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New bachelor programme in chemistry opens doors to international jobs

March 30, 2016 | University of Copenhagen News

Denmark needs chemists who can develop efficient and environmentally sound extraction of fossil oil and gas.

 

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Toxicity is a hazardous waste

March 30, 2016 | Chemistry World

Where do you stand on the role of academia in training the next generation of chemists: should we favour ‘applied chemistry’ or ‘science for the sake of science’?

 

Redeeming a 'maligned' science [locked content]

March 30, 2016 | Chemical Watch

Chemistry has made substantive changes to the way we live since the industrial revolution, said Dr Swaminathan Sivaram...

 

Recycling waste wool a step closer

March 29, 2016 | Phys.org

From the shearing shed to catwalk, world stockpiles of waste wool are suddenly in fashion with Flinders scientists who have found a way to give them high value.

 

Avoiding greenwashing: 10 principles of truly sustainable packaging design

March 29, 2016 | Sustainable Brands

As a packaging designer and nature lover, I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.

 

Stony Creek Colors plans new manufacturing complex in Stony Brook, TN

March 28, 2016 | Area Development

Stony Creek Colors, Inc. will locate a new manufacturing facility in Springfield, Tennessee.

 

Chemists devise safer, cheaper, 'greener,' more efficient system for the synthesis of organic compounds

March 28, 2016 | Phys.org

Chemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have devised a safer, more environmentally friendly, less expensive and more efficient water-based system for the synthesis of organic compounds typically used in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, cosmetics, plastics, textiles and household chemicals.

 

 

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

BPA Substitute can trigger Fat Cell Formation: Chemical used in BPA-free products exhibits similar endocrine-disrupting effects

March 22, 2016 | Science Daily

Exposure to a substitute chemical often used to replace bisphenol A in plastics can encourage the formation of fat cells, according to a new study.

 

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Global Biocatalysis and Biocatalysts Market 2016-2020 - Key Vendors are BASF, Codexis & DuPont - Research and Markets

March 22, 2016 | Business Wire

Biocatalysts are used for different applications ranging from food and beverages to biofuel production.

 

Apple Announces New Recycling Program as Interest in Green Gadgets Grows

March 21, 2016 | The Guardian

Efforts to reduce e-waste have led some tech designers to create devices that aren’t as disposable as the gadgets we’re used to.

 

Evolving State Green Chemistry Initiatives

March 19, 2016 | National Law Review

States continue to enact new laws and implement a diverse array of programs and requirements seeking to regulate the manufacture, sale, and use of chemicals in products.

 

FY 2016 and FY 2017 Pollution Prevention Grant Program Request for Proposals

March 18, 2016 | EPA

Pollution Prevention Grant Program funds grants or cooperative agreements that implement pollution prevention technical assistance services and/or training for businesses and support projects that utilize pollution prevention techniques to reduce and/or eliminate pollution from air, water and/or land.

 

Four Paths to More Sustainable Plastics

March 17, 2016 | Triple Pundit

Rising consumer consciousness is continuing to heighten demand for plastic feedstock that isn’t quite so harmful to our planet.

 

Researchers Seek Ways to Extract Rare Earth Minerals from Coal

March 15, 2016 | Phys Org

With supplies growing scarce of essential materials needed to make products ranging from smart phones to windmills, Virginia Tech researchers are working with academic and industry partners in a $1 million pilot project to recover rare earth elements from coal.

 

Research at Your University: Green polymers using supercritical carbon dioxide

March 14, 2016 | IMPACT

Silvio Curia and Steve Howdle from the Chemistry department have been researching ways to make polymers using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2).

 

Ucore, IBC Prepare to Test Innovative Rare Earth Separation Pilot Plant

March 13, 2016 | Petroleum News

Will the rare earth elements separation technology that Ucore Rare Metals Inc. has been endeavoring to develop during the past two years revolutionize the recovery of these minerals crucial to modern technology?

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

I think I’m still trying to come to terms with how fast the year is going by; we’re finishing the first quarter already and Spring has officially arrived!  We eagerly await the cherry blossoms in the tidal basin here in DC, all set to be at their peak this week.

 

Perhaps the reason that things are going so quickly is because there is so much going on here at the ACS GCI. It seems as though the “crazy period” for the annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference was rolled back a bit this year. We have set the technical program a few weeks ago and I am delighted we had so many high-quality abstracts submitted that we added an additional six sessions to our program. This is, I think, a cause for celebration, and just perhaps, a bit of panic!  As I mentioned in my previous post, there is so much going on at this Conference that it will be hard to keep up with it all. Great keynotes, special events every night beginning with the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards ceremony, roundtable meetings, workshops and something for everyone who attends – you won’t be bored!  We are very encouraged and greatly appreciative of all the efforts by our Program Chairs, Advisory Committee, session chairs and others who are working very hard to make this event a success. I hope that you can join us in Portland.

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, there will be a workshop immediately following the conference to flesh out the Educational Roadmap that we are developing.  This multi-year, collaborative effort is moving forward and I’d like to tell you about one opportunity for you to contribute to this before that workshop.  On April 25th were will be holding an “Ask the Innovators” event on our GC Innovation Forum.  I hope you have been on the forum and participated in previous “ATI” events.  These have been very successful in getting people to exchange ideas and ask questions of experts in green chemistry. The April 25th event will be focused on getting input to some key ideas around sustainable and green chemistry capabilities we’d like to see in graduates with chemistry degrees. Please plan on joining and contributing so we are in a good position to move the road map forward in June.

 

There has been a lot of industrial roundtable activity over the past few months that is worth mentioning. I mentioned in my last post that the Chemical Manufacturing roundtable was about to hold a workshop on Less Energy Intensive Separation Alternatives to Distillation. This workshop convened 42 participants on the 17th and 18th of February here at the ACS Headquarters There are many aspects to what the roundtable is achieving and I was greatly encouraged by the outcomes. The Project Team will be convening additional workshops in the 2nd and 3rd quarter to continue to round out the roadmap. I continue to be inspired by the commitment and vision this team has displayed, and look forward to a great technology roadmap.

