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Chemists Use Biocompatible Method to Synthesize Titania

January 29, 2016 | MEHR News Academy

Iranian and Iraqi researchers studied the possibility of the application of herbal extracts to synthesize titanium dioxide nanoparticles, INIC reports.


Will Green/Sustainable Chemistry Provisions Survive Final TSCA Reform?

January 28, 2016 | JD Supra Business Adviser

There is still no definitive answer as to whether the green/sustainable chemistry provisions in S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, will survive the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives conference committee process as lawmakers confer and prepare the final compromise legislation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform bill.


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Military Success, Rare Metals and the Periodic Table

January 28, 2016 | Investor Intel

How the Military came to Love Rare Earth and Other Technology Metals.


Marketers: Stop Selling 'Green,' Start Selling Products That Match Our Values

January 28, 2016 | Sustainable Brands

Sustainable Brands recently referenced a study from Ohio State University that shows that “not only do many consumers not want to put much effort toward finding out whether our purchases were produced ethically (which is not exactly news), they have a way of looking down on those who do.”


Biomaterials firm Metabolix to Move HQ to Woburn from Cambridge

January 27, 2016 | Boston Business Journal

A Cambridge company that develops biomaterials as environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastics is moving its headquarters to Woburn this year, and plans to close a Lowell site next year.


Harvesting Hydrogen from Tough Biomass

January 26, 2016 | Chemistry World

US-based scientists have come up with a sustainable way to harvest hydrogen fuel from biomass. Their new electrolytic approach can even release hydrogen from obstinate molecules like lignin and cellulose.


New Bioplastic Mashup Spells Doom for Petrochemical Industry

January 25, 2016 | Clean Technica

Two global industry giants, DuPont and Archer Daniels Midland, have just announced a new “breakthrough” process for producing a high performance, 100% biodegradable bioplastic building block.


All for Less Carbon

January 22, 2016 | Nature Matters

The development and implementation of low-carbon and carbon-free technologies will be essential to limit the global temperature rise well below 2 °C from pre-industrial levels.




“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.

Green Chemistry Hindered by Lack of Toxicology Training

January 21, 2016 | Chemistry World

Pioneers in green chemistry are warning that the development of new environmentally friendly, non-toxic chemicals is being hampered by a lack of training in toxicology and environmental mechanisms in US chemistry degree courses.



Trending: Bio-Based Materials Breakthroughs Thanks to Seashells, Fructose

January 20, 2016 | Sustainable Brands

Seashells are being researched for their impressive mechanical properties.


Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Go Green

January 20, 2016 | PharmTech

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly making public commitments to sustainability goals and investing in "green" chemistry and the equipment and manufacturing practices needed to meet these goals.


Snow Soaks Up Toxic Pollutants in the Air, Study Shows

January 19, 2016 | Huffpost Green

You probably don't want your kids eating snow if you live in an urban area.


A Gold-Based Compound Will Help Clean Toxic Metals Released by China's Vast Polyvinyl Chloride Industry

January 15, 2016 | Scientific American

A gold-based catalyst over 30 years in the making is set to help fight the harm China’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic industry is causing the country’s environment.


Building Material Recycling – A Great Gain for the Environment

January 15, 2016 | PhysOrg

Constructivate's aim is to increase the recycling of Sweden's second largest source of waste, building and demolition materials. Recycled concrete can become a great gain for the environment.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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

In 1973, the first call from a mobile phone was made on a device that had a twenty minute battery life. Today, you can search the internet (do people even make calls anymore?) for almost 15 hours straight on some phones without running out of juice. In this race for higher capacity, longer lasting batteries the sustainability and safety of the materials hasn’t always been the focus. As the pressure to create and use sustainable materials increases, academic researchers and companies alike are investing more in greener energy storage technologies.


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With the July reveal of improvements to the Tesla Model S, better batteries have been all the rage. But even Tesla’s batteries aren’t perfect; the car battery is still the size of a mattress and requires a variety of metals. According to the National Academy of Engineering, these blends limit the risk of thermal runaway reactions, but may cut the battery lifespan short.


