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Contributed by Sarah Kwan, Ph.D. Student, Yale University


On March 21th, 2016, I received exciting news that read, “Congratulations on being selected as a 2016 Breen Award Winne.r” I was elated, as not only is it a great honor to receive such a competitive award but it also afforded me the financial ability to attend and be part of the GC&E international conference, and on its 20th birthday! I knew this would be an invaluable opportunity to share my work and knowledge with a distinguished group of students, professors, and professionals from a cross section of disciplines, different from those I meet at the indoor microbiome conferences I more commonly attend.Sarah Kwan.jpg


My research merges biotechnology, engineering, and public health. By investigating ways of mitigating adverse health effects associated with indoor environments, namely asthma and allergies, applying a rational engineering approach to my findings, and applying the principles green engineering I hope to design inherently safe, culturally sensitive, economically feasible, and sustainable solutions for healthy indoor microbial environments to live and work in.


I knew that attending GC&E would enable me to develop a much broader perspective of green engineering solutions used to create healthier indoor environments. It would also allow me to showcase my work to an audience that may not have had the opportunity to think about the possible links between green chemistry/engineering and the indoor microbiome.


I arrived a day early for the conference to attend the GC&E student workshop. The workshop featured a design challenge centered on applying green chemistry to the world of color. I was both nervous and excited to be part of a team tacking this topic as I am an engineer, not a chemist. I was worried I would be the odd one out in a room filled green chemists and would not be able to follow alone or contribute much to the challenge. These fears were squashed almost instantly as workshop attendees stood and introduced themselves and their backgrounds. There were people from all over the world and from many different disciplines, those that had in depth knowledge and passion for green chemistry, of course, and people that specialized in textiles, green engineering and even color and design experts assigned to each group to help contribute and guide us through our design processes. The workshop started off with three great presentations from Eric Beckman, Adelina Voutchkova, and John Frazier, that overviewed how color is used in products and the how to use different tools to design safer chemicals, and ended with numerous group presentations with the ideas we had generated to answer the design challenge that included a variety of solutions from greener hair dyes, phone apps that informed users and manufacturers how to make more informed decisions on the production and purchasing of products containing dyes and pigments to inkjet printers designed to coat threads with pigment saving gallons of water wasted in the material dying process.


The conference itself was equally as interesting. It was kicked off with a keynote address by Paul Anastas touching on the past, present, and future of the world of green chemistry and engineering and then spanned out to cover a variety of topics within the green chemistry and engineering field over the next few days. I attended numerous talks/sessions, too many to cover them all, a couple that really stood out for me were Heather Buckley’s talk on the utilization of waste cardboard for low-cost, greener, building materials used for roofs in India, what an innovative and sustainable solution for affordable roofing materials. I also really enjoyed the talks in the Design of Curricular Materials rapid fire session that included presentations on how to integrate maker spaces into student curricula in a sustainable manner, a great look into the future of education.


The most beneficial part of the conference, for me, was the poster session. Not only because this was where I got to present my work, but also because it was a great upbeat session full of people ready to talk and network with everyone in the room. I was very pleasantly surprised to have a steady flow of people gathered around my poster wanting to talk about different aspects of my work and theirs. I got to brainstorm new directions to take my work, and made numerous connections with governmental, industrial, and academic based professionals alike, some of which will hopefully lead on to collaborations in my future academic career. It was great to be in a room filled with so much enthusiasm and professionalism centered on a topic as important and world changing as green chemistry and engineering. I look forward to attending many more of these conferences and can’t wait for next year’s conference themed “making”.





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Contributed By John Hanson Machado, Upcoming Graduate Student, George Washington University


“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” Paul Anastas quoted Newton in his keynote address. I can’t think of a better quote to set the tone for the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, OR.