 

The Pharmaceutical roundtable met in Cheshire, England, for their first meeting of the year earlier this month. There is so much going on with this roundtable , so I will update you on just a few of the many activities. The grant program continues with the award of three grants to pursue research into flow/continuous processing, two bio-pharma grants, and approval for a new grant cycle for this year. I eagerly await the public release of the web-based reagent guide which will be available after the GC&E Conference (you can see a sample of it now). This will be a tremendous contribution to green chemistry in industry and especially, in academia. The Roundtable has organized six sessions for the GC&E conference and these will be excellent. The Roundtable aspires to grow and we are actively engaged in discussion with other companies who are not members.  If you’re in the Pharma or allied industries, please do consider becoming a member!

 

We just returned from the 251st ACS National Meeting in San Diego. For those of you who don’t attend these meetings, I can tell you that they are a blur of constant activity. The ACS GCI supports the work of two ACS Board Committees, the Committee on Environmental Improvement and Corporation Associates, and there are many opportunities to collaborate on sustainable and green chemistry. There are a number of ACS Divisions that routinely program in sustainable and green chemistry – the Environmental Division, the Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Division, the Organic Division, the Medicinal Chemistry Division, the Polymer Division, to name just a few.  This is, in my opinion, very encouraging.  We want to see sustainable and green chemistry woven into all Division programming!

 

We routinely have a booth at the National Meeting and we are extremely excited to have had over 800 people who stopped by the booth. This is a record for us and extremely encouraging. Those who stopped by got to hear a little about green chemistry and how they can move green chemistry forward in what they do. As many who stop by are students, I am buoyed by their interest in green chemistry and hope they continue to look for opportunities to integrate it into their future academic and post graduate careers.

 

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

 

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

 

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

Many of our readers will have heard of Dr. Paul Anastas, currently of Yale, as an early champion of green chemistry whose passion and drive continue to advance the field. Anastas, then with the EPA was one of the organizers of the first GC&E Conference and will return this year as a fitting keynote for our 20th anniversary. In anticipation of his keynote speech this June 14th, we asked him to take a look back on the past 20 years of green chemistry and what the he thinks the next 20 may hold.

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Q: You are keynoting at the 20th anniversary of the conference you helped put together 20 years ago. What does this mean to you and what subjects would you like to highlight in your keynote?

 

A: Thinking back 20 years ago, there were many people around the world who were genuine champions of green chemistry. And even if they were doing great green chemistry, they too often felt as if they were alone in the world and they didn't have a community. There were wonderful individual efforts to build green chemistry research and to develop green chemistry education, business and even policy, but there was nothing to bring them together; there were no journals, there was nothing. So one of the things that really drove me to try to set up this conference back in 1996 was to give people a community and support. It was a something more than just a place to present their work. It was a tangible way to let the champions know that they were not alone and, that there are people who thought as they did and let them exchange ideas. So when I look back at the history of the conference, and how it has brought together so many different people from so many different countries and backgrounds and many different industry sectors and from different parts of academia, I think that the greatest achievement of this conference has been building the international green chemistry community.

 

Q: What do you think has changed in the past 20 years with green chemistry and GC&E, and how have you seen that reflected in the symposia?

 

A: When green chemistry’s conceptual framework was first emerging, people would think about different elements of it. For example, how can we move away from wasteful synthesis, or, how can we not use toxic solvents, or, how can we make things from renewable feedstocks and so they are degradable in the environment.  Many of the talks and presentations would focus on those individual elements that people were trying to achieve. One of the things we’ve seen over time is that people have started to think far more systematically and holistically and view the 12 Principles as the cohesive and comprehensive framework that it is. That kind of systems thinking has greatly increased its presence in the conference and that’s important. Why is this important?  Because it is one thing to look at your chemistry to make it less polluting, or less wasteful, or a little bit more efficient and it is another thing to drive a genuine innovation. Genuine innovation only comes through systems thinking.

 

Q: In the beginning, where did you see the conference going and has it fulfilled your expectations and goals?

 

A: The whole point of the conference was to build a community and to see what it can achieve. The goal was to move from an initial understanding of what green chemistry was, to a far more holistic vision to what it could be. Do I think that the conference is still on that trajectory of a continuous improvement? Yes, and it always will be. The theme of this year’s conference is all around design. There is the reason why “design” is the most important word in the definition of green chemistry. This is because design requires a thoughtful planning of products, processes and systems.  How the conference reflects these aspirational goals will always continue to improve and never be completed.

 

Q:  What do you think the significance of this annual conference had been to the green chemistry community?

 

A: For so many years, especially for the first decade when I was lucky enough to Chair the conference, the whole purpose of the conference was to make it a home to the green chemistry and green engineering community. And I’d like to see this trend to continue. Everyone knows that in 2016 there are countless conferences all over the world related to green chemistry-- there are topical conferences, regional conferences, industrial conferences and there will be more and more as the field continues to grow. Which are all wonderful, however, what the Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference should always strive to be is that go-to conference that people consider their scientific home

 

Q:  Where do you think green chemistry and engineering will be 20 years from now?

 

A: The good news is that the field of green chemistry and green engineering will be inventing things, doing things and discovering things that I am incapable of imagining in 2016. When we think about what the green chemistry has accomplished in the past 25 years, I think that one of the most exciting things about all of those achievements is not the magnitude or breath of them, but rather that they represent the tip of the iceberg of what is possible and the fact that this is only the beginning. When we look at the new conceptual frameworks, new ways of thinking and different perspectives, we can’t really tell where this effort is going to lead, and, how people, groups and institutions are going to build on it and take it into new directions. Many people think that the word “green” in green chemistry might mean environmentally friendly or economically friendly, (with green being the color of money); but the most exciting definition “green” in green chemistry is “young, fresh and new”. And that is what I always hope for green chemistry, that is stays ever-green.