Although lithium ion batteries are commonly used, their challenges include the risk of explosion during transportation or use - as in the case of a popular gift last year - and the manufacturing poses health concerns for workers. Additionally, because of the potential for explosion, lithium ion battery production is expensive. This limits the viability for their incorporation into electric cars and other large devices. The environmental cost of mining these materials also leaves something to be desired.


Here’s where green chemistry comes in. These challenges only reveal the plethora of opportunities for innovation. Chemists the world over have been diligently working to develop solutions for better energy storage. In the last year there have been publications ranging from batteries that can be folded like origami to graphene-based supercapacitors.


The most common approach to new, more sustainable battery development has been fairly straightforward: replace lithium with a similar, but less hazardous material like sodium. The dual benefits of sodium are its greater abundance and lower risk of explosion when compared to lithium for battery use. In the world of start-ups, developing new batteries is a promising field for those seeking investment. U.K.-based Faradion’s sodium ion battery technology is just one example of entrepreneurship that has caught the attention of the press and researchers alike.


lithium ion battery.JPG


Of course, sodium and lithium have differences, so scientists at the University of Texas, Austin are working on an eldfellite cathode to allow for more efficient diffusion of sodium ions. Although it requires tweaking our current battery model, the appeal of making sodium work for batteries is high; it is hugely abundant and inexpensive to process.  Sodium has also been used in new flow batteries with aqueous electrolytes, like those with nearly 100% efficiency being developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Other metals being explored as alternatives to lithium include aluminum, iron and calcium.


Teams funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) take a wide range of innovative approaches to advance high-impact energy technologies. The agency will provide up to $400 million in funding for energy technologies in 2016. Promising start-ups receiving funding from ARPA-E include a small business called 24-M that is working to combine lithium ion with nanotechnology. They hope to significantly reduce cost while eliminating the need for organic solvents and improving recyclability. As new batteries are developed, such a degree of focus on design is key to ensuring safety and sustainability.


At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a collaboration between NASA and the California Institute of Technology, big things are happening in metal hydride/air technology. In addition to using fewer non-renewable metals, reducing our dependence on petroleum products is an important driver for many research groups. To promote adoption of electric vehicles, an ARPA-E supported project in progress at the JPL seeks to develop a new aqueous, low cost battery. A different motivation for similar technology - wearable electronics like this flexible zinc-air battery that uses a non-precious metal catalyst - are creating another push for better battery development.


Other research groups are moving away from traditional battery models altogether. A paper to be published in Green Chemistry, “Biomass-derived binderless fibrous carbon electrodes for ultrafast energy storage” hints a very different future for batteries. Perhaps instead of metal-dependent batteries, the key to sustainable energy storage is in renewable, biobased materials. This route could address many of the challenges associated with traditional batteries, like eliminating the need for and environmental impact of mining associated with battery materials.


With ever-increasing demand for longer lasting, less expensive batteries it’s impossible to say which energy storage technology will take the lead. While it may be one of these ideas currently in development, with green chemistry-inspired innovation batteries in the future could make our lithium ion-powered cell phones seem as ridiculous as the shoebox-sized phones of the 1970’s seem now.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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

Contributed by Stefan Pastine, Co-founder & CTO, Connora Technologies


Waste poses significant environmental and societal challenges all over the world. While some of the waste generated each year can be recycled or repurposed into new products, some materials are not currently recyclable. Consider plastics, which comprise 12% of waste generation in the U.S.  The perception of plastic by the typical citizen is most likely that of thermoplastics, which is encountered in everyday life in the form out packaging, bottles, and casing materials, toys, etc. Little waste is created in the manufacturing of such consumer products because most common thermoplastics are recyclable, so for economic reasons, any manufacturing waste will be fed back into production.  It is rather unfortunate that so many of these products, post-consumer, find their way into the environment.



There is a second category of high performance structural plastic called thermosetting plastics (or thermosets). While thermoplastics can be melted down from a solid and reshaped (thus recycled), thermosets are defined by an irreversible setting process.  They are composed from two different liquid materials, a resin and a curing agent, which harden when mixed and heated. Once “set”, thermoset materials, and products derived therefrom, cannot be melted and recycled as thermoplastics can. They can only be removed from the environment via incineration.  The ordinary consumer is likely unaware about the fact that there still remains a non-recyclable class of plastic. This is understandable considering that, historically, thermosets have mainly been used for adhesive and coating applications. This is changing. Thermosets, such as epoxy, are now commonly used as the plastic matrix in performance composites, also known as fiber reinforced plastics (FRPs). Composites have the lightweight advantages of a plastic and the extra strength generated from the fiber reinforcement.  As the cost of carbon fiber has dropped substantially, the prevalence of composites has increased dramatically. This is driven primarily by the push for implementation of lighter-weight alternatives to traditional structural materials such as steel and aluminum. Composites are now found in many familiar engineering applications, including automotive and aviation parts, wind turbine blades, structural supports in buildings, and high performance sporting equipment.


