate what they’d learned, and engage with other participants at their tables. The excitement from the beginning of the day was carried throughout with help from remarks by the instructors, including David Constable’s reminder to the group, “If we all do a few small things it really does become something meaningful.”



The following morning at the conference center, where this year’s GC&E conference fully came to life, there was a similar buzz of enthusiasm with regard to what the incorporation of green chemistry into education can achieve.


Short, rapid-fire education presentations covered a wide variety of initiatives.  Examples ranged from single classes in which green chemistry was successfully implemented, to university-wide programs, to broad-scale efforts like the roadmap for green chemistry education. Creative efforts including outreach to non-science majors, the general public and k-12 students contributed yet another possible approach. A theme of interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches emerged, and all presenters emphasized the need to move green chemistry forward.


Presentations on large-scale initiatives took a slightly different angle to the example-oriented talks and focused more on long-term planning projects. Dr. Jim Hutchison gave a progress report on the green chemistry education roadmap, giving an overview of the next steps in the process of creating a community-driven plan for defining the needs and common goals of the community. He reflected that, “We’ve made some nice progress to focus the scope of the roadmap for green chemistry education. I’m excited to take the next major step during the visioning workshop this fall.”


The visioning workshop, scheduled to take place this September, will convene a group of representative stakeholders to define the scope and metrics for the project. The difference between the smooth road that many educators see as a student’s experience in chemistry, and the reality of the bumps and curves that often exist was highlighted to emphasize the need for a roadmap. Dr. Peter Mahaffy gave an overview of how the education community might construct the green chemistry and engineering highway, suggesting that the roadmap (a) starts by identifying the travelers (students) and learning where they need to travel; (b) understands how the guides (chemists and educators) view the chemistry education road ahead; (c) is built in partnership with both chemistry educators and other sustainability science stakeholders, and should include vistas of Earth’s planetary boundaries and raise awareness of our place in time; and (d) the goal should be for the highway to become a preferred route for students and educators leading through and toward mainstream chemistry concepts. He then outlined some of the implications of this roadmap for new evidence-based pedagogical approaches.


An education workshop, led by Drs. Peter Mahaffy and Julie Haack, challenged participants to consider in what areas of the general and organic chemistry curricula green chemistry could be seamlessly integrated. Workshop participants were challenged to create new learning objectives for chemistry topics that included not only “what we know” but also required explanations of “how we know it” and “why we care.” Julie Haack noted that the “student centered approach resonated with both faculty and graduate students attending the workshop.” In evaluating the workshop, participants found that, while the activities required effort and posed some challenges, many left with concrete ideas for how to rework their own course outlines for general and organic chemistry.


The energy and passion shown throughout the GC&E conference and the student workshop were welcome reminders of the passion felt by so many students and educators. As the community works to build the roadmap for green chemistry education, it’s this kind of persistent commitment that will result in the transformation of all chemistry to green chemistry.


If you missed the conference or weren’t able to attend the education sessions, all presentations will be available for free this August at ACS Presentation on Demand.


Want to get involved? Email or visit the roadmap project website.


Are you a chemistry educator? Participate in our forthcoming survey which will soon be accessible via the above link.




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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

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


July has been an eventful month for sustainable and green chemistry. The 5th through the 8th I was privileged to be in Tokyo for the 7th International Conference on Green and Sustainable Chemistry / 4th Japan Association of Chemical Industries/GSC Symposium.  I am always extremely grateful to be invited to participate in green and sustainable chemistry meetings around the world. These conferences are a fantastic opportunity to see and experience all the great work that is being done to move the global chemistry enterprise towards more sustainable practices.


Being in Japan brings a refreshingly different perspective to the global chemistry enterprise, especially as one looks at how an industry so dependent on petroleum may transition to increasing use of alternative carbon sources at scale. It’s also a great pleasure to see leading academics in Asia report their successes in catalysis, biomass conversion, flow chemistry, etc. There appears to be far less of a barrier to blending chemistry and chemical engineering (and other disciplines) as there is in the United States, and this is a great strength in my opinion. Overall, it was a stimulating conference and I am very much looking forward to attending the 8th International Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Monash University, under the patient leadership of Dr. Milton Hearn, has put together an outstanding bid for the Conference in 2017 and it is sure to be a memorable conference.


The next big week was the week of July 13th. There is so much that accompanies the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference it is difficult to capture it all.  Whatever one might say about the conference, it was, in my opinion, an unqualified success.  We were delighted to begin the week with an NSF-sponsored student workshop on integrating green chemistry into research.  Kudos to Dr. Peter Mahaffy, Dr. Marie Bourgeois, and Dr. Thomas Umile on their work to give very practical guidance to about 80 students on how to integrate green chemistry into their own work. Monday evening we were excited to once again host the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. There are now 6 categories of winning nominations, including an academic award, a small business award, and 4 focus areas that were won by small, medium and large businesses. You can find out more about the winners and the program here, and I hope you will agree that the judges picked very worthy technologies for this year’s honors.


RT reception david intro.jpgIt isn’t apparent to everyone, but there is a large amount of activity throughout the week focused on the industrial implementation of green chemistry and engineering. The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical, Chemical Manufacturers, Formulator’s and Hydraulic Fracturing roundtables all meet for face-to-face roundtable meetings and a poster reception,  in addition to arranging, chairing and/or speaking in 7 sessions. It’s a huge contribution to the overall success of the conference and we are very grateful for the many examples of green chemistry integration and success in industry that they provide.


We were honored and extremely grateful to Senator Chris Coons for taking the time to join us to speak about his vision for Sustainable Chemistry. Traveling outside the beltway is an enormous inconvenience (as anyone in the D.C. area can attest to) and clearly demonstrates Senator Coon’s passion and commitment to promoting science in general, and sustainable chemistry in particular. Our Keynote speakers, Dr. Deborah Mielewski, Senior Technical Leader, Materials Sustainability from Ford, Dr. Frances Arnold, Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering at Caltech, and Dr. Angela Belcher, W. M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT, were all outstanding speakers and captivated the audience with good humor and gee whiz science.


Staff Pic.jpgNone of this would be possible without the hard work on the part of many people.  The conference organizing committee members, Dr. David Leahy of BMS, Dr. Bruce Lipshutz, Dr. Richard Wool, and Dr. Joseph Stanzione assembled an outstanding technical program.  We are also very grateful to all of our sponsors and exhibitors who made this conference possible and have added to its attraction. Last, but not least, there is an army of ACS staff, ACS GCI staff, and volunteers who have contributed to the success of this conference over the course of the past year; without them, this conference would not be a reality. Special mention of Jenny MacKellar, our ACS GCI Program Manager, and our Conference Organizer Jane Day, for working patiently and diligently over many months to make the conference possible and memorable.




I hope to see you all in Portland Oregon next June 14th through the 16th for the 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference!


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






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Contributed by James Oristian, 2015 ACS Green Chemistry Institute® Summer Intern


The theme of this month’s Nexus Newsletter is climate change, and how green chemistry can improve our relationship with our atmosphere. The earth is warmed by the sun in a process known as solar radiation, and this heat can either be absorbed by the earth’s crust or reflected into space. The problem arises when the heat reflected off the earth is trapped by gases expelled by humans that are trapped between earth and space. These gases with global warming potential (GWP) are some compounds that you may be familiar with, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, as well as lesser known contributors like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Of course there are small things individuals can do to make an impact- use less water, turn off lights when not in use-but what about large-scale, upstream impact? That’s where green chemistry takes the spotlight.


The chemical industry and transportation are two of the largest contributors to this greenhouse effect due to their expulsion of the compounds listed above, which makes the emergence of green technology even more vital. In the US alone, 6,673 Million Metric Tons of CO2 was released in 2013, with 21% of that volume attributed to industrial sectors, and 27% due to transportation. To combat the growing levels of GWP gases, the chemical and transportation industries must look to green chemistry as a superhero, and the US EPA has granted companies and individuals that promote environmental and economic benefits of using greener chemistry with the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (PGCCA). But who are the heroes behind the mask?