 

Q:  If you were a young chemist today, what promising area of research or study would you focus on?

 

A: I would try to identify the research questions by taking a very hard look at the world as it is today and I would identify what are the most absurd things about the status quo; because there’s plenty of absurdity. Whether it’s the way we produce our food, the way we think about medicine, the way we generate, store, and transport our energy, and the way that we clean our water. Look at how many of our fundamental processes of the economy, society and civilization make no sense and create disparities, tragedies, contamination, pollution and depletion. This is not the way it should be. These are areas for innovation, discovery and improvement.  And yes, there are millions of interesting research questions that one could ask. Why would you ever want to pursue one if it didn’t have a chance of improving the world? So find these current absurdities and think of using your talents to help the world.

 

The 20th Annual GC&E Conference will be held on June 14-16, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. Receive a discounted price during advanced registration through April 29th. For more information, visit gcande.org.

 

 

 

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

 

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

Introduction

 

To make an alkane from an alkene, a carboxylic acid from a nitrile, or a ketone from an alcohol, a chemist will most likely consider hydrogen a key ingredient. What a chemist might not consider, for these and many other cornerstone reactions, is from where that hydrogen is sourced.

 

Any concern raised about our hydrogen supply might seem like a moot point. Hydrogen is, after all, the most abundant element in the universe. But while hydrogen is vital in processes that support everything from global food production to fibers in clothing, the supply and production methods aren’t often topics of conversation. As a key building block for ammonia, hydrogen is an important ingredient in fertilizers that support global food production. Meanwhile, ammonia is the second largest chemical product produced worldwide. In addition, many biological products like vegetable oils are often hydrogenated to improve their oxidative stability. Polymers, another huge segment of the chemical industry, often rely on methanol produced using hydrogen as a reagent. To provide some scale for the magnitude at which chemical industry relies on hydrogen, the plastics market alone (a subcategory of the broader polymers market) is projected to be worth $654.38 billion by 2020.

 

Despite much talk about a pollution-free “hydrogen economy” for hydrogen as an energy carrier, the majority of hydrogen – up to 95% - is produced for industrial use in chemical upgrading. The process of steam –methane reforming uses methane derived from natural gas. The energy-intensive reaction operates under far-from mild conditions, requiring 1000-degree Celsius steam under up to 362 psi pressure in the presence of a catalyst. The products, in addition to hydrogen, include carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Although natural gas is not absolutely essential for hydrogen production it’s an inexpensive and well-established process for doing so.

 

Research and Innovation

 

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Most often, hydrogen production is talked about in terms of its viability as a fuel. Although that’s not the focus of this article, the use of hydrogen in transportation has been the impetus for many recently developed technologies that could enable sustainable hydrogen production for large-scale use. While the amount of GHG emissions generated from producing hydrogen via natural gas are less than half compared to conventional gasoline vehicles, it is still a limited technology since employing this process often requires a continued dependence on non-renewable petroleum feedstocks. In short, as Dr. James Jackson, a professor of chemistry at Michigan State University, made clear in a presentation for the Energy Biosciences Institute in 2011, “Hydrogen has to be understood as a petrochemical. If you buy commercial hydrogen today, it’s made by reforming of methane, and it’s essentially always downstream from a fossil source.” Or, in other words, there is work to do whether the context is a hydrogen fuel cell car or a chemical production facility.

 

Although hydrogen production for energy and for chemical manufacturing are quite different, it’s easy to imagine current work on hydrogen fuel cells or energy storage becoming the basis for technology at an industrial scale. While there is a great deal of research toward producing renewable hydgrogen, there are challenges for all of the current methods.

 

For example, hydrogen can be produced via electrolysis, but the energy input is higher than that which hydrogen returns.  At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a wide array of more sustainable water splitting methods are being investigated. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting is just one method of harvesting sunlight to produce hydrogen from water, reaching conversion efficiencies around 12%. These systems employ semiconducting materials which, unfortunately, often require materials with undesirable supply chain risks like gallium, indium or platinum.

 

Alternatives to using critical materials could include metal-organic frameworks made using more abundant materials, eventually achieving similar efficiency. Water can also be split by microbes that produce oxygen and hydrogen from sunlight. Hydrogen photoproduction is, however, currently limited by an organism’s ability to withstand the unusually high oxygen levels that are generated.

 

Similarly, microbes carefully selected for their genetics – for example, microbes that show both potential for direct conversion of hemicellulose to hydrogen and don’t produce unwanted byproducts – are being employed for their potential in hydrogen production via fermentation with low feedstock costs.

 

Biochemical technology has the potential to take the process one step further. For some chemicals it’s possible to skip the hydrogen production step in the first place, directly synthesizing the desired product. For example, researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology are working to engineer nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria for the production of ammonia.

 

Of course, not all current research in the field is bio-based. High-flux solar furnaces can sustainably reach the high temperatures needed to drive thermochemical hydrogen-generating reactions. At NREL, biomass gasification is driven by concentrated solar energy. This process can produce bio-oil as well as up to 83% of the hydrogen potentially available in the biomass. Again, a drawback of this process is that, currently, critical materials are used to achieve the catalytic reformation.

 

But sustainable synthetic molecular catalysts are simultaneously being explored for sustainable hydrogen production. Again utilizing solar energy, carbon quantum dots have been employed in mild conditions for photocatalytic hydrogen generation. Catalysis could provide a twist on the conventional methane steam-reforming – a candidate for more sustainable hydrogen production using bio-derived feedstocks. Although researchers at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology achieved a relatively low efficiency hydrogen conversion from a copper-nickel catalyst and bio-based ethanol, it could be what’s needed to break the trail for more efficient - yet sustainable – catalysts for hydrogen production.