Thermoset composites are not recyclable because thermoset plastics were never designed to be recyclable in the first place. As the composite market continues to grow, the use of non-recyclable thermosets places the industry in a juxtaposition. On one hand, carbon composites are essential for meeting energy efficiency goals and CAFE standards in the transportation industry, and on the other hand the materials required to make these products are not recyclable. While attention could clearly be focused on the fact that end-of-life products are not recyclable, the waste generated by composite OEMs is increasingly becoming both an environmental and economic burden.


The problem is perhaps best illustrated by Boeing’s newest commercial jet model, the 787 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner represents a major transition in how Boeing constructs airplanes. Jet bodies have historically been constructed from metal, but the 787 is composed of 50% composite materials by weight, including a one-piece composite fuselage. The use of composites gives the Dreamliner revolutionary fuel efficiency, a key milestone toward reduction of in CO2 emission. At the same time, Boeing’s manufacturing activities now produce large quantities of composite waste, estimated to be in the millions of lbs.  Throughout the entire industry, between 10-30% of composite input raw materials in (i.e. thermoset + fiber) typically gets wasted during composite manufacturing. Unlike thermoplastic, thermoset plastic waste can not be re-integrated back into production. The lost economic value from the landfilling of thermoset composite waste is now in the hundreds of millions.  If just one car company switched from metals to composites, this number would be in the billions. One way or another, the lost material value and the disposal fees get passed on to the consumer and the wasted resources get passed on to the environment.


Connora Technologies (Hayward, CA) is an advanced materials startup solving the thermoset recycling problem for the industry by reengineering thermoset plastics using smart chemistry. Connora is in the process of commercializing a series of high performance epoxy curing agents, called Recyclamines®, enabling the manufacture of inherently recyclable thermoset composites. Recyclamine® is a drop-in replacement for standard thermoset composite manufacturing processes. This will enable OEMs to meet shifting regulatory end-of-life compliance, while also moving them toward “zero-landfill” operations via the recycle of manufacturing waste. Total composite recycling is achieved using a specific chemical recycling process, whereby the fibers and thermoset can be separated, recovered, and reused. Key to Connora’s technology is the transformation of the thermoset into its thermoplastic counterpart. The recycled fibers maintain virgin quality and the reclaimed thermoplastic has unique performance characteristics, with mechanical properties similar to nylon and adhesive properties that parallel epoxy thermosets.


Connora has been engaged in development projects with leading brands and OEMs to prove that for the first time, the cradle-to-cradle life cycle is possible for thermoset products. For example, Recyclamine Technology enables complex products like skis and snowboards to be recyclable. All of the individual components used in product manufacturing can be recovered end-of-life through the thermoset recycling process (Figure 2).  Importantly, all of the thermoset plastic wasted in the manufacturing process (commonly referred to as “flashing” in the ski & snowboard industry)  can be recycled into an injection molding grade thermoplastic and used to make another plastic product such as a ski binding (Figure 2).


The wide-scale adoption of composites for automotive applications will be contingent on effective cost-reduction strategies. The advent of High Pressure Resin Transfer Molding [HP-RTM] has helped move the thermoset composite industry towards this goal, enabling cycle times of minutes. This advanced processing technology has been integral to the development of BMW’s I-Series, which is the first serial production carbon-fiber car. However, the cost of composites remains artificially high due to the fact that thermosets are not recyclable.  Figure 3 shows fully recyclable carbon fiber panels made using HP-RTM made with Recyclamine® Technology. The carbon fiber lay-up remains fully intact and can be reused again to make another composite panels. Such efficient recycling and reintegration of composite waste can further reduce the cost of composites by 2.5-7.5%, depending on the amount of manufacturing waste generated.