The conference was in the “design phase” of its four year life cycle. An interdisciplinary theme was established the day before the conference commenced at the student workshop. Each workshop team consisted of a color expert. For our group, Scott Echols provided technical guidance and direction for the initial stages in the color challenge: “using the principles of green chemistry to design a comprehensive strategy for overcoming the challenges associated with dyes, pigments, inks and structural color.”


Focusing on interdisciplinary work, each team was also equipped with a design expert from the University of Oregon. This coupling, of a color and design expert, proved to be influential in forming a comprehensive strategy for the challenge. Despite our group’s technical response to the challenge, using beta-carotene pigment as a replacement for synthetic allergenic dyes, we were forced as scientists to consider the consumer in our decision-making process.095.jpg


I felt the influence from the design experts most when giving feedback to other groups. I questioned whether offering a more costly, albeit safer, chemical alternative would benefit society or further contribute to the division of social classes. What role does economics play in the safety of others with respect to consumer products? My experience in downtown Washington, DC prompted me to consider policy as a way of addressing this question. In a comprehensive strategy for designing safer chemicals, it is critical to consider product accessibility for all social classes. Without my experience in Washington, DC and the interdisciplinary environment provided by the design experts, I would not have considered addressing policy as part of our comprehensive strategy.


At the Green Chemistry Pub Crawl and Fun Run, we discussed possibilities for future green chemistry student workshops. One idea we considered was a solution to cell phone waste. Just as the chemistry of color prompted comprehensive interdisciplinary answers at the student workshop, so too could a challenge involving a strategy to manage cell phone waste.


The interdisciplinary theme was echoed every day at the conference. “Radical interdisciplinarity” was even a concept described during the first annual GREENX, a special event inspired by TED talks. Attendees and speakers at the conference were from law, government, academia, and industry. As a researcher, this diverse pool of individuals provided an opportunity to connect green chemistry to others beyond the lab.


I found the presence of others attending sessions outside their primary fields humbling. For example, I expected only to see computationally active labs at Jakub Kostal’s workshop on Data Uncertainty in Predictive Toxicology and Alternative Assessment. However, within that room also contained multiple scientists simply interested in integrating computational chemistry in their work as the powerful tool it is.


In a previous NEXUS article, I claimed that I am the same chemist as I was before receiving the Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship. I now know that is not true. I am different, and the difference comes from the experience I gained and community I joined at my first ACS Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.




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Contributed by Jesse Vanderveen, Undergraduate, Queens University


This year I had the privilege of attending the 20th ACS Green Chemistry and Engineering conference and the honour of receiving the Kenneth G. Hancock memorial award. Although this was my first time at a GC&E conference, I could tell this year’s conference was something special. For the first time, it was held in Portland, Oregon. It was the most-attended GC&E conference to date. Finally, it was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of green chemistry.090-2.jpg


I’ve attended conferences before, but never one focused on green chemistry, my field of study. Because of the focus on this subject, I had the wonderful problem of having too many interesting options. Each symposium topic was either appealing, directly relevant to my studies, or both. Unfortunately, you can’t be everywhere at once. In the end I spent my time learning about CO2 utilization, green separations technology, predictive toxicology, and design strategies to maximize benefit (where I presented some of my work as well). The experience of hearing the men and women at the forefront of green technology discussing a variety of problems and proposing solutions was eye opening. Such an opportunity is invaluable for students such as myself. Being able to present my work to them was also a good way to get new perspectives on my research and ponder next steps in my project.


And, of course, there were the keynote speakers. This year we were treated to presentations from Drs. Paul Anastas from Yale, Jin-Quan Yu from the Scripps Institute, and Nate Lewis from Caltech. Paul gave an overview of how far green chemistry has come in the last 25 years and where it will go in the future. Jin-Quan presented his work on C-H activation using weak coordination catalysis. Nate presented his idea for an ideal solar cell to provide energy for fuel-forming reactions.