 

 

Looking Ahead

 

It remains to be seen whether or not recently developed hydrogen production methods, like the few discussed here, hold potential for use on an industrial level. The question may become: what technology is the most practical for large-scale hydrogen production? As fuel cells gain acceptance in cars and hydrogen is increasingly generated using renewable energy, perhaps hydrogen infrastructure and understanding will grow to pique industrial interest.

 

Achieving sustainable hydrogen production is likely to be a very slow transitional process, but already the U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Cell Technologies Office anticipates a hydrogen economy where production is diversified, utilizing natural gas augmented with “renewable, nuclear, coal (with carbon capture and storage), and other low-carbon, domestic energy resources.” With ever-increasing capabilities for sustainable hydrogen production, chemical manufacturing that relies little on non-renewable feedstocks may indeed become a thing of the past.

 

 

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

 

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

The Green Chemistry Commerce Council (GC3) is pleased to announce the second annual Innovators Internship Program, which places technically proficient students into sustainability-related summer internships with their member companies. The interns spend 10-12 weeks working within a GC3 member company, learning the skills needed in sustainable industry. This year's interns will also have the opportunity to attend the GC3 Innovators Roundtable and network with major companies who are contributing to the advancement of green chemistry. This year there are 4 positions available for STEM graduate students and recent bachelor’s degree recipients, which are located throughout the U.S. with a stipend of $15-30/hr, depending on the company, location, and the applicant’s experience. Apply by April 4th at http://greenchemistryandcommerce.org/projects/innovators-internship-2016.

 

Who is eligible?

In order to be considered for the GC3 Innovators Internship Program, you must be…

• A graduate student OR recent recipient of bachelor’s degree (within 6 months)

• Specialized in a scientific/technical discipline

• Eligible to receive payment for work in the U.S. during the summer term (citizens, residents, non-residents with relevant visas)

• Passionate about sustainability

 

Program Dates

 

April 4, 2016: Application deadline

May 24-26, 2016: GC3 Innovators Roundtable

June-August 2016: 10-12 week internship period

 

Applications are due by April 4, 2016.

 

If you have any questions, email internship@greenchemistryandcommerce.org.

 

 

 

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

 

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

Contributed by Coralie Martin, Communication, Marketing and IR Manager, Deinove; Dennis McGrew, Chief Business Officer, Deinove

 

More consumers are seeking out products labeled as “natural.” This is especially true in some specific market segments, such as the cosmetics market and the food and feed sector, in which consumers are increasingly sensitive to the “naturality” of the ingredients.

 

How can we meet this growing demand when natural resources are limited? By developing new sustainable production methods! Biotechnological production is a path which must be explored further. It is widely applied to pharmaceutical manufacturing, but much less common for the production of daily consumer goods.

 

We at DEINOVE, a France-based industrial biotech company, work to address this challenge by developing new production modes for the industry that are responsible, sustainable and cost-efficient. Our innovative green solutions advance the use of renewable feedstocks and their viability is evidenced by our ability to scale up and accrue industrial partnerships.

 

DEINOVE’s technological platform

 

During the early stages of the company, DEINOVE’s research team was busy collecting bacteria samples around the world, especially on mainland France and French overseas territories. They collected samples from extreme environments like deserts, glaciers, hot springs, volcanoes, lagoons, and tropical forests in order to target particularly resistant strains of higher value for industrial applications.

 

The company has built a large bacterial library now containing more than 6,000 strains – some of which are fully sequenced and annotated - and has developed a technology platform that enables it to:

  • select the best strain profile in terms of growth and metabolic capacity
  • optimize these strains by genetic engineering (overexpression of the targeted metabolic pathways, elimination of competing pathways) – if so required - and fermentation engineering (optimization of culture and fermentation processes, optimization of substrates)
  • validate these new production systems by scaling up processes

 

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DEINOVE’s bacterial library

 

It took DEINOVE’s team four years to harvest the strains in these numerous hostile biotopes. Using a patented selection method consisting of irradiating the environmental samples, the company collected 6,000 strains, rare and extremophile, with unique metabolic capabilities. Many bacterial phyla are represented in this strain bank, and thus might be exploited: Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes… including one genus, which is totally uncommon: Deinococcus.

 

This variety of strains give access to a wide range of naturally-occurring compounds, which are of interest for industrial use, such as carotenoids, lipids, cell walls, exopolysaccharides, enzymes, osmolytes, etc. DEINOVE is committed to harnessing this strength.  

 

A few words about Deinococcus bacterium

 

This non-pathogenic bacterium is known as one of the oldest life forms on earth originating about 3 billion years ago. It is well known for being extremely resistant to radiation, dessication and other stress factors. D. radiodurans for example is 50 times more resistant than Escherichia coli to ionizing radiation. It was first isolated in 1956 when canned meat was found spoiled even though it had been exposed to radiation, a sterilization method.

 

The organism can withstand massive doses of radiation and can even survive being completely dried out. When that occurs, "The genome is shattered into hundreds of pieces. It is a dead cell,” Miroslav Radman, author of the study, said. "But out of this horrendous damage, it can resurrect.” Given these outstanding resistance properties it's not difficult to imagine the potential of such bacteria for biotechnological applications!

 

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This led to the creation of the company DEINOVE in 2006, the sole company exploiting these bacteria for industrial processes. Leveraging the thermophilic properties of Deinococcus bacterium, its ability to use polymeric sugars and the production of enzymes, the initial focus of the company was the production of second-generation bioethanol. The important work done within this project has enabled development of a unique metabolic engineering platform and successfully established the Deinococcus as a novel host for industrial production – whether for commodities, chemical intermediates or specialties.