While research and development on new molecules has all but stopped in large chemical companies, Connora Technologies was founded on the premise that smart molecules are key for the development of materials with fundamentally new performance.  As Recyclamine Technology begins to take foot in the composite industry, Connora will look to transpose the same concept that drives thermoset recycling into other industries: Reverse, Remove, Release….Re-imagine.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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

Contributed by Dr. Keying Ding and Dr. Gary White, faculty advisors and Club President Tim Chitpanya, Middle Tennessee State University


Our chapter’s interest in green chemistry began in the fall of 2006 with a seminar at a club meeting.  In his presentation “Green Chemistry: Bringing the Real World into the Chemistry Labs” Dr. Gautam Bhattacharyya from Clemson University introduced us to the principles of green chemistry. After the seminar he led a workshop where we learned about the activities in which we could participate that would give us Green Chemistry Chapter status. Since that time our green student chapter activities have included green chemistry demonstrations, educating the public using different forms of media and inviting outside speakers to give seminars.


The source for one of our chemical demonstrations "The Greening of the Blue Bottle" appeared in an article in the Journal of Chemical Education.  We brought this demonstration to a local middle school to illustrate how waste could be minimized in a chemical demonstration.


At the 2011 annual homecoming parade the club assembled a golf cart float with a green chemistry theme. Club members on the float distributed flyers which described the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.


At a club meeting in March 2015, Dr. Keying Ding, one of our faculty advisors presented a green chemistry demonstration that used super critical CO2 to extract D-Limonene from citrus fruits. By creating a pressurized environment, the D-Limonene was separated from the rest of the fruit and collected into the bottom of the test tube. Students learned that this same method can be used as a more environmentally friendly solvent for dry cleaning as compared to more traditional solvents such as hydrocarbons.


On Earth Day 2015, a green chemistry poster was set up in the main atrium of our new Science Building. It included information on bio-renewable and bio-degradable polymers that can be used in everyday items. The students also presented some bio-renewable plastic ware made from polylactic acid (PLA). Members talked to those who were interested and aimed to spread awareness about these new products. By spreading awareness of these biodegradable products, people become more aware of the impact they have when they dispose of items that do not decompose.



This year the Chemistry club invited Dr. Chris Jones from Georgia Tech as the 19th Annual Golden Goggles guest speaker. The “Golden Goggles” lecture has become one of our club’s signature events. Well-known speakers, usually from higher education, share timely topics; past speakers have discussed therapeutic cloning, herbal remedies and green chemistry. We invited Dr. Jones to share his great knowledge on green chemistry and technology development for CO2 (carbon dioxide) separation and conversion. This event was open to the local ACS section and community.


There are several faculty members at MTSU chemistry department being actively involved in green chemistry research. Such involvement indeed broadens up their research and funding opportunities. For example, Dr. Ding’s group is working on development of earth abundant metal catalysts for green organic transformations. As a chemistry club co-advisor, she has been encouraging students to participate in green chemistry outreach and research activities. She’s been successful on getting several internal sustainable campus fee funds and a NSF grant which supports her green chemistry activities. One chemistry club student (Xyan Aguilar) is working in Ding’s group on one of these projects.


We strongly agree that student chapter’s activities can encourage the incorporation of green chemistry into the curriculum. Dr. Ding is planning to open a new green chemistry course in the near future to undergraduate students. We will not only teach green chemistry principles, but also encourage students to participate in outreach and research activities.




“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 h

Green Nano: Positive environmental effects through the use of nanotechnology

January 15, 2016 | Nano Werk

The green nano design principles developed by the German NanoCommission constitute an attempt to establish consensus-based guidelines for environmentally friendly and sustainable production.

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Young Researcher Wins Prestigious Grant for Safe Chemical Research

January 13, 2016 | The GW Hatchet

Adelina Voutchkova-Kostal, an assistant professor of chemistry, is the recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER grant.


Making Pharma Manufacturing More Sustainable

January 13, 2016 | PharmTech

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly making public commitments to sustainability goals and investing in the "green" chemistry, equipment, and manufacturing practices needed to meet these goals.