One of the lesser known, but hazardous group of compounds that contribute to climate change are VOCs. They have high vapor pressure in ambient conditions, which causes them to evaporate or sublimate easily as gases. These gases are found in a wide variety of common products like paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, glues, adhesives and fuels. Environmentally, these gases can be problematic because they can react with nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere to form ozone, a large contributor to global warming, as well as smog. Some VOCs are known carcinogens and present other health hazards.


So what’s to be done? Two prominent companies recognized by the EPA that are committed to reducing VOC emissions are Proctor & Gamble and the Sherwin-Williams Company. Sherwin-Williams was recognized in 2011 by the EPA for the development of a Water-based Acrylic Alkyd Technology in the Designing Greener Chemicals award category. Instead of their paints being oil-based alkyd solutions that release VOCs when paint dries, Sherwin-Williams combined recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from recycled soda bottles, acrylics and soybean oil to manufacture a more environmentally friendly paint. The technology used low-VOC alkyd-acrylic dispersion technology, with PET polymers for rigidity, acrylics for drying and soy bean oil to promote film formation and gloss. The final product had superior quality but lacked the harmful components of typical paints. Since the time of the launch of their products ProClassic Waterbased Acrylic Alkyd, ProMar 200 Waterbased Acrylic Alkyd, and ProIndustrial Waterborne Enamel in 2010, Sherwin-Williams eliminated the use of 800,000 pounds of VOC solvents and petroleum-based feedstocks.


But Sherwin-Williams wasn’t the only major company to hop on the anti-VOC bandwagon. Proctor & Gamble Company and Cook Composites & Polymers Company won the PGCCA award in 2009 for Designing Greener chemicals due to their Chempol® MPS Resins and Sefose® Sucrose Esters in their low-VOC Alkyd Paints and Coatings. Sefose® esters are prepared from vegetable oil by esterifying sucrose with fatty acids, without a solvent. Sefose® cross-links with other components in the paint and becomes part of the solution, allowing for fast drying, toughness, and high gloss. The positive effects of this technology are impressive; reduction of VOCs equivalent to 7,000,000 cars per year, ground-level ozone reduction by 215,000 tons per year and 900,000 barrels of crude oil saved. Even better, Sefose oil is safe to use, and extraordinary precautions are not needed. Since the award was given in 2009, the technology was developed to use Sefose Oils to replace petroleum-based lubricants at Proctor & Gamble, with in-house testing on small machines like drills and plans to test large machines like jackhammers.


While reducing VOCs is certainly crucial for making our climate greener, it usually isn’t the first thing that individuals imagine when they are thinking about climate change. The impact of transportation for climate change is enormous. Estimates place the number of motor vehicles on the planet at around 1.2 billion. Just 2.5% are battery electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell vehicles. By some estimates the total number could double to 2.5 billion by 2050. With such a large amount of cars on the road and the vast majority of them being gasoline powered, that begs the question: what is there to do? Chemists have answered the call for developing cheaper methods to produce alternative fuels, to drive the market away from gas guzzlers and toward greener pastures.


One PGCCA winning company committed to alternative fuel is a small business named LS9, who was awarded an award in 2010 for Microbial Production of Renewable Petroleum Fuels and Chemicals. The company REG life sciences acquired LS9 in January 2014 and continue to use LS9’s technology. LS9 developed a microorganism that uses a sugar cane, corn syrup, sweet sorghum syrup, molasses, glycerin and biomass feedstock to manufacture a fuel that eliminates benzene, sulfur, and heavy metals commonly found in petroleum-based diesel. These organisms produce more than you’d expect; aside from the alkanes for use as diesel, jet fuel and gas, they can also produce olefins for lubricants and polymers, fatty alcohols for use as surfactants, aldehydes for insulation and resins, fatty acids for soaps and chemical intermediates and fatty esters for biodiesel and chemical intermediates all in a single-unit operation. This efficiency has led to a 85% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions according to the GREET model for life cycle analysis when compared to petroleum-based production. Since LS9 uses a one step process, no distillations or other methods are needed; the final process is immiscible and easily accessible with centrifugation.


Aside from microbes there are other ways to produce fuels, such as plants. Virent Energy Systems, a company based out of Madison, WI is making drop-in replacements for crude oil by transforming plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules instead of refining petroleum with their BioForming technology. The fuel produced is identical to petroleum based molecules and can therefore be used in any manufacturing facility, pipelines and fueling stations, as well as current engines. Virent uses aqueous-phase reforming to treat carbohydrates destined to become fuel. The product of this process is then treated with water in the presence of a heterogeneous metal catalyst to make hydrogen and chemical intermediates. Finally, a catalytic route is selected to turn intermediates into gasoline, diesel or other fuels. The technology is flexible, and can produce alkane fuel gases and other end-products from a singular feedstock. Both C5 and C6 sugars from cellulosic biomass can be used as a feed stock. Distillation is not required as the biofuels naturally separate from water. The monetary advantage of Virent’s fuel makes the renewable technology viable: fuels have a 20-30% per British thermal units over ethanol. Virent’s fuel also has higher energy content than ethanol, with a higher octane rating and energy content that is higher than premium petroleum-derived gasoline. Virent received fuel registration from the EPA for its use in on-highway motor vehicles in August 2014.


Climate change is real, and is quickly changing our planet. The first step to solving the climate issue is to educate those who are unaware of the growing problem so that we can all collectively act together to fix our environment. Secondly, we need to change the perception that the chemical industry currently has. Corporations and society should take note of the example companies like Virent, REGLife Science, Proctor & Gamble and Sherwin-Williams have set and utilize green chemistry to cut costs and reduce environmental impact. Those that focus on eliminating environmental effects and toxicity before they are generated, rather than trying to clean up these hazards after they’ve been created are the wave of the future. Now more than ever it is of utmost importance to realize the impact that the chemical industry has on the climate of the earth, and the power it has to change the world for the better.




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On Wednesday, July 15, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) hosted the final round of the 2015 Green Chemistry and Engineering Business Plan Competition. Three semi-finalists arrived at the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference (GC&E) in Bethesda, MD to present their business plans to a panel of expert judges and compete for a $10,000 prize. The day was much anticipated after months of preliminary activities which included an executive summary round, a business plan round, and a social media round.


With the intent of enabling new technologies and providing entrepreneurship-related educational opportunities for the green chemistry community, the ACS GCI put out a call for executive summaries from early-stage green chemistry and engineering companies. From more than a dozen applications, the three semi-finalists were selected:

  • IBEX: Dedicated to the development of bionomic products in the areas of Agriculture, Environmental Remediation, Bio-Industry, and Human Health
  • SustAnalyze: data-driven software that speed up the development of sustainable chemicals by increasing efficiency of chemical R&D processes
  • Verdant Applied Sciences: advanced chemical recycling technology, where automation makes recycling practical in any lab.


The semi-finalists were then provided a free subscription to Business Plan Pro and a free webinar on the software led by Dr. Dan Daly, the Director of Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs. With this new toolbox, the teams then had to complete a full written business plan and prepare a twelve minute presentation for the in-person final round.


In an effort to raise awareness of green chemistry and emphasize the important role chemistry plays in all of our lives, the third and most unique component of this competition was the social media score. We ran a crowdsourcing campaign called “Change the World with Green Chemistry,” which allowed for anyone in the world to have a stake in this competition. This platform enabled individuals from all backgrounds to learn how these new technologies are changing the world and then vote for the one(s) they want to see come to market.


The teams were well-practiced and ready to present to the expert judges: Dr. Dan Daly, Dr. Rajesh Mehta (Program Manager at the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research Program), and Nareg Sagherian (Chief Commercialization Officer, Policy Advisor, and Investment Officer for the Small Business Administration). After watching all three presentations, grilling each team with hard-hitting questions, and individual feedback sessions, the judges deliberated and selected Verdant as the grand prize winner!