The conference wasn’t all presentations. There were plenty of opportunities to make new friends and meet old friends over breakfast, coffee, or drinks. These networking events are the perfect opportunity to incubate ideas and dream of a future you can help create. During the downtimes you could browse some exhibition booths as well. I had a lengthy discussion with the folks from InKemia on how to design green solvents and overcome the barriers preventing them from being implemented in a process or product. Finally, if meet and greets don’t interest you, there were even some fun and games! This year featured events such as the Thursday morning fun run and the “green chemistry on tap” pub crawl.


This year’s Green Chemistry and Engineering conference was a fantastic experience. It featured presentations from some of the best and brightest in both green chemistry and green engineering. The focus of the conference on these fields made it an invaluable experience for myself, as it would for any young chemist or engineer working on green technologies. The Portland conference was my first GC&E experience, but I certainly hope it won’t be my last!



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Tova N. Williams, 2015 Ciba Award Winner, North Carolina State University


Little did I know when finally granted permission by my mother to dye my hair for the first time as a high schooler that this experience would lead not only to my experimenting with many colors, but also to my becoming an advocate for the design of sustainable consumer products. Becoming aware of the toxicity concerns associated with the permanent (or oxidative) dyes that I had been using motivated me to start phasing out my blonde and auburn hair and eventually to the heart of my doctoral thesis research—to improve the safety of hair dyes for hair stylists, manufacturers, and consumers while not reducing their efficacy. In fact, as a career, I am dedicated to utilizing green chemistry principles to design environmentally friendly consumer products.


Thanks to ACS and GCI, I have been able to take concrete steps toward becoming the green chemist I strive to be. Last year, I attended my first GC&E conference and the student workshop, and learned about the opportunities associated with the field of green chemistry, by meeting colleagues from around the globe who share my passion to resolve some of the world’s most challenging problems. Keen to present some of my own research and to reunite with familiar faces and meet new faces, I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 GC&E conference with the aid of a Ciba Travel Award. It was especially nice to reconnect with Nidia Trejo, a colleague who recently graduated from Cornell University’s Fiber Science and Nanotechnology program.


To kickoff my conference experience this year, I participated in the student workshop again and was challenged within a day to devise a unique way to improve the impact of color with the aid of a team comprised of a color expert, a designer, an engineer, and two chemists. It was beneficial to serve on a diverse team to approach the challenge from different perspectives and ultimately synthesize solutions for making the most common first step in the hair coloring process, bleaching, more sustainable. I also attended the Communicating Science workshop, and was challenged to describe my research within two minutes to a layman. This workshop was especially helpful because not only did I receive feedback from the facilitator, James Rea, but also from workshop participants who work in unrelated disciplines.


The first keynote address on Day 1 of the conference was given by Dr. Paul Anastas, who reviewed the beginnings of green chemistry and engineering, including the contributions of other pioneers in the field.  During the GREENX discussions held later that evening, Cyrus Wadia, Vice President of Sustainable Business & Innovation at Nike, Inc., made us aware of some of Nike’s sustainability initiatives. The next day, I had the opportunity to tour the campus of Nike’s headquarters to see firsthand that their efforts go beyond making their products more sustainable, as they also seek to make their work environment more environmentally friendly. I was struck by the special care given to the vegetation on campus and the use of bicycles for greener transportation on campus. I could definitely envision myself working there.


On the second night of the conference, I gave a poster presentation covering some of my findings relating to the use of human hair-based keratin films as alternate substrates for hair dye design. The feedback that I received was plentiful and invaluable and will inform my next project steps.


Day 3 of the conference included a technical session pertaining to green chemistry design of synthetic colorants. This area forms the basis of my research. The presentation by my advisor, Dr. Harold Freeman, highlighted an approach to designing safer azo dyes. A presentation devoted to the toxicological properties of organic pigments was given by Dr. Robert Christie who proposed mechanisms for the formation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during the synthesis of pigments from chlorinated aromatic amines such as dichlorobenzidine. PCBs are known to be carcinogenic but they have proved difficult to fully remove from certain commercially important yellow pigments.  Though not covered during any of the technical sessions held during the 2016 conference, there is a need to improve the toxicological profile of cosmetics, in particular hair dyes, a challenge I am excited to take on!