Cradle to Cradle Design Challenge Winners Provide Practical Everyday Solutions

January 13, 2016 | Sustainable Brands

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk, the hosts of the competition, awarded a $2000 cash prize to the winners in the four categories: Best Student Project, Best Professional Project, Best Use of the Autodesk Fusion 360 Tool, and Best Use of Aluminum.


American Chemical Society Releases 2016 Advocacy Agenda

January 13, 2016 | ACS Office of Public Affairs

Among these critical measures that ACS expects will pass this session of Congress is The Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act.


A Rechargeable Calcium-Ion Battery

January 12, 2016 | C&EN

Materials: Will calcium knock lithium off its perch?


Learning Through a Portfolio of Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Projects

January 11, 2016 |

Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology is considered by many to be an essential route to meet climate mitigation targets in the power and industrial sectors.


These Companies are Figuring out How to Reduce the Toxics in Electronics

January 11, 2016 | Ensia

As global consumption of cellphones and other devices soars, industry searches for ways to decrease the threat of chemical components to people and the environment.


E Pluribus, Unum: LanzaTech, Global Bioenergies demonstrate the Biotechnology App Store

January 10, 2016 | Biofuels Digest

As Global Bioenergies, LanzaTech tighten isobutene partnership, the era of “swap-in, swap out” biorefining microbes comes clearer, closer.


What You Need to Know About Microbeads, the Banned Bath Product Ingredients

January 9. 2016 | Forbes

President Obama has signed into law the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which bans microbeads, a common ingredient in personal care products.


Method's Saskia van Gendt on Honing Operations

January 8, 2016 | GreenBiz

Method is setting the standard for clean manufacturing. On Oct. 2, Bard MBA in Sustainability spoke with Saskia van Gendt, greenskeeping manager for Method Home




“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.

A call to action for innovation in CO2 conversion and ocean discovery


Contributed by Paul Bunje & Marcius Extavour, XPRIZE


The Paris climate agreement is a North Star pointing scientists and engineers towards the technological breakthroughs needed to usher in a more sustainable era. The opportunity to develop green chemistry solutions and apply them to real problems at scale has never been greater.


We at XPRIZE are seeking to help spur these new technologies by launching incentive prize competitions that invite innovators from around the world to tackle some of humanity’s greatest challenges. We recently launched two new prizes that seek to address two of the most pressing: climate change and understanding the world’s oceans. Critically, we are seeking bright innovators from chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering, and beyond to come and showcase radical new solutions that can help solve these Grand Challenges.


In September 2015, XPRIZE launched the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. The Carbon XPRIZE is a US$20 million global competition to incentivize breakthroughs in the conversion of CO2 into useful and valuable products.


The concept of CO2 conversion is not new. CO2 has been used to produce methanol and urea since World War II. Current production of these two chemicals alone from CO2 conversion consumes 120 Mt of CO2 annually [Aresta 2013]. Estimates for the total amount of CO2 which could be converted using today’s technologies and products has been conservatively estimated at 300 Mt, with accompanying avoided emissions of roughly 1 Gt/yr [Aresta 2013]. This represents around 5% of total global CO2 emissions, which are 36 Gt/yr and rising [IEA 2014].


CO2 conversion alone may not solve the CO2 problem, but it is a promising, underutilized tool poised for growth and an important bridge to a low-carbon economy. New breakthroughs in CO2 conversion chemistries could increase this potential dramatically. The chance to demonstrate one breakthrough could show that myriad other technologies built on green chemistry are also poised for increased investment and deployment.


Why are we confident about an impending suite of technological breakthroughs? Well, the conventional wisdom has been that CO2 conversion is too expensive and energy intensive to thrive in markets dominated by fossil hydrocarbon feedstocks. But an emerging set of technologies and policies alongside a new business climate may shift the energetics and cost curves to the point where CO2 conversion could be poised for a radical leap forward.


This is happening in several specific ways:


  • New CO2 capture and conversion chemistries are increasing overall process efficiencies through new catalysts, materials, and process designs. [Lim 2015, Scott 2015]
  • Deployment of low-carbon electricity generation is accelerating, especially renewables. CO2 conversion processes powered by low-carbon electricity could achieve net CO2 emissions reductions. [Ren21 2015, Aresta 2013]
  • Growing government and business investment in de-carbonization and the prospect of carbon pricing is creating new market opportunities for low-carbon technologies, including CO2 conversion. [Armstrong 2015, IEA 2014]


In the Carbon XPRIZE, the winning team will convert the most CO2 into products with the highest net value. Rewarding high value products will encourage teams, investors, policy makers, and the public to reimagine the business opportunity of CO2 conversion. A sustainable business based on CO2 conversion could leverage business innovation to tackle the CO2 problem and spur broader investment in green chemistry.