 

Deinococcus: a natural carotenoids producer

 

Deinococcus bacteria naturally produce carotenoids. Interestingly, their carotenoid-containing lipid membrane explains its red pigmentation and, among other factors, allows for its remarkable resistance.

 

Carotenoids - beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, astaxanthin, to name but a few - are compounds of industrial interest. These are widely used as colorants in food and feed (color of choice for pigmenting fishes for example) and as antioxidants in cosmetics and nutritional supplements. Nutritional supplements is the fastest growing segment.

 

Distinguished by their orange, yellow, and red pigments, carotenoids are found in some plants, algae, and bacteria. Carotenoids act as antioxidants within the body, protecting against cellular damage, the effects of aging, and even some chronic diseases. These beneficial compounds cannot be synthesized by humans or animals; diet is the only way to get them. About 75 % of existing production consists of petroleum derivatives; the rest is produced by plant extraction, or fermentation, mainly from fungi or microalgae. The natural carotenoid sector is growing, particularly benefiting from consumer demand. Yet, supply of bio-based solutions remains limited by high production costs related to low production yields and to the limited availability of raw materials (seasonality, sustainability, etc.). Consequently, biotechnological production is a good option to combine natural production processes and industrial performance.

 

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DEINOVE’s competitive advantages

 

Deinoccocus shows critical benefits for the carotenoid production compared to the existing biotechnological processes:

  • they multiply quickly: their growth rate is much higher than that of Haematococcus pluvialis (reference algae for the production of astaxanthin, for instance) ; 0.6 h-1 vs. 0.05
  • they have a high cell density (50-60 g/l vs. 5-7 g/L astaxanthin producers), thus reducing production costs
  • they can produce carotenoids naturally from diverse feedstocks (C6 sugars, C5 sugars, polymeric sugars like starch)
  • the production equipment is cheaper than photobioreactors
  • the quality of the final product is consistent

 

In addition to favorable natural capacities, DEINOVE benefits from its high-throughput metabolic engineering platform to improve the performance of the strains and achieve significant production levels, suitable for industrial applications, giving the company a real competitive advantage. It should be noted that, in such circumstances, the final product is GMO-free even if its production is not.

 

Progress and next steps

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The DEINOVE teams have optimized strains for the production of carotenoids that have already been approved for commercial purposes. Proof of concept has been obtained in the laboratory for five molecules. Optimization of the strain by the high-throughput genetic engineering platform has increased product yields by a factor of 6 to 8 compared to initial performance and thus achieving, for some of these molecules, satisfactory levels for subsequent scale-up.

 

DEINOVE aims to commercialize several carotenoids within two to three years whose production will be ensured by production partners. The next steps of the program are:

  • Improvement of final yields and production volumes;
  • Development of extraction and purification of these carotenoids to obtain a marketable product;
  • Validation of the functional benefit of the molecules produced;
  • Continuing regulatory proceedings for market authorization.

 

 

 

DEINOVE could become a real game-changer in the way we produce innovative natural ingredients. Major industrial players have already wagered on the wealth of the DEINOVE strain bank, starting with Avril and Flint Hills Resources (Koch Industries) who rely on DEINOVE for the production of ingredients for animal nutrition. DEINOVE focuses on screening its bacterial library, to identify and optimize the bacterium that are able to produce the targeted compounds in acceptable quantities at competitive economics.

 

 

 

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

 

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

Contributed by Peter B. Littlewood, Director of the Argonne National Laboratory

 

At the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, approximately 1,400 scientists and engineers work to solve some of our greatest energy challenges. Stresses created by climate change and an aging electric grid, coupled with a national effort to reduce our reliance on petroleum, have increased the demand for revolutionary energy systems that are inexpensive and environmentally friendly.

 

Solar panels, fuel cells, and batteries provide energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the resilience and flexibility of our energy sources. Argonne researchers are investigating affordable and sustainable materials that can help ensure the wide adoption and long-term success of these technologies.

 

With access to state-of-the-art facilities—including the Advanced Photon Source and Center for Nanoscale Materials, both DOE Office of Science User Facilities—the laboratory’s chemists, as well as researchers in related disciplines, study the processes that enable energy efficiency, performance, and durability in solar photovoltaics, fuel cells, and batteries as they pursue new materials for these applications.

 

To find new ways to harness the abundant power of the sun, Northwestern University, in collaboration with Argonne, leads the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center. ANSER is a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center, which brings together teams from multiple institutions to conduct fundamental research for solving “grand challenges.”

 

ANSER scientists are currently searching for an alternative to silicon solar cells that will reduce the cost and size of solar panels, as well as the energy required to manufacture them. Today’s silicon solar cells operate at about 20 percent efficiency and researchers don’t see a way to significantly, yet affordably, boost the efficiency of silicon. And while silicon makes a good semiconductor for delivering electricity, it absorbs sunlight inefficiently, which means more silicon is needed to build thicker cell layers. Finally, the process to purify silicon for solar cell fabrication is energy-intensive.

 

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One way to expand the scalability of solar energy is to find new chemistries that promote conversion of sunlight into electricity, so scientists can build thinner solar cells made of cheaper, more abundant materials. The challenge: materials with the desired light-absorbing and conductive properties also tend to be more expensive or more toxic. ANSER scientists are researching a number of promising ways to enhance the properties of available non-toxic materials and overcome the hurdles associated with them. Rust-like iron oxides, hybrid perovskites halides, and organic polymers are just a few examples.

 

Iron oxides are incredibly cheap and plentiful but have poor solar-absorbing and conductive properties in bulk; in thin films, however, these properties are enhanced. Researchers are engineering the surface at the nanoscale to further exploit these properties for improved efficiency.