Verdant.jpgMatt Miles, Founder and Director of Research & Development of Verdant. Credit - Peter Cutts Photography


"The contest is very true to its stated goals of supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in the green technology space. Many business plan competitions that are springing up attempt to impose geographical or financial terms that may not be in the best interest the business' growth," said Matt Miles, Founder and Director of Research & Development of Verdant. "The steps requested were all very beneficial to the development of the business as the contest moved forward, beginning with the pitch video, and then developing the full business plan, and promoting the business on social media, and finally preparing and delivering a presentation with valuable feedback at the end. Each of these added value to the business that carries forward beyond the victory or loss of the competition. Without the competition, I would not be quite so far along."


Verdant has developed a programmable solvent recycler. The company’s pilot product enables complex mixtures to be separated for the first time. Whether it’s hazardous chemical waste, wastewater, or other outputs, the chemical industry and academic labs are constantly managing solvent mixtures (and are often sent for incineration). Currently, the Verdant prototype saves the user over $40 for every gallon of common laboratory solvent recycled. The company was created by Miles, a graduate of Northern Kentucky University who has guided product development from concept to implementation. Alongside Miles, Nathan Kinsmann serves as an engineer overseeing manufacturing and operations and David Abdon as the head of sales and marketing.


"With the completion of the industrial scale pilot, the next steps involve demonstrating the machine in front of some interested parties," said Miles. "While the concept was envisioned as a stand-alone recycler, some manufacturers have expressed interest in incorporating the technology into their existing architecture. The initial revenue from licensing this technology to firms who can put it into immediate use would allow us to secure in-house means of production, and to develop programs which will expand the types of hazardous waste which it can separate and recycle."


We look forward to watching Verdant and the other competing companies develop, and to preparing for next year’s competition which will be hosted at the 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in June 2016 in Portland, OR!


Thank you to all who participated in the competition! And a huge thank you again to our three judges/panelists who helped review the applications and make the day a huge success.


If you would like to participate in or sponsor the 2016 competition, email Savannah Sullivan (




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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

On Wednesday evening of the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI)  Roundtables hosted the 5th Annual ACS GCI Roundtable Poster Reception, dedicated to green chemistry in industry.


The event was welcomed by all four of the ACS GCI roundtables: Chemical Manufacturer’s (ChMR), Formulators’ (FR), Hydraulic Fracturing (HFR), and Pharmaceutical (PR). While the conference convenes a broad audience of more than 400 people, the Roundtable Reception hosts a more focused audience of about 120 people drawn largely from industry but includes selected esteemed colleagues from government and non-government organizations, and academia performing highly relevant research.

The room was filled with government officials (US EPA, USDA, Department of Commerce, etc.), industry professionals, and academics in attendance whose work is dedicated to addressing challenges in the chemical industry and developing green chemistry solutions. The evening is centered around the invited poster presenters, whose work is on display throughout the evening to inspire collaborations across the value chain to develop innovative, more sustainable products and processes in various sectors of the chemical industry.


This year’s reception was sponsored by Pfizer, Solvay, HESI, and Johnson & Johnson. The night began with opening remarks from ACS GCI Director David Constable, John Tucker, a senior scientist at Amgen and co-chair of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable, Juan Colberg, a director at Pfizer and co-chair of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable, and Diane Grob Schmidt, ACS President and adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati. The remarks were followed by recognition of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable’s 10 year anniversary—all year the Roundtable has been hosting events (such as a research symposium in Basel, Switzerland, technical sessions and a reception at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, and technical sessions at ACS National Meeting in Boston). To celebrate at the reception the Roundtable unveiled their 2015 update to their 2007 publication, Key Green Chemistry Research Areas—a perspective from pharmaceutical managers, and Berkeley “Buzz” Cue (a current adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and co-founder of the Roundtable) cut the ceremonial anniversary cake.


Reception.jpg(L to R) Tom Burns of Novozymes and Phil Sliva of Amway (co-chairs of the Formulators' Roundtable), Juan Colberg of Pfiizer (exiting co-chair of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable), John Tucker of Amgen and Stefan Koenig of Genentech (current co-chairs of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable), Julie Manley of Guiding Green LLC (Roundtable Coordinator), and Berkeley "Buzz" Cue. Credit - Peter Cutts Photography.


Overall, with food and conversations flowing for hours, the night was a hit. With the objective being to expand attendees' network in order to advance the research, development, and marketing of industrially relevant, greener alternatives, over 90% of the event's survey respondents indicated that the reception met or exceeded this objective. With new partnerships already underway from the reception, we are already looking forward to next year's event, in Portland, Oregon in conjunction with the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 14-16, 2016!




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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Sofinnova Partners, the top renewable chemistry venture capital firm, has announced that Glucan Biorenewables is the winner of the prestigious Renewable Chemistry Start-Up Award.  Following a public vote with almost 8,000 votes cast, the top 5 companies were shortlisted.  These companies then presented yesterday to a jury of industry experts at the BIO World Congress in Montreal.


The top 5 shortlisted companies (in alphabetical order):


  • Eggplant reuses wastewater as raw material to produce eco-friendly products such as high-performance bioplastics (PHA) through a zero waste process.
  • GFBiochemicals is the first company to produce levulinic acid at commercial scale directly from biomass by using a proprietary technology in their commercial-scale plant in Caserta, Italy.
  • Glucan Biorenewables is producing furan derivatives from biomass.  The furfural platform will be used to launch other value-added co-products: 5-hydroxyl-methyl furfural (HMF) and downstream derivatives.
  • Leaf Resources Ltd has developed a new pretreatment technology that enables plant biomass to be converted efficiently and economically into highly usable cellulose products.
  • Syngulon is developing original genetic technologies to improve the efficiency of microorganisms involved in industrial bio production.


Denis Lucquin, Managing Partner at Sofinnova Partners said “Sofinnova Partners is delighted to have launched this award and by the response received as we are constantly seeking ways to support cutting-edge renewable chemistry start-ups.”


This award was supported by Sustainability Consult, the leading bioeconomy communications and public relations agency, committed to building the biobased industries through credible communications, media outreach and stakeholder engagement.


Sustainability Consult CEO Kathryn Sheridan said “Sofinnova Partners and Sustainability Consult both excel at taking start-ups from concept to commercialisation.  We work together to help develop the biobased industries in a sustainable way.”



Original article located: Press Release: Glucan Biorenewables Wins Sofinnova Partners Renewable Chemistry Start-Up Award

Media Contact: Kathryn Sheridan Sustainability Consult




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Contributed by Kimberly Gervase, Executive Director, North Carolina Science Olympiad, and Melissa Pasquinelli, PhD, 2013 Chair of the North Carolina section of ACS.


Thanks to a generous grant from the ACS and the extensive resources available on the Climate Science toolkit website, students across the country are learning more about climate science.


Science Olympiad is a nationwide STEM competition where students work on teams to become experts in a variety of content areas.  These teams compete locally at regional tournaments, with the top teams advancing to their state and then national competitions.  In 2013, the North Carolina Section of the American Chemical Society (NCACS) was awarded an ACS Climate Science Challenge Grant to fund a collaborative project with the NC Science Olympiad program to provide resources, volunteers, and expertise to develop and run their ‘Green Generation’ middle school and high school event, covering topics on the human impacts on the environment and green chemistry initiatives.


climate science toolkit.jpgGreen Generation’s topics included identifying problems with the human impacts that harm the quality of our environment related to the general principles of ecology, the world’s oceans and estuaries, greenhouse gases, and consequences of pollution and other human-produced threats to the environment.  In the first year, this topic was included in 14 NC Science Olympiad tournaments across the state of North Carolina, reaching more than 1000 students.  In 2015, the topic was adopted at the national level and was run across the country, reaching over 5000 students nationwide.  It will also be an event in the 2016 competition, with a focus on terrestrial environments.


Students, teachers, coaches, and judges used the resources provided on the ACS Climate Change Toolkit Website to explore climate change topics and understand the science behind climate change and possible remediation techniques. Thus, the Climate Science Toolkit is providing a solid foundation for the knowledge development of this new generation of top-notch future scientists and engineers as well as their teachers and Science Olympiad coaches.