Just this December, XPRIZE launched another prize with big ambitions. The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is a $7 million competition challenging teams from around the world to build advanced deep-sea underwater robots that will provide safe access to the tough environment 4 km below the surface at the ocean floor, paving the way for autonomous, fast, and high-resolution ocean exploration. The success of this prize will result in technologies with which we can fully explore and map the ocean floor, uncovering our planet’s greatest wonder and allowing us to sustain and protect our deep-sea resources. We are also asking teams to advance our ability to see what is down there by producing high-resolution images of biological, geological, and archeological features.


Embedded in this competition is a $1 million bonus prize from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for technologies that can detect underwater chemical or biological signals and trace them to their source. Here again is an amazing opportunity to unlock the science and technology of green chemistry in the deep ocean. Much of the challenge of deep-sea exploration hinges on the difficulty of navigating and communicating in a dark and extreme environment. Novel materials will be critical to both vehicle function at great depth and—perhaps more impressively—enabling breakthroughs in sensing and autonomous “sniffing” of the source of particular chemical signatures.


Significant advances have been made in underwater vehicle technology and autonomous navigation. However, the speed and duration of these vehicles is severely limited due to constraints on power consumption and the materials used. Application of advanced materials from adjacent fields opens new possibilities for improving the performance and sensing capabilities of deep-sea exploration. Deploying materials that enable environmentally safe exploration is critical because ocean ecosystems are so sensitive and vital. And as a criterion for this prize, green chemistry has a huge role to play in driving breakthroughs in underwater exploration and discovery.


Perhaps the most exciting part of both the Carbon XPRIZE and Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is the unknown science, technology, innovation that could be unleashed. What new CO2 conversion chemistries might emerge? What new species might be uncovered in the depths of the unexplored oceans? What new horizons for green chemistry applications will emerge?


Dr. Paul Bunje is Principal and Senior Scientist at XPRIZE Foundation, where he leads Energy & Environment prizes. Bunje is a global thought leader in bringing innovation to solve environmental grand challenges. This work includes leading the US $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE and XPRIZE’s Ocean Initiative.


Dr. Marcius Extavour is Director of Technical Operations for the US $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE with XPRIZE Foundation’s Energy & Environment group.




M. Aresta, A. Dibenedetto, and A. Angelini.  The changing paradigm in CO2 utilization. J. CO2 Utilization 3–4, 65 (2013).


IEA Energy Technology Perspectives. (2014). Harnessing Electricity’s Potential. Paris: IEA Publications. ISBN 978-92-64-20800-1, OECD/IEA.


X. Lim, How to Make the Most of Carbon Dioxide, Nature 526, 628 (2015).


A. Scott, Learning to Love CO2, Chemical & Engineering News 93-45, 10 (2015). b9b70ee6edf54c5c3b584


Ren21’s Renewables Global Status Report (2015)


K. Armstrong and P. Styring, Assessing the potential for utilization and storage strategies for post-combustion CO2 emissions reduction, Frontiers in Energy Research 3, 1 (2015).




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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

Contributed by Freya Burton, Director of Communications, LanzaTech


Today there is an abundance of carbon in all the wrong places. We currently recycle metals, plastics and paper. So why not recycle carbon?


Emerging technologies and continued innovation hold the promise of real solutions which enable a reduction in our utilization of “new carbon” while we continue to meet growing global energy demand.  Imagine a world where waste carbon is captured and recycled into new products, such as plastics for building materials, toys, synthetic fibers; carbon may even replace the oil-derived nylon in yoga pants! Imagine you can choose the products you use in your daily life based on where the carbon in them has come from. Would you choose material recently taken from the ground (“new carbon”)? Or a “carbon smart” product made from recycled carbon?  Our current carbon dilemma is a global opportunity; carbon recycling will change our world.