 

Hybrid perovskites halides are terrific light-harvesters and have generated positive attention as solar cell contenders, but these hybrids are traditionally lead-based—the solubility of lead in water commands special attention when deploying hybrid perovskites halides in the environment. Researchers are looking to replace the lead with largely non-toxic tin. Finally, organic polymers use no precious elements in the solar cell but currently require potentially toxic heavy metal catalysts for synthesis—researchers are identifying and improving new polymerization techniques that could eliminate the use of heavy metals.

 

Hydrogen is an energy carrier with enormous potential for wide-scale energy storage and as an automobile fuel. Hydrogen fuel cells, and proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells in particular, work by sending the proton of a hydrogen atom through an electrolyte into the cathode, while the atom’s electrons are diverted around the electrolyte, creating a loop of electricity. When the electrons rejoin the protons in the cathode, they close the electrical circuit and the process produces water as a waste product.

 

This seemingly simple process, however, requires a special material: the precious metal platinum. In automotive fuel cells, half the cost of the fuel cell stack is spent on platinum, and within each fuel cell, most of this cost is in the cathode, which uses over four times more platinum than the anode.

 

Argonne scientists are helping reduce and even eliminate the use of platinum in fuel cells with innovative new catalysts. Argonne recently accelerated its efforts in this area by collaborating with DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory to create the Electrocatalysis Consortium, which is devoted to finding cheap yet effective alternatives to platinum in fuel cell cathodes—they’re starting with the non-precious elements iron and cobalt and continuing to search for other candidates.

 

As part of the consortium, scientists will use Argonne’s high-throughput laboratory to fabricate catalysts and electrodes and rapidly assess their structure and performance, aided by insights from techniques such as X-ray imaging and spectroscopy. In previous fuel cell tests, Argonne researchers have demonstrated that nanostructures designed to increase the density of active sites can improve the performance of non-precious metal catalysts. In particular, metal-organic frameworks add a new dimension to the cathode nanostructure to improve performance and power density while also lowering cost.

 

Better batteries have already revolutionized how we live and work, powering our laptops, cell phones, and electric and hybrid vehicles. Argonne leads DOE’s Battery and Energy Storage Hub, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), where scientists and engineers from national laboratories, universities, and industry develop new electrochemical systems, battery architectures, and fabrication methods to improve the safety, energy densities, and life cycle of batteries.

 

Researchers are exploring a few types of battery chemistries that could change how we use and store energy. The lithium ions in lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries carry with them a single charge, but a battery chemistry known as multivalent intercalation uses ions like magnesium that have more than one charge and could potentially double energy storage capacity.

 

Another type of battery, called “redox flow,” replaces solid metal electrodes used in many Li-ion batteries today with energy-dense liquid electrodes. In this model, micron-sized polymers and gel-like active materials can be separated across electrodes using commercial technology already available.

 

Argonne researchers have also created a unique solution for doubling the energy density in a nickel-rich battery cathode. Researchers noticed that when they operated nickel-rich cathodes at higher voltages, energy capacity dropped and damaged the battery life cycle. Splitting the cathode’s nickel particles in half to see what was happening, researchers realized the nickel surface was experiencing stress as it reacted with the lithium. To retain high capacity while improving stability, they created something new: composition gradient particles composed of 80 to 90 percent nickel at the center and a thin gradient of manganese at the surface. Paired with a silicon composite anode that uses a pre-lithiation approach to add a source of lithium to the cell to compensate for the large irreversible capacity loss in the first cycle, Argonne chemists believe the nickel-manganese gradient cathode could double battery capacity in the next three to five years.

 

Finally, researchers see continued potential with lithium. Lithium-sulfur batteries could be cheaper and more lightweight than current Li-ion batteries, and scientists are studying ways to improve their performance and lifetimes by reducing the build-up of precipitate that can short out the battery.

 

These efforts in solar energy, fuel cells, and batteries are just a few examples of the world-class research underway at Argonne. Our chemists work closely with the laboratory’s computational and materials scientists, biologists, physicists and engineers, as well as institutional and industrial partners, to find energy solutions that work for everyone—consumers, businesses, cities, and the environment.

 

 

 

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Contributed by Philip Jessop, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

 

“CO2 is the answer to everything.” That statement started as a joke in my research group but has become more of a philosophy. Society has so much of this compound; it’s one of the most abundant renewable molecules available to us. It’s nonflammable and essentially nontoxic. Why not put it to use? I have no illusions about CO2 utilization being the answer to global warming; it’s not. However, the versatility of CO2 continues to impress me. It can be a solvent, an acid, a catalyst, a trigger for switchable materials, a viscosity modifier, a feedstock, a fire extinguisher, and even part of my beverage at lunchtime! That versatility has made CO2 the star of my research program.

 

At first glance, my research projects may seem an eclectic group, but they’re all connected to CO2 in some way. We’re working on separation and conversion of biomass-derived chemicals (using supercritical CO2, liquid CO2, CO2-expanded liquids, or CO2-switchable solvents), homogeneously-catalyzed organic reactions (using CO2 as substrate, reagant, solvent, or catalyst), and switchable or stimuli-responsive materials (using CO2 as the trigger or stimulus).  Each of these projects feeds the others. The idea of CO2-switchable solvents started from a project on homogeneously-catalyzed CO2 conversion. Now, advances in CO2-switchable solvents help the catalysis projects. Obtaining fuels or chemicals from biomass must be done efficiently if it is to be green and economical.  In collaboration with Dr. Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, Queen’s University), we’ve developed methods of using CO2 to trigger the aggregation of algae in water, so that the bulk of the water can be easily removed from the algae. Then we can use liquid CO2 or CO2-expanded methanol to extract the lipids from the algae, for use as biofuels. My group has also studied lignin, a renewable source of aromatic molecules. Lignin can be pyrolyzed and single-ring phenols can be separated from the resulting pyrolysis oil using supercritical CO2 rectification. The single-ring phenols can then be methylated to give a mix of anisoles that serve as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-derived anisole, the only aromatic organic solvent to be considered fairly green.