One of the NC-ACS volunteer question writers, Dr. Gary K. Smith, notes “I have written questions for middle and high school Science Olympiad participants and was pleased to find the excellent ACS Climate Science Toolkit on the web.  I use its content to produce questions to help the students think more deeply about the realities of climate change.  For example, many people have seen the famous “hockey stick” CO2 plot, but the tool box 14CO2 and 13CO2 data allowed me to ask students whether they really know that the CO2 comes from fossil fuel, rather than wood, burning.”


“We couldn’t be happier with the level of commitment shown by our local ACS chapter to help us write good content that is meaningful to our students,” said Kim Gervase, Executive Director, NC Science Olympiad.  “Members dedicated many hours collaborating to create good content questions and finding research and data that helped students apply their knowledge to the real world.  This partnership has shown how teachers, researchers and industry partners can work together to help more students explore their interests in meaningful ways. By exposing these top-notch students to members of the community who work or have worked in this area, they are able to see what avenues are available to them in the future and are able to make personal connections that can help with throughout their lives.  Engaging these students is critical, as we need them to continue to find solutions to our issues surrounding global warming and pollution."


Dr. Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, who launched the ACS Climate Science Initiative while serving as 2012 ACS president, mentioned “Science Olympiad activities are greatly enriched by having participants focus sharply on important scientific and societal challenges and in particular climate change.”  Shakhashiri said, “As a former judge, award presenter, and host to several state and national Science Olympiads, I applaud all efforts to educate students and their communities so meaningful action can be taken for the benefit of Earth and its people.”


Students are excited about the chance to test their knowledge in a competitive environment.  “So many of the students thanked me for creating a good test as they left the National competition,” said Ms. Gervase.  “How many times are you thanked for letting kids take tests on a Saturday?  In Olympiad, it’s every week!”




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Article by Stacey Adams, Communications and PR Manager, Algenol


65 Nobel laureates recently signed a declaration stating that climate change poses a “threat of comparable magnitude” to nuclear war. And concluded, that “if left unchecked, will lead to wholesale human tragedy.” But Florida-based biofuels company, Algenol IS successfully doing something about it!


Algenol has just received the prestigious 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Award, at a ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. for its environmental benefits concerning climate change. This is a brand new category, and Algenol is the inaugural recipient. The award, sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) recognizes outstanding accomplishments in research, development and implementation of green chemical technologies.


“It is a great honor to receive the Presidential Chemistry Award for Climate Change," says Algenol’s CEO Paul Woods, who accepted last night’s award. “We feel Algenol is in the best position to mitigate climate change. It’s wonderful to be recognized by the White House for our game-changing technology that turns carbon pollution into a profitable and sustainable business by utilizing flue gas CO2 to produce the world’s four most important transportation fuels.”


To qualify for the award, companies must have reached a significant milestone within the past five years in the United States demonstrating technical and environmental benefits of green chemistry technology.


Algenol has developed a patented technology using algae to produce the four most important fuels: ethanol, gasoline, jet and diesel fuel. All for about $1.30 a gallon! The company captures, recycles and utilizes CO2. Its pathway reduces Green House Gas Emissions by 69% compared to gasoline according to the official EPA pathway approval. A single 2,000 acre commercial Algenol module is the equivalent to planting 40-million trees or removing 36-thousand cars from the road!


Ethanol, used in gas pumps across the country, is typically made from the fermentation of sugars produced by plants such as corn and sugar cane. But through the innovation of converting algae into a “green crude”, Algenol has successfully developed a fossil fuel replacement with yields 20 times greater than that of corn.


“We congratulate those who bring innovative solutions that will help solve some of the most critical environmental problems,” says Jim Jones, the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce the use of energy, hazardous chemicals and water, while cutting manufacturing costs and sparking investments.”


Algenol’s quest to solve this global crisis and create a sustainable business has garnered industry-wide recognition. Last night’s Presidential award comes on the heels of the 2015 PLATTS Global Energy Award for leadership in the biofuels industry and being ranked as the #1 American Company and the #3 Global Company in bioenergy by Biofuels Digest.


Original article located here

For more information about Algenol, please visit




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Ann Lee-Jeffs, Green Chemistry Program Manager at ACS Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) had an engaging interview with Rajiv Banavali,Chief Technology Officer, Fluorine Products at Honeywell about some of the exemplary new climate change-abating chemistries of the 21st century such as Honeywell’s  Solstice® platform of refrigerants, foam blowing agents, solvents and propellants.


Lee-Jeffs: Tell me about your new Solstice®  platform and how your team designed these exciting new products.


Banavali: I appreciate the opportunity to share our proud story about our new Solstice®  products, which were designed to replace existing refrigerant, foam blowing agent, solvent and aerosol technology. First, let me explain why these products were needed.


Climate change is one of the biggest 21st century global challenges.  In the 5th Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in April 2014, the Report warns that unless serious action is taken, the effects of climate change are likely to get worse with growing risks of floods, food shortages, and threats to human health. As the concern over climate change continues to grow globally, a great deal of focus has been placed on the use and emission of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These “greenhouse gases”  have global warming potentials (GWPs) that are sometimes thousands of times higher than CO2. GWP is a measure of the amount of global warming impact per unit weight of the material, relative to the same weight of carbon dioxide (CO2). Thus, HFCs and HCFCs could account for significant total global warming impact. And it is estimated that this contribution c ould further increase if left unchecked.


Concerns over the contributions of HCFCs and HFCs to climate change have prompted many countries to adopt aggressive phasedown or phaseout strategies.


Europe has enacted “F-gas” regulations that are phasing out HFC-134a in automobile air conditioning, and the EU is in the process of finalizing additional restrictions on the use of HFCs. The U.S. has largely phased out HCFCs, and it hopes to add HFCs to the Montreal Protocol with the goal of a significant phasedown of HFCs over the next 20 years. The phase-out of ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol resulted in greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 11 GtCO2-eq/year, or 5 to 6 times the reductions mandated for all greenhouse gases in the reporting period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012). This was facilitated largely by substituting HFCs for CFCs.  HFCs are known contributors to climate change and phasing down their use is a key to mitigating atmospheric CO2 equivalents which are the major contributors to climate change.


Honeywell saw clearly that low-GWP alternatives to HCFC and HFCs were needed to help solve this worldwide problem. As a leader in fluorine chemistry for more than 70 years we saw the need to develop replacement options that meet the world’s future needs for refrigerants, foam blowing agents, solvents and aerosols.  Based on their prior work and proprietary knowledge, researchers at Honeywell created an initial list of more than 1,000 molecules that Honeywell believed could be considered as low-GWP alternatives to  existing HFCs. These researchers began the task of narrowing this lengthy list by assessing various criteria including desirable and required properties such as persistence in the environment, toxicity, flammability, miscibility, stability and others.  In an effort to streamline the list of candidate molecules further, Honeywell researchers also performed intensive testing on what they considered to be promising candidates. Eventually, and contrary to the thinking in the industry at the time, Honeywell researchers decided to focus their further research efforts on fluorinated olefins, particularly partially fluorinated three-carbon molecules – fluorinated propenes. Prior to Honeywell’s work, none of the fluorinated olefins had been considered worthy of investigation by the industry due to their perceived unacceptably high reactivity, instability and/or toxicity. Nevertheless, Honeywell researchers found that this class of molecules offered a potential low GWP solution as well as one that might fit into Honeywell’s existing technology base.  Indeed, Honeywell was the first to develop a commercial solution involving use of any of the fluorinated olefins, for any application.


After all of this work we demonstrated that hydrofluoro-olefins are excellent candidates to replace existing HFCs, while at the same time providing safety benefits over the flammable hydrocarbon blowing agents currently in use, such as cyclopentane. In the IPCC’s AR5 report the 100-year GWP values for Honeywell’s pure HFO products are less than or equal to 1, making them equal to or less than CO2, which is the baseline, and 99.9% lower than the products they replace. These new products are marketed under the trade name Solstice®


These products have short atmospheric lifetimes because of the double-bonded structure that allows them to break down more rapidly in the atmosphere – 26 days as opposed to many years.