LanzaTech’s innovative green chemistry pathway is challenging how the world thinks about waste carbon—it is treated as an opportunity instead of a liability. The gas-to-liquid platform uses proprietary microbes to ferment carbon-rich waste gases, such as those from industrial flue stacks, producing liquid fuels such as ethanol and chemicals such as 2,3 butanediol as they grow. This process can be likened to brewing, but instead of sugars and yeast we use waste gases and microbes. Instead of beer, we produce ethanol and chemicals. This is not a lab curiosity. The technology has been demonstrated capturing and recycling steel mill off-gases at scale in China with Shougang Corporation and in Taiwan with China Steel.  The first commercial units are under construction in Belgium with the world’s largest steel maker, ArcelorMittal.

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The LanzaTech microbe is a naturally-occurring organism in the family of acetogens, or gas-fermenting organisms. The microbes are hypothesized to be one of the oldest on earth, using gases from hydrothermal vents to grow.  LanzaTech’s founder, Sean Simpson, made a link between the gases from hydrothermal vents to those produced from industries today. Biomimicry has led to the development of microbes that are tolerant to high levels of toxicity; avoiding expensive conditioning, an economic factor historically stalling gas fermentation technologies.


The design and control of biological conversion processes offer different and distinct advantages for the chemical industry. Biology is capable of catalysis with high specificity and for the production of highly oxygenated products – we should expect to be able to produce and procure molecules that we’ve never had access to before. Then we can ask the question, not what molecules are available, but what is the best molecule or combination for a particular application? Secondly, biological conversion processes operate at a narrow range of temperatures and pressures. This means one process could be swapped out for another, using the exact same hardware, when the markets and prices change. A simple example of this is that a facility that produces ethanol could exchange the biological catalyst to one that produces isopropanol, and it could use the same conversion and separation equipment. Decisions around an asset no longer need to project the 20-year price of a particular molecule. When fully realized, and when combined with the revolution in information, this will serve to stabilize commodity markets and improve their efficiency.


Waste gas is a highly attractive resource for fuel and chemicals production due to its low value and high annual volumetric production. LanzaTech is focused on reusing gas streams rich in carbon monoxide (CO) that are common by-products of established manufacturing processes. Often these gases cannot be utilized efficiently and are therefore wasted. The conversion of CO rich gases through synthetic chemical pathways, for example Fischer-Tropsch or methanol synthesis, requires that H2 be available in the synthesis gas. This is not always the case in waste industrial gases. To overcome this challenge, LanzaTech’s microbes have a highly efficient biological water-gas shift reaction, compensating for any deficit of H2 in the input gas stream by catalyzing the release of H2 from water using the energy in CO.


LanzaTech_BaoSteel Demo Plant-Shanghai.jpg

In addition, current chemical production methods involve commodity raw materials (sugars, petroleum, natural gas) whose value can change dramatically over short periods of time. A gas stream cannot be easily traded and therefore the utilization of a gas stream as a feedstock will result in decoupling the production of commodity chemicals from commodity feedstocks. This means the fluctuations in the cost of raw materials and therefore chemical intermediates will be dampened substantially by introducing chemicals produced from waste gas streams. This will have a game-changing impact on the chemical industry and it's supply chain - a trillion dollar industry shifting the way it thinks about commodity sourcing and supply.  Innovation in green chemistry holds the key to our energy future and offers significant solutions to a growing number of societal, environmental and economic challenges. New sustainable technologies are already today changing how we look at energy and food production, chemical manufacture and resource efficiency.


"Consider the cherry tree," Michael Braungart and William McDonough wrote in "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things". "A cherry tree produces thousands of blossoms which create fruit for birds, humans and other animals in an effort to grow one tree. The blossoms and fruit that fall to the ground aren’t waste, they are food for other systems and processes that nourish the tree and soil. It’s a question of design and eco-effectiveness, a question we should be addressing in our approach to life and manufacturing."


Carbon recycling does just that. Waste should not be allowed to exist. We have the tools and the innovations at our disposal to be resource efficient and to capture, reuse or recycle waste streams, much like a cherry tree will use the nutrients from its fallen leaves and blossoms as a resource for further growth. We envisage a carbon smart future where a steel mill would be able to produce the steel to make a car and then use the wastes from that process to make the fuel. But why stop there? The chemical derivatives would be used to produce the interior plastic moldings, the seating foam, the structural adhesives, the exterior coatings and paints and the synthetic rubber for that same car!