 

CO2-switchable materials and fluids have been a seemingly limitless supply of avenues for research and interesting applications. One of our most exciting technologies include a method of using CO2-switchable aqueous solutions as draw solutions for forward osmosis; that makes it possible to obtain fresh water from wastewater with most of the energy costs supplied by waste heat rather than electricity. We filed for a patent application in 2010 and now a 20 m3/h demonstration unit is operating in Mississauga, Ontario, and giving us accurate data on performance and energy consumption. We’re also developing greener paints and greener drying agents for organic solvents using CO2-switchable technologies. These projects have been in collaboration with Prof. Michael Cunningham (Chemical Engineering, Queen’s).

 

However, I’ve found that it isn’t sufficient to come up with a potentially greener process, if the chemicals involved aren’t particularly green. With so many possible molecular structures to choose from, how can we pick the ones that are most likely fit the application AND be fairly green?  The classical approach is to design a molecule to meet the needs of the application, make it in the lab, prove it works, and then start figuring out whether it’s green. That’s not good enough because it takes a lot of time, and there’s a pretty good chance that the molecule you’ve made will turn out to be problematic. It’s therefore better to use virtual screening, in which you program a computer to consider tens of thousands of structures that might work, and then use QSARs (quantitative structure activity relationships) to predict all of the physical and chemical properties required to determine whether each compound will meet the performance criteria and how damaging the compound might be to health, safety and the environment (EH&S). Then the computer can reject those compounds that don’t meet the performance criteria and rank the remaining compounds in terms of EH&S impacts. Then all we as experimentalists need to do is check the best 30-50 structures and choose a few that appear simple and inexpensive to make. We then go into the lab and synthesize those few, with the confidence that those molecules have a fair chance of being reasonably green.

 

Green chemistry research is changing from a niche activity that’s exciting a few researchers to the new standard way of doing things. Any chemistry research developing new technologies needs to demonstrate to potential users that the environmental impact of the process is better than the technologies of the past. I’m delighted that this change of attitude is taking over as the generations change. Students are demanding green chemistry education, and more and more assistant professors are making green chemistry their field of research. My advice to new researchers in green chemistry: find out the real needs of industry. What chemicals or processes are most in need of replacement? Talk to industry representatives you know or you meet at conferences to get their thoughts on industrial needs, or use databases like the Toxic Release Inventory in the US or the National Pollutant Release Inventory in Canada to determine the industries that are causing the greatest releases of problematic chemicals. Choose problems of a larger rather than a smaller scale, so that any improvements you invent will have the greatest benefit to the environment. Use your time, energy, and creativity to solve those problems.

 

As for me, I’ll continue to follow the path that CO2 has laid out for me. It’s shown itself capable of solving some large-scale problems. Who knows where it will lead me next!

 

 

 

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Contributed by Amanda Kibbel, Student, University of Oregon.

 

In fall 2015, I enrolled in the chemistry course, Green Product Design, designated as a science class for non-science majors taught by chemistry professor Julie Haack at the University of Oregon. I had been looking for classes with a focus on sustainability because, I realized that I lacked knowledge about a crucial aspect of the purpose of design: how to design sustainably.  If I want to create sustainable products in the future, not knowing the full environmental impact of objects is a great disadvantage to me as a designer. If designers continue to create with little thought to the greater impact of their products, eventually they will run out of resources and materials greatly limiting product design’s potential. Continuing on our current track of using non-sustainable materials or using manufacturing processes that are harmful to the earth we are essentially designing our craft/trade into obsolescence.

 

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One of the first projects Product Design students are given is to make a stool out of one plank of wood. We are told this is all the wood we will receive that quarter, a lesson in respecting material with the intention of illustrating that wood is a precious commodity that should not be wasted. Looking back now, I realize I knew nothing about the life cycle of that piece of wood. As a designer, I need to know where the wood comes from, how it is processed, and/or benefits and limitations of using that type of wood in terms of sustainability.  Today, I would also think about the type of glue I was using and how it affects the recyclability of the product or the sandpaper and how you can only use it for a certain amount of time before you have to throw it away.  This course showed me how I could use Green Chemistry to design products and processes that minimize the use and generation of waste and hazardous substances. Green Chemistry became part of my design thinking. When I am designing a product in my classes, I am now able to more fully understand and think about what is involved, how the planet is impacted, and generate ideas for alternative material solutions to current problems.

 

Another critical skill the course taught me was how to balance challenges and opportunities of certain materials. The final group project required the culmination of all that we had learned that applied to creating a greener consumer product. My group consisted of three majors: Product Design, Business, and Environmental Studies. We chose LEGOs as our consumer product. LEGOs are an interactive toy made through injection molding of Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. When choosing a new material, we were asked to look at the whole picture. If we chose to switch to a biodegradable product, we also had to consider the fact that biodegradation is meaningless if the toy ends up in a landfill. Switching materials pushed us to consider the tradeoffs between petroleum and biobased feedstocks; one feedstock is in limited supply while the other has large land and pesticide requirements. Finally, we examined the life cycle of different materials and asked which was making the best use of energy.

 

Knowing that trade-offs are important and understanding general principles of molecular design, I am now able to more thoughtfully generate certain criteria for “greener” materials. Designers spend a majority of their time researching users, defining the true issue the user is facing, and growing a more holistic understanding of how to choose materials for certain characteristics. While designers are trained at choosing the best materials for function, sometimes the materials we choose are not the kindest choice in regards to the earth.

 

Before taking the course I saw chemistry and product design as two subjects that could be somewhat related but were not often seen working together. Afterwards, I gained a new understanding about the similarities between the two subjects. Both are given starting materials, whether it is a plank of wood or monomers, and it is up to the designer or chemist to design the finished product with as little waste as possible and with constant consideration of its environmental impacts.