Lee-Jeffs: Let’s focus on HFO-1233zd(E), for a moment, which appears to be quite versatile since it can be used as a solvent, a refrigerant and a foam blowing agent.


Banavali: Yes, let me tell you about HFO-1233zd(E), also called Solstice®  Liquid Blowing Agent (LBA), Solstice® Performance Fluid (PF), and Solstice®  zd refrigerant.  It was designed and engineered in Honeywell’s Buffalo, New York, research laboratories.  HFO-1233zd(E) technology is supported by more than 600 issued or pending worldwide patents on unique compositions, uses and methods of manufacture. The molecule has been granted VOC-exempt status by the U.S. EPA and is listed under the EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) and is on the TSCA inventory. In 2013, Honeywell announced that it would invest more than $200 million at its four production facilities in Louisiana and create 500 new direct and indirect jobs. These investments included a new plant to make HFO-1233zd(E), which began production in May 2014, and Honeywell is currently working on a second, world-scale, U.S. plant.


Lee-Jeffs: Can you describe how HFO technology contributes to improving foam blowing agents?


Banavali: Rigid polyurethane foam (PU Foam) insulation, also known as closed-cell spray polyurethane foam (ccSPF), has been the construction industry’s gold standard for high performance thermal insulation for the past 60 years. The main reason for this outstanding performance is the gas that is trapped in the foam’s closed cell structure which accounts for as much as 75% of the foam’s thermal insulation value [Klempner et al; Handbook of Polymeric Foams and Foam Technology, 2004 p. 44]. The same gas is used to expand the foam and is called the blowing agent. Because the blowing agent serves the dual purpose of expanding and providing the insulation value to the foam the choice of blowing agent is critical. In addition to having a combination of desirable properties, including acceptable physical, safety, and other parameters, selection of a blowing agent with low vapor phase thermal conductivity and permanence in the foam’s cells is critical to produce the highest performance foam.


One of the most common applications for PU foam is the insulation of refrigerators and freezers (appliances). In addition, because of its considerable structural strength, PU foams also serve as the main structural component of refrigerator cabinets and doors. The use of PU foam and fluorocarbon blowing agents has been one of the main reasons for the energy efficiency improvements seen in refrigerators over the last 30 years. For example, refrigerators made today typically use about half the energy as new refrigerators did in 1990.


Solstice®  LBA is also used in many other foam insulation applications including insulated building panels, spray foam for walls and roofs, panels for refrigerated trucks, and refrigerated shipping containers.


Lee-Jeffs: What is different about HFO-1233zd(E)? What makes it special?


Banavali: The biggest challenge we encountered when starting our search for low-GWP alternatives was that the products would have to be stable enough not to react or break down in their intended application and at the same time be unstable enough to decompose in the atmosphere quickly, all without the creation of hazardous breakdown products. Honeywell’s researchers had solved difficult technical problems before, and we were ready for the challenge. At our request, detailed investigation was conducted by researchers around the world to determine the potential atmospheric oxidation breakdown products of HFO-1233zd(E), including the products of both chlorine atom and hydroxyl (OH) radical-initiated oxidation, as represented by the following equations:



The presence of the double bond results in rapid reaction with these radicals which is unlike any existing fluorinated product. The major products are HCl, CF3CHO and HCOCl. In the atmosphere HCOCl is anticipated to be incorporated into rain or other forms of moisture and to hydrolyze to form formic acid, a ubiquitous component of the environment. The aldehyde, CF3CHO, will undergo photolysis in the atmosphere resulting in an estimated lifetime of 2 and HF through oxidation and hydrolysis. Because these final breakdown products already occur in nature and at the anticipated levels in the environment the atmospheric oxidation products are not of concern.


Lee-Jeffs: Tell me about the safety and toxicological profile of HFO chemistry.


Banavali: We partnered with leading independent research institutes to conduct extensive tests (more than 10 toxicology studies) over a period of many years to assess HFO-1233zd(E) for potential impact on humans and the environment, and we found it to be safe for its intended uses.


This testing has been vetted and verified by the Occupational Alliance for Risk Science (OARS) Workplace Environmental Exposure Limits [WEEL] Committee, a group of well-recognized experts, which has issued a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 800 ppm versus 300 ppm for HFC-245fa. Additionally, Solstice®  LBA has been approved by U.S. EPA (under the SNAP and PMN programs). It has been E.U. REACH registered for more than 1,000MT (the highest level), and has been registered in Japan, Australia, and a host of other countries.


Lee-Jeffs: Where are you with commercialization of HFO-1233zd(E), and what are your aspirations for the product?


Banavali: As mentioned previously, Honeywell started up a world-scale manufacturing plant in Louisiana in May 2014. Honeywell and its suppliers plan to invest $900 million in the Solstice®  platform in the coming years. Honeywell projects that use of its low-GWP Solstice®  products designed to replace HFCs will eliminate more than 350 million metric tons in CO2 equivalents by 2025, which is equal to removing 70 million cars from the road for one year.


HFO-1233zd(E) is being adopted globally as a foam blowing agent in appliance insulation, spray foam insulation, as a high-performance solvent and as a refrigerant. Let me share some examples.


Whirlpool started manufacturing refrigerators with Solstice® LBA in late 2013 at its Amana, Iowa, factory and has transitioned its entire U.S. product line to Solstice®  LBA. Several Chinese appliance manufacturers, including Haier, Midea and Hisense, are also transitioning to Solstice®  LBA to meet increasing standards in China, the U.S. and Europe. Numerous other global OEMs in the U.S., Europe, Japan, China, Korea, and India are in various stages of development and are expected to transition to Solstice®  LBA in the near future.


Solstice® LBA is also making significant inroads across the globe through the construction industry. Spray foam made with Solstice® LBA is a highly energy efficient solution for construction because of its higher thermal insulation value compared to other solutions and also because it provides a thermal, moisture and air barrier which eliminates the need for other materials. Lapolla, a large foam systems house based in Houston, Texas, adopted Solstice®  LBA for wall spray foam in 2014, and it has been used in several high profile projects with great results.


Closed-cell foam made with Solstice®  LBA   can also be used as high density spray foam roofing. When compared to current HFC-245fa based systems it offers 2-4% higher insulation value(giving about 10% better yields (materials savings)), makes a stronger end product (foam), and has a greater resistance to hail. West Development Group has completed dozens of spray foam roofing projects all over the U.S., including a great example at the Cleveland Airport System where they put down over half a million square feet of roofing over two airports.


Solstice®  LBA is also being used in insulated panel or board applications in Europe. Kingspan, the largest construction board manufacturer in the world, announced recently that it is able to offer more energy efficient and lower climate impact boards using Solstice® LBA.


The solvents, metal precision, and electronics cleaning industries had long depended on ozone-depleting solvents like 141b and 225. The phase-out of these solvents has caused the industry to choose alternatives with less favorable flammability or toxicity profiles. It has been shown that Solstice®  Performance Fluid (PF) is an excellent solvent in those applications. It improves performance by decreasing energy usage and cleaning cycle time.


Shifting gears to refrigerants, centrifugal chillers are capable of achieving the HVAC industry’s highest levels of efficiency. Ninety-five percent of a typical chiller’s GWP is attributable to the CO2 emissions from generating electrical power. Solstice® zd refrigerant has comparable efficiency to R-123 – the current refrigerant used with a GWP of 79. Trane, a leading global provider of centrifugal chillers announced its adoption of Solstice® zd refrigerant in its Series E CenTraVac chillers


Lee-Jeffs: Do you have any concluding remarks?