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The most important (and fun) experience at the conference was connecting with other scientists who care about green design strategies.  I met people from diverse arenas ranging from academia to government to industry. Two special connections I made were with Drs. Richard Blackburn and Robert Christie, who have expertise in the coloration of hair and who may collaborate with my research group on future projects.


Reflecting back on my conference experience as a whole, I am very grateful to have received a Ciba Travel Award to travel to a region of the country where I had never been. I cannot wait to see what is in store for next year’s conference!




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Contributed by Christiana Briddell, Communications and Outreach Manager, Green Chemistry Institute®


Accounting for 20% of today’s global pharmaceutical market, biopharmaceuticals have emerged as a significant share of pharmaceutical research and development. Responding to this trend, the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) formed a biopharma focus group in 2012 to incorporate the principles of green chemistry and engineering into biopharmaceutical development and manufacturing. Active participants in the focus group include Genentech, Pfizer, Amgen, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Sanofi, Eli Lilly and Glaxo-Smith Kline.


Biologics production has an entirely different set of environmental challenges than traditional small molecule chemistry. The focus group has identified three main challenges—water, energy and solid waste—detailed in a special report published last year in BioProcess International, “Towards Sustainable Engineering Practices in Biologics Manufacturing.”


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The Roundtable conducted preliminary bioprocess benchmarking among member companies using the Process Mass Intensity (PMI) metric applied to monoclonal antibodies, mAbs, as mAbs represent one of the fastest growing classes of biologics. They  are used in over 40 FDA-approved therapies for treating diseases like cancer, autoimmune diseases, transplant rejection and others.  The benchmarking exercise showed that of the total mass used, water accounts for 87%. In addition, 64% of that water is used in chromatography. Although water is in itself is often considered “green”, the sheer quantity used presents important environmental considerations.


To begin to address this issue the Roundtable issued a request for grant proposals to optimize water use in downstream processing steps for monoclonal antibody production. The winners of this grant are Professor Andrew Zydney from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Penn State and Professor Leo Choe Peng from the School of Chemical Engineering at the Universiti Sains Malaysia.


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Professor Zydney’s proposal is titled, “Countercurrent Staged Diafiltration for Monoclonal Antibody Formulation.” Zydney is an expert in bioseperations and the purification of high value biological products. Zydney received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T. in 1985 and previously worked on the faculty of the University of Delaware.


Associate professor Peng’s proposal is titled, “Diafiltration of Monoclonal Antibody using pH Responsive Membrane with Positive Charge.” Peng, a membrane technology expert, is the first ACS GCI PR grant recipient from an Asian country. Peng received her Ph.D. in Membrane Technology for Environmental Pollution Control at the Universti Sains Malaysia in 2008.


The ACS GCI PR has issued over $1.8 million dollars of grants to fund green chemistry research of relevance to the pharmaceutical industry. The ACS GCI PR website shows a complete list grants issued and resulting papers published.





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SiGNa Marks Opening, Talks Expansion

June 23, 2016 | Democrat and Chronicle

A New York City-based green chemistry company celebrated the grand opening a new manufacturing and research center Thursday at Eastman Business Park — but already is nearing capacity and planning for expansion.


Chemists Find New Way To Recycle Plastic Waste Into Fuel GC+News+Roundup.png

June 22, 2016 | University of California Irvine

A new way of recycling millions of tons of plastic garbage into liquid fuel has been devised by researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC) in China.


Strange Brew: How Chemical Reform Legislation Falls Short

June 21, 2016 | Green Biz

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the national law designed to regulate potentially toxic chemicals, hasn’t been updated since 1976, and there’s wide agreement that the law is inadequate to keeping consumers safe. Now, after years of back and forth, both the House and Senate have finally passed a compromise bill, which the President is expected to sign by the end of the month.