 

 

 

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United Airlines is flying on biofuels. Here’s why that’s a really big deal.

March 11, 2016 | Washington Post

On Friday, United Airlines will launch a new initiative that uses biofuel to help power flights running between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with eventual plans to expand to all flights operating out of LAX.

 

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Sustainable Chemistry: Putting carbon dioxide to work

March 9, 2016 | Nature

Carbon dioxide is an abundant resource, but difficult for industry to use effectively. A simple reaction might allow it to be used to make commercial products more sustainably than with current processes.

 

Meet 15 of Africa's Most Brilliant Young Scientists – One of them could be the next Einstein

March 9, 2016 | Mail & Guardian Africa

Their biographies, to the lay-man, look like something akin to the work of a superhero, and they could just save the continent.

 

5 Strategies to Accelerate Green Chemistry

March 7, 2016 | GreenBiz

Two years ago, the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) established as its mission the mainstreaming of green chemistry, a point in time where all chemistry — including chemistry and engineering research, education and policy — is considered "green."

 

Paperlogic and the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry Collaborate to Invent and Commercialize Green Chemistry Opportunities for Cellulose Nanofibers

March 7, 2016 | PR Newswire

The Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, LLC (WBI) and Paperlogic, a Southworth Company (Paperlogic), announce their collaboration to create and develop prototypes for a wide array of novel technologies derived from cellulose nanofibers (CNF).

 

Research for Lithium Ion Batteries that can Assist in Utilizing Wind and Solar Energy

March 7, 2016 | PhysOrg

"The issue is that solar energy is only produced during the day, and wind energy only on windy days. It's not always in sync with consumers' demands of electricity and unused energy has nowhere to go."

 

How Kensington Capital Partners Aims To Diversify Alberta’s Economy

March 7, 2016 | Alberta Oil Magazine

The Toronto-based alternative investment house recently opened a Calgary office that's focused on funding energy projects and green technology.

 

 

 

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

 

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Contributed by Meg Sobkowicz Kline, Assistant Professor of Plastics Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell

 

I first came across green chemistry as a Ph.D. graduate student of chemical engineering at Colorado School of Mines. Before that I knew I liked chemistry, but I did not think of it as having the power to change the world. My Ph.D. adviser, Professor John Dorgan, encouraged me to apply for the ACS Green Chemistry and Engineering Summer School. I received an NSF scholarship to attend the summer school and ACS GC&E conference held in the summer of 2006 in Washington, D.C. I remember learning so many new things and ways to look at the choices I was already making in my research. I was impressed by the sense of greater purpose that draws the community of green chemists and engineers together across disparate fields of research. I was also fortunate to meet Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, Director of Education for ACS, who became a friend and important career mentor to me.

 

Even though that first encounter with green chemistry was not particularly early in my career – I had already obtained my Bachelor’s degree and spent four years in industry – I believe that experience was responsible for my lifelong commitment to environmental sustainability in my research. I was already environmentally conscious, having been a field engineer in the oil and gas industry and seen less-than-optimal business practices, but after the Summer School I had an educational foundation to make a difference.

 

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The next year I applied and was awarded a top poster travel scholarship at the GC&E conference. The following year I attended the conference and presented a talk on my research. Over the years, the annual conference has enabled me to maintain my connection with the green chemistry community. Flash forward almost a decade. I am now an assistant professor of Plastics Engineering at University of Massachusetts Lowell. I have a thriving research program focused on improving the environmental sustainability of plastics, and I send students to the Summer School myself.

 

My research looks at ways to replace toxic and unsustainable petroleum-derived polymers with biobased and biodegradable polymers. We are studying advanced processing techniques for one-step solvent-free synthesis of compatibilized bioplastic blends. Another project is looking at aqueous suspensions as alternatives to chlorinated aromatic solvents in polymer electronics processing. Both research areas draw extensively from the Principles of Green Chemistry and Engineering for design of safer materials. We have also worked with the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) in Massachusetts to align our research on safer plastics with the needs of industry.

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to bring green chemistry and engineering to my campus community in a unique way. I am a co-organizer of the 50/50 Lecture Series at UMass Lowell, which aims to both promote a notable scientist’s work and highlight the varied paths that lead to successful STEM careers. I invited Professor Julie Zimmerman, a scholar and champion of green chemistry and engineering, to address our faculty and students on her research and career journey. I first heard Professor Zimmerman speak way back in 2006 at the GC&E Summer School, and I was proud to be able to share that experience as a professor myself. The task of greening our research and industry is a formidable one, but I feel confident that the people I have met through my involvement with GC&E are up to the job!

 

 

 

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Australian Scientists are Making Hair Products from Wool Waste

March 1, 2016 | Gizmodo

From the shearing shed to catwalk, world stockpiles of waste wool are suddenly in fashion with South Australian scientists who have found a way to give them high value.

 

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Greener Chemistry through Renewable Energy

March 1, 2016 | University of Copenhagen

Solar, hydro and wind energy will continue to blossom in the effort to reduce climate change. But green energy has even bigger potential.

 

U Lab Develops Bacteria-Aided Plastic Production Method

February 29, 2016 | Minnesota Daily

The U’s Center for Sustainable Polymers works to produce cheaper, greener synthetics.

 

Going Green in Electronics

February 29, 2016 | Electronic Design

The Green Electronics Council continues its push for sustainability and efficiency through standards and technology.

 

Creating Cheaper Carbon Fiber

February 29, 2016 | The Daily Evergreen

Using new, cheaper ways to create carbon fiber could lead to lighter cars and less gasoline use.

 

MS in Environmental and Green Chemistry

February 28, 2016 | Inomics

Growing public awareness about the state of the environment, chemical product safety and new chemical regulatory policies is driving demand for leaders who are able to understand the science underlying environmental challenges and develop innovative solutions.

 

 

 

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

 

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