Banavali:  HFO-1233zd(E) is a great example of a made-in-America chemical innovation that will help the world dramatically reduce its climate impact, improve energy efficiency, improve costs, and create jobs - all in a safe way.  HFO-1233zd(E) is being adopted globally in a wide variety of industries such as appliances, transport, construction, refrigerants, and precision cleaning for electronics.  Leading-edge companies such as Whirlpool, Midea and Trane are transitioning to Honeywell’s unique low-GWP HFO-1233zd(E). Wide-spread use of HFO-1233zd(E)to replace HFCs in these industries in the U.S. alone will result in a reduction of more than 25M tonnes per year of CO2-equivalent; globally this number would exceed 90M tonnes (based on Honeywell’s internal analysis). This new product will not only help reduce global warming, but it will spur economic growth and job creation in the U.S.


We continue to be excited about the positive impact our Solstice®  products can have, not only on the environment but also on the world.






Rajiv Banavali, Chief Technology Officer, Fluorine Products, Honeywell.

Rajiv currently leads the global technology organization for Fluorine Products within the Performance Materials and Technology (PMT) division of Honeywell. Prior to his current Fluorine Products technology executive leadership role, Rajiv led the Specialty Chemical division business unit of Honeywell. Before his tenure at Honeywell, Rajiv spent 22 years with Rohm & Haas as R&D Director.










Ann Lee-Jeffs, Green Chemistry Program Manager, ACS Green Chemistry Institute














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Contributed by Pietro Tundo, Professor of Organic Chemistry, Ca' Foscari University of Venice


Can chemical industry evolve from a producer of CO2 to a consumer of CO2 as a carbon source?


The urgency of anthropogenic climate change deserves more research attention than ever before. How does climate change relate to chemistry? In a wide variety of ways such as, how chemistry can mitigate disasters like storms, draft, and floods.

In these situations chemistry can provide new materials and products. However, this is not where chemistry can be most beneficial. In fact, its involvement at on a molecular level has provided helpful compounds which do not interfere with the natural cycles of nature. A pertinent topic in this regard was the substitution of CFC with CHFC since the latter prevents the formation of holes in the ozone layer.


Chemists should think that they have a long road ahead for their contribution in mitigating climate changes. We only recently started to understand how organic matter is organized in nature. When we come to understand how living systems work chemically we can then create chemical cycles similar or very similar to what already occurs in the environment.  We cannot introduce artificial chemical cycles which may interfere with those already operating in Nature by millions or billions of years.


However, a field of great potential that is still relatively unexplored is the chemistry of CO2. The key questions are: can we pursue an intrinsically safer, cleaner, more elegant and more energy-efficient chemistry utilizing CO2 chemistry? What is the potential contribution of CO2 as carbon feedstock? Presently, chemical industry accounts for high energy consumption and CO2 emissions since it is one of the main producers of CO2. The industry typically consumes 25-30% of the total energy used annually by the entire manufacturing sector.


It is surprising indeed that while the interest in the CO2 chemistry is mainly based on capture and sequestration technologies, limited interest is dedicated to the organic chemistry of its derivatives. If we look at  what happens in the environment we see that inorganic carbonates are very common chemical species everywhere while organic carbonates are practically non-existent. Organic carbonates are intrinsically safe compounds and their chemistry is practically unexplored.


Nevertheless, CO2 and its derivatives can be used as feedstock, reduce the carbon footprint, open novel chemical transformations, gather renewable energy into the material value chain, and facilitate decentralized production. For instance, utilization of CO2 for value-added chemical production would be of important economic benefit. Significantly, CO2-based chemistry is an alternative to chlorine chemistry which continues to play an important role in industry and the economy. The exploitation of the new field of research will lead to safe compounds (polymers, solvents, new compounds, etc.) where the CO2 is chemically entrapped.


The key challenge for this field in moving forward is the application of the vast pool of experience on catalysis gained over the past decades. This application can  begin to encompass a wider variety of bio-based and sustainable carbonate compounds for both the mitigation of climate change through carbon capture and utilization as components in the bio-based chemical industry of the future. This trend will not only modify industry’s role as a CO2 generator but may force its evolution from a producer to a user of CO2 . Is this a realistic prospective? Perhaps or perhaps not, but it should begin to be considered as a need.


To reach its potential, the use of CO2 will require interaction of academia and industry and interdisciplinary solutions between natural and engineering sciences. The transformation of chemical industry from a producer to a consumer of CO2 might be a big challenge for the future.



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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 flow chemistry.  Areas of interest include, but are not limited to photo redox chemistry, photochemistry, and Biocatalysis in flow.


Proposals will be accepted from public and private institutions of higher education worldwide. Up to three grants are planned to be awarded. Each award is limited to $50,000 for a grant period of 12 to 24 months. Proposals are due to the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable on deadline for receipt of proposals is August 28, 2015 at 5 PM EDT.


Click here for more information and to download the RFP (download RFP on the right-hand side of web page).


Proposals not received by the deadline will not be considered. Submissions must be a single pdf. file submitted via email to For additional grant opportunities, please visit our Research Grants & Awards page.




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Contributed by Keith Peterman, Professor of Chemistry, York College of Pennsylvania


Climate change is the defining sustainability issue of our time.  Today’s youth are the first generation to feel the adverse impacts of climate change. And, in the words of UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, “the last generation that can put an end to climate change.”


Prime Minister of Ethiopia.jpgStudents representing the American Chemical Society (ACS) aim to help put an end to climate change by using the power of education and the highest decision making authority on climate change within the UN to engage youth in the climate change discourse.  “Education and climate literacy” is one of four recommended Actions for addressing climate change in the ACS Public Policy Statement.  In support of this Action, the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement sends ACS student representatives each year to the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP)—dubbed by media as “the annual UN climate conference.”


Paul Anastas—widely considered “the Father of Green Chemistry—was asked in a recent interview, “How can green chemistry address climate change?”  He responded, “Alternative energies that are non-fossil based would be the key way that green chemistry is addressing them…the power and potential of green chemistry, green engineering, [and] sustainable design is to get us off our current trajectory and do it in a way that is going to result in just a far better world.”  Anastas spoke of the need to communicate with policy makers and the public, “You need to speak the language of the tribe you are talking to.”  His comments strongly endorse the mission of the ACS student representatives who are leveraging social media to engage their tribe in the climate change discourse.


The ACS student COP climate literacy project was launched in December 2010 as a kickoff for the then-upcoming International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011).  Two students represented ACS at the December 2010 COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico and posted articles under the C&E News Editor’s Blog.


Solar Car.jpgSince then, the project has grown to accommodate students from across the US leveraging the maximum number of UN accreditation slots allotted to ACS.  Students ambassadors have represented ACS at COP 17 (2011 Durban, South Africa), COP 18 (2012 Doha, Qatar), COP 19 (2013 Warsaw, Poland), and most recently the December 2014 COP 20 in Lima, Peru.


Each year, the students have increased their outreach mechanisms.  They’ve developed a Students On Climate Change web page to post and archive articles and photos and expanded their presence in social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc.


In preparation for the COP, students first meet and coalesce as a team at ACS National Headquarters in Washington, DC.  During a two-day session, they receive instruction on media outreach at ACS and travel to Capitol Hill and governmental agencies—Department of Energy and Department of State—for off-the-record informational meetings and technical advice.


Eight students selected to represent ACS at the upcoming December 2015 COP 21 in Paris are currently holding video conferences and communicating via email as they identify each of their individual focuses for Paris.


Students present outcomes of their COP activities at a symposium during the Spring National ACS Meeting. At the 2013 National ACS Meeting in San Francisco, the students held a first-ever live Global Student Summit at a national meeting. As well, they make presentations via Facetime from on-location during each COP with audiences at their home institutions. Many students have written articles for their local newspapers and been interviewed by various media outlets.


Green Chemistry is at the forefront of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. This year’s 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards favored innovative projects that tackle climate change and promote bio-based fuels.     


The ACS student self-written mission statement is to “Provide information and a platform for clear environmental discussion to give people the words and the tools to continue that discussion in their communities.” Climate change is a civilization challenging issue.  You are invited to join the discussion in your effort to put an end to climate change. As a reader of this article who is committed to the Principles of Green Chemistry, you are invited to join the discussion in your effort to put an end to climate change.