That is only a glimpse at a carbonsmart future. Innovations in green chemistry will allow us to realize this vision.




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BioAmber, Reverdia sign a non-assert agreement

January 8, 2016 | Biomass Magazine

Reverdia has signed a non-assert agreement concerning its Biosuccinium technology with BioAmber Inc.


World's First Facility for Producing Bioplastic from Biodiesel Co-product to be Realized in Italy

January 8, 2016 | Plastemart

An agreement signed today by Bio-on and S.E.C.I. S.p.A. part of Gruppo Industriale Maccaferri holding will see Italy's and world's first facility for the production of PHAs bioplastic from biodiesel production co-products, namely glycerol.


Chemical Cascades in Water for the Synthesis of Functionalized Aromatics from Furfurals

January 7, 2016 | Green Chemistry

One-pot synthetic routes from furfurals to polysubstituted aromatic compounds have been developed in water, without the need for any organic solvents.


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Eugene and San Francisco Firms Reach Deal to Sell Less-toxic Polyurethane

January 7, 2016 | The Register-Guard

Industrial Finishes & Systems of Eugene has become the exclusive distributor of a new, environmentally friendly polyurethane.


DOE to Issue FOAs on Algae Biomass, Bioproducts

January 6, 2016 | Biomass Magazine

In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced plans to issue funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) to support the development of biobased hydrocarbon fuels and algae biomass.


Scientists Develop Hydrogen 'Nano Reactor' by Hiding Bacteria Genes Inside a Virus Shell

January 5, 2016 | Science Alert

Researchers in the US have developed a virus-like biomaterial that catalyzes the formation of hydrogen inexpensively and cleanly, which could lead to new environmentally friendly ways of producing biofuel.


Green Chemistry Campus Tenants Move Forward with Bio-Aromatics Research

January 5, 2016 | Green Chemistry

Campus Biorizon partner Green Chemistry Campus, together with partners Chemelot Institute for Science & Technology (InSciTe) and Brightlands Chemelot Campus was granted a European and provincial contribution to organize, coordinate and scale up the research in the field of bio-aromatics in Southern Netherlands. Campus tenants Biorizon, Progression Industry and Nettenergy are involved in this project.


ACS Award for Affordable Green Chemistry

January 4, 2016 | C&EN

For chemistry and engineering advances that enable commercial application of safe and scalable aerobic oxidation reactions in the development and manufacture of pharmaceuticals.


Can Bio-Based Chemicals Improve Products’ Performance and Sustainability?

January 4, 2016 | Environmental Leader

Driven largely by increasing environmental concerns, government support for environmentally responsible sources and processes, and technological innovations, market participants see the need to shift focus from petrochemical feedstock to renewable feedstock.


A Step Forward for Bio-Based Butadiene

January 1, 2016 | Chemical Engineering

Increased use of ethane from shale deposits as a feedstock for ethylene production has focused attention on the growing need for on-purpose production of butadiene, which has traditionally been produced primarily as a byproduct of conventional ethylene production from naphtha.


Could this Plant Hold the Key to Generating Fuel from Co2 Emissions?

January 1, 2016 | The Globe and Mail

Recapturing carbon from the atmosphere is one thing, but a Canadian company wants to go one step further by turning that carbon into fuel. In the process, it hopes to transform the fight against climate change, reports Ivan Semeniuk.


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20th GC&E Conference: Call for Papers Now Open

January 4, 2016 | Nexus Blog

Submit an abstract by February 15, 2016 for a chance to be a part of the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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

The 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference: “Advancing Sustainable Solutions by Design”


Call for papers for the 20th GC&E Conference, held June 14-16, 2016 in Portland, Oregon, will be open from January 4, 2016 through February 15, 2016!


Held by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, this event is the premier conference on green chemistry and engineering. Hundreds of participants from industry, government, and academia come together every year to share research as well as education and business strategies to ensure a green and sustainable future.


If you are interested in contributing your part to GC&E by presenting a paper, or would like to see a listing of topics to be covered, visit the technical track program page at this year’s conference website. Abstracts are due by February 15, 2016.


Please contact with any conference related questions.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


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

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