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Contributed by Clara Piccirillo, PhD, Decoded Science

Researchers from York University developed a material – Starbon® – which can selectively recover precious metals such as gold, palladium, and platinum.The material is sustainable, being made from a renewable source (starch). Researchers successfully used Starbon® loaded with the recovered metals as a catalyst, hence closing the precious metals loop.


Precious Metals


Precious metals are elements such as gold, relatively rare, with high commercial value. Although we may associate them with jewels or ornaments, precious metals have many other important technological applications. These include catalytic converters in vehicles, catalysts in industrial processes, and electrical components in electronic devices. The use of these metals has increased in recent years due to the development of low carbon technologies. Alternative / renewable energy, for instance, relies heavily on the use of some of these elements.


Critical Metals and Their Recovery


adsorb-absorb-Recovered.pngBecause of this greater use, the supply of some precious metals could be at risk. In a recent report, the European Union (EU) compiled a list of elements classified as “critical.” The EU made this classification considering both the importance for the economy, and the risk for supplies. Examples of critical metals include palladium, platinum, and rare earth elements.


One way to address this issue is the recovery of the metals. This, however, is often difficult as the waste waters where these metals meet up contain many different elements. The recovery process, therefore, has to be based on a highly selective method.


Scientists have carried out a lot of research to develop effective recovery methods. The adsorption of the metals on the surface of an appropriate material is a possible solution. Ideally, the material should adsorb the desired metal even in the presence of other species, with high efficiency. Moreover, the material should be made with a sustainable process, i.e. without using dangerous chemicals and using renewable sources.


New Adsorption Materials: Starbon®


Scientists of the University of York (United Kingdom) made substantial progress in this field, as they developed Starbon®, a new class of material which fulfills many of these criteria.


We spoke to Ms. Andrea Muñoz Garcia, PhD student at the University of York involved in the research. She presented her work at the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, on the 15th of July 2015 in Maryland (US).


“We made our materials by trying to apply as much as possible green chemistry principles. In fact, we used starch as starting material, a renewable source which is readily available. The synthesis involved different steps. First we expand the starch to create the porous structure, we gelatinized it, then we cooled down the gel material, soaked it in ethanol, and finally removed the ethanol. Subsequently, the materials were drying using CO2 at supercritical conditions; to finish, the material was treated at high temperature (800 oC).” The final obtained carbonaceous material – Starbon®– has a very high surface area (631 m2/g) and pores with an average dimension of 18.2 nm.


High Adsorption Efficiency



To test Starbon® performance, Ms. Muñoz Garcia and her coworkers tested the removal of the Platinum Group Metals (PGM), i.e. gold (Au), palladium (Pd), and platinum (Pt).

Ms. Muñoz Garcia explains, “The PGM all have many important technological applications; their recovery, therefore, is something crucial for our future development. We tested Starbon® removal efficiency for these three metals in the presence of other species, to assess the selectivity of the material.


In fact, we used solutions containing Au3+, Pd2+, Pt2+ and, at the same time, nickel (Ni2+), copper (Cu2+), zinc (Zn2+) and iridium (Ir2+).


The results were very satisfactory, as Starbon® removed the PGM with very high efficiency (higher than 99, 90 and 80 % for Au3+, Pd2+, and Pt2+ respectively). At the same time, however, the removal of the other metals was much lower – almost none for Ni2+ and Zn2+, 9 % for Cu2+, and slightly higher for Ir2+ (31 %), which allows separation of the precious metals”


3+, the removal efficiency is at least 30 times higher than for other adsorbing materials of natural origin (i.e. adsorbents made from coconut shells or peach stones).


Using the Material


Ms. Muñoz Garcia and her coworkers performed some preliminary tests to use the metal-loaded Starbon® as catalyst for the Heck reaction. This is a chemical reaction which normally is catalyzed by palladium nanopowders.


“The first tests gave good results, as we saw that the metal-loaded Starbon® was actually working as catalyst. We still have to optimize the performance of the catalyst, as we want to test them also on other reactions, and our future work will be focused on that; this data, however, showed us that the metal-loaded Starbon® has potential. The material is effective not just to recover the metals, but also to be used afterwards as catalyst.


In this way, we “close” the precious metal loop – we recover them from water streams and then we reuse them as catalysts – being supported in the same material employed for the recovery. Preventing waste is one of the green chemistry principles.


The work done by Ms. Munõz Garcia and coworkers in moving in that direction, as their material could be used to recover precious and critical metals and to reuse them as catalysts. Moreover, as Starbon® is made from a renewable source (starch), its synthesis is sustainable; this again goes along with green chemistry principles. Materials like this will help address the possible future shortage of precious metals, and help continue the technological development of our society.


Original article located: Green Chemistry: Recovering Precious Metals From Waste

Written for: Decoded Science




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Contributed by Clara Piccirillo, PhD, Decoded Science


Professor Glenn Lipscomb presented research at the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference July 14-16th on the future challenges of use of membranes for separation processes in industrial application. This is a technology which could lead to substantial energy savings (it requires less energy than thermal methods such as distillation) and make industry more sustainable.


Energy Consumption


energy-pylon-227x300.jpgThe world energy consumption has been increasing steadily in recent years. Such an increase is partly due to the larger world population, but also to the higher technological development of our society. According to some data published by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the amount of consumed energy increased by about 8% between 2008 and 2012. Moreover, some researchers estimate over the next two decades the increase will be even larger.


Energy Savings


Such levels of energy consumption are not sustainable, due to the limited availability of many energy sources, and for the possible impact on the environment. It is therefore essential to develop new technologies which could lead to substantial energy savings. Indeed, one of the 12 principles of green chemistry is about the design for energy efficiency.


Separation Processes – Distillation


Many industrial processes, for the production of different products and goods, employ separation processes. To produce a compound with a high level of purity, for instance, it is necessary to separate it from all other chemicals which are present as impurities. Examples can include production of pharmaceutical compounds or food items.


The most common separation process is distillation, which consumes high amounts of energy. Researchers in fact estimated that distillation accounts for about 53 % of the energy used for all separation processes.


Different Distillation Technology – Membranes


A different way to separate two or more different compounds, that uses much less energy, is by using membranes. Membranes are materials with pores of appropriate sizes that act like filters; a separation can be achieved as some chemical compounds can pass through the pores (permeate or filtrate) while some others do not (retentate).


Membranes technology has evolved remarkably in recent years; Professor Glenn Lipscomb, PhD, from the University of Toledo (US) presented a summary of the latest development in the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Maryland (US), on the 16th of July 2015.


Membranes Success for Waters


rocky-sea-shore-water-300x225.jpgIn his presentation, Dr. Lipscomb gave some examples of the successful use of membranes in industrial processes. Membranes are widely used, for instance, for water desalination; water filtering using appropriate membranes can remove all unwanted minerals from the water, making it drinkable.


According to published data, membranes are used to produce 63.7 % of desalinated water, while thermal methods such as distillation provide only 34.2 % of the water.


It is interesting to note that in the past it was the opposite, as thermal methods were more used than membrane filtration; this change was possible due to the developments of the membrane technology and the corresponding decrease in the costs.


Indeed, science has made substantial progress in the materials used for the membrane manufacture, and in the membrane process design. This increased membrane use led to substantial savings in energy consumption.


Applications to Liquids and Gases


Membranes are used also for the separation of different gaseous compounds. An example at industrial level is nitrogen (N2) production from air. To do this, air is passed through appropriate membranes which separate N2 from the other gases present in air, i.e. oxygen (O2), water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), etc..


Other membrane applications include the separation of different hydrocarbons derived from oil (separation of propene from propane), and the production of pure ethanol (elimination of water residues, for application as biofuel).


Membranes in Science: The Challenges


Decoded Science spoke to Dr. Lipscomb about the future challenges for more widespread membrane use. He told us:

“Membranes demonstrated the ability to reduce the energy consumption and the total costs in desalination and nitrogen production. Similar reductions are possible in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, if we can develop membranes that withstand the aggressive chemical and thermal conditions of these processes”. To do this, research is essential, to find new materials and designs which could be suitable in more robust conditions. Indeed, many researchers are working in this field; this is confirmed by the increasing number of scientific publications.


Scientists are particularly investigating innovative materials, with advanced performance. These include carbon nanotubes, graphene and traditional materials (polymers and ceramics) but with increased porosity.


Technology for More Sustainable Industry


The use of membranes in some industrial processes already showed the potential for substantial energy savings. Widening the applications in which we use membranes presents challenges, which can only be met with more research and investment. The development of this technology is essential for a more sustainable industry.


Original article located here: Green Science: Using Membranes to Filter and Distill

Written for: Decoded Science




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Contributed by Clara Piccirillo, PhD, Decoded Science


Plastic made from plant sugars that you can break down with light and reuse over and over again?

That’s the subject of new research presented at this year’s Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.


Researchers from North Dakota State University have made a new kind of plastic using renewable feedstock (biomass). By introducing an appropriate phototrigger molecule into the polymer, the scientists were able to photodegrade the polymer – once again obtaining the base starting material. In this way, the same feedstock can be used several times, reducing the impact on the environment.


Polymers: Useful but Cause for Concern


Polymers are materials in which a basic unit (monomer) is repeated many times to form a much bigger molecule. All plastics we use in everyday life (i.e. bottles, utensils,auto parts) are examples of polymers, and they are indeed essential materials for our society.

There is however, increasing concern regarding their use for two main reasons:

  • The majority of polymers are almost completely non-degradable; they constitute, therefore, a threat for the environment.
  • Almost all monomers are derived from non-renewable sources, i.e. fossil fuels such as oil.


Use of Renewable Sources


Scientists have been studying alternative polymers with improved degradability and which are made using renewable source-derived materials; the use of biomass, for instance, has been considered one of the most promising routes.


To manufacture polymers from renewable sources, one of the key molecules is 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). FDCA could replace terephtalic acid in the synthesis of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a very common polymer used for example to make plastic bottles. Moreover, a polymer made of FDCA and glycol has performance comparable to PET.


Sustainability – Reusing the Monomers


For the polymer synthesis to be more sustainable, one of the key points is the possibility of reusing the monomer once the polymeric materials are disposed of. In traditional polymers this is very difficult, as it is hard to control the degradation of the polymeric chains and obtain the monomeric unit.


Innovative Approach


UV-light-bulb-238x300.jpgResearchers from North Dakota State University (US) developed a FDCA polymer derived from renewable materials, whose monomers could be reused. They presented their results at the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, on the 14th of July 2015 in Maryland (US).


Decoded Science spoke to professor Jayaraman Sivaguru, PhD, one of the lead scientists in the study and a speaker at the conference. Dr. Sivaguru is also an expert in designing photodegradable polymeric systems from biomass.


“We wanted to make a polymer from renewable sources, but we also wanted to be able to reuse the monomers again. To do this, we thought we could insert into the polymer block an additional molecule which could promote the polymer degradation under irradiation with an appropriate light source (a phototrigger).


In this way, by irradiating the polymer under controlled conditions, the polymer could be “decomposed” back into the monomers and into the phototrigger molecules.This is an innovative approach that nobody has ever tried before.”


The Polymer and Its Degradation


Dr. Sivaguru and his coworkers made their polymer using FDCA from fructose, a sugar molecule found in many plants and fruit. As a phototrigger, they used 2-nitro1,3-benzenedimethanol 6, which was chemically bonded to the FDCA. This is a molecule whose phototrigger behavior is well studied and documented.


To test the controlled degradation, they suspended the polymer in a 4:1 mixture of tetrahydrofurane and water, and irradiated the suspension using a lamp with a light wavelength of 350 nm.


According to Dr. Sivaguru: “At the beginning of the experiment, our suspension was whitish and turbid; after just three hours, it was completely transparent and yellow in color. This was the first sign that a degradation was really taking place. To identify the product, we performed Nuclear Magnetic Spectroscopy (NMR); these tests showed that the product of the photoinduced irradiation actually was FDCA, so we were able to obtain again the monomeric starting material.”


Important Results


environment-300x200.jpg“These first findings are very important as a proof of principle,” Dr. Sivaguru said.


“In fact, we showed that the use of phototriggers could lead to a controlled degradation of the polymers to obtain again the starting material. As the material would be used again, this lessens the impact on the environment. We want to continue this research, applying the same principle to different polymers, and see how we can optimize it. The research is highly collaborative with my colleagues Prof. Dean Webster and Prof. Mukund Sibi; their expertise of all their groups was essential to perform such a transformative study”


More Sustainable Polymers


The work done by Professor Sivaguru and his coworkers showed that it is possible to make polymers following green chemistry principles. The use of renewable feedstock, the minimization of the waste, and the impact on the environment are all elements which should be considered for future sustainable polymer manufacturing.


Original article located here: Programmable, Reusable Plastics Made From Fructose?

Written for: Decoded Science




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Innovative technologies tackle climate change, water, and chemical issues


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn climate risk and other environmental problems into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.


“From academia to business, we congratulate those who bring innovative solutions that will help solve some of the most critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce the use of energy, hazardous chemicals and water, while cutting manufacturing costs and sparking investments. In some cases they turn pollution into useful products. Ultimately, these manufacturing processes and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. We will continue to work with the 2015 winners as their technologies are adopted in the marketplace.”


The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The winners and their innovative technologies are:



Algenol in Fort Myers, Florida, is being recognized for developing a blue-green algae to produce ethanol and other fuels. The algae uses CO2 from air or industrial emitters with sunlight and saltwater to create fuel while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint, costs and water usage, with no reliance on food crops as feedstocks. This is a win-win for the company, the public, and the environment. It has the potential to revolutionize this industry and reduce the carbon footprint of fuel production.




Hybrid Coating.JPG

Hybrid Coating Technologies/Nanotech Industries of Daly City, California, is being recognized for developing a safer, plant-based polyurethane for use on floors, furniture and in foam insulation. The technology eliminates the use of isocyanates, which contribute to workplace asthma. This is already in production, is reducing VOC’s and costs, and is safer for people and the environment.




LanzaTech in Skokie, Illinois, is being recognized for the development of a process that uses waste gas to produce fuels and chemicals, reducing companies’ carbon footprint. LanzaTech has partnered with Global Fortune 500 Companies and others to use this technology, including facilities that can each produce 100,000 gallons per year of ethanol, and a number of chemical ingredients for the manufacture of plastics. This technology is already a proven winner and has enormous potential for American industry.




SOLTEX (Synthetic Oils and Lubricants of Texas) in Houston, Texas, is being recognized for developing a new chemical reaction process that eliminates the use of water and reduces hazardous chemicals in the production of additives for lubricants and gasoline. If widely used, this technology has the potential to eliminate millions of gallons of wastewater per year and reduce the use of a hazardous chemical by 50 percent.





Renmatix in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is being recognized for developing a process using supercritical water to more cost effectively break down plant material into sugars used as building blocks for renewable chemicals and fuels. This innovative low-cost process could result in a sizeable increase in the production of plant-based chemicals and fuels, and reduce the dependence on petroleum fuels.




Acidemic Award.JPG

Professor Eugene Chen of Colorado State University is being recognized for developing a process that uses plant-based materials in the production of renewable chemicals and liquid fuels. This new technology is waste-free and metal-free. It offers significant potential for the production of renewable chemicals, fuels, and bioplastics that can be used in a wide range of safer industrial and consumer products.


During the 20 years of the program, EPA has received more than 1500 nominations and presented awards to 104 technologies. Winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.


An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2015 submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2015 winners. The 2015 awards event will be held in conjunction with the 2015 Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.


Article from the U.S. EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics

Photo credit: Savannah Sullivan, Research Associate, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


Also see 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards | July 20, 2015 Issue - Vol. 93 Issue 29 | Chemical & Engineering New… by Stephen Ritter, C&EN.




“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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