EU Proposes Criteria for Identifying Chemicals That Alter Hormones

June 20, 2016 | C&EN The European Commission last week proposed long-awaited criteria to help regulators determine which chemicals in pesticides and biocidal products such as hand disinfectants are—and are not—endocrine disruptors.



Chemical Plant, Nutrient Recovery Facility Bring Circular Economy One Step Closer

June 20th, 2016 | Sustainable Brands

Two new industrial facilities that will bring the circular economy one step closer were officially opened in Europe on Friday: a carbon dioxide-based chemical plant in Germany and a nutrient recovery facility in the Netherlands




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Contributed by Brooke Mason, 2015 Ciba Award Winners, University of Toledo


I was honored ACS selected me for a CIBA travel award to attend the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, Oregon from June 13-16th.  As an environmental engineering student, I was not sure if I would be selected since I was not a chemistry or chemical engineering student. I applied anyway because I believed I would learn a lot that could relate to my research as well as my future career in sustainability engineering! I also wanted to present my research on the life cycle assessment of photovoltaic cells that use carbon nanotubes (CNT), a project I’ve been working on for over a year.


My conference experience started on Monday with the Student Challenge. I did not know what to expect. To be honest, I was nervous I would not know enough chemistry to be of assistance to my team. I soon realized we were an interdisciplinary team, combining our strengths to create a sustainable solution to a problem in the pigment/dye industry. Through brainstorming, design charrettes, doodles, lots of sticky-notes, and ideas from students from across the world and across disciplines, we created a product that we believe would reduce water consumption in the textile dying industry by 25%!  And to our excitement, our group was selected as the winner of the student challenge!


Tuesday and Wednesday I was in many interesting sessions, learning about green product development, the history of green chemistry, risk assessment, and life cycle analysis from many different experts from across the world! Wednesday night at the poster session I was able to talk to students, faculty, and professionals about my research. I even made a few connections that may provide opportunities for future collaboration. Thursday I learned so much about green chemistry in thin films, knowledge that is directly applicable to my future research.


Overall I had a phenomenal time in Portland and am so thankful to ACS to have been given this opportunity! I believe I will take everything I learned from the conference and apply it to my research, as well as leverage the information to help create a more sustainable future. I believe ACS will see a return on their investment as I hope to provide research that will further the field of sustainability engineering.




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Contributed by Ryan Pearson, 2015 Ciba Award Winner, University of Colorado, Boulder


My interest in green chemistry grew to new heights when I was fortunate to participate in the 2015 ACS Green Chemistry Summer School. After this enlightening experience I wanted to continue to attend events that discussed advances in environmentally conscious science and engineering. I was grateful to receive funding from the ACS CIBA Travel Award to attend a conference I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to attend. My mentor advised that I step out of my comfort zone and apply for an oral presentation, as one of the goals for my Ph.D. career is to become a better public speaker. I was excited to be accepted to give a talk alongside other researchers working in a similar field to me.


On the first day of the conference I attended the ACS GCI green chemistry workshop. It was fantastic to see many familiar faces of people who also attended the ACS Green Chemistry Summer School in the previous year. During this workshop we were split up into 8 teams to brainstorm how to design a marketable product that could be used in the colorant industry.


It was an eye-‐opening experience to see how scientists from different disciplines of chemistry, engineering, and education levels would address a problem. Within minutes everyone was thinking out of the box, leading to great conversations and well-‐developed ideas. It was truly amazing that given the time constraint of a few hours we could critically evaluate a problem and come up with creative solutions. I was excited to volunteer to represent my group and present our ideas in hopes that this would break the nerves and help me warm up for the presentation I would give the following day.


This workshop also allowed for time to network with the experts recruited by the organizers. This broadened my perspective on possible career paths I could pursue in the future. After the workshop was over I continually ran into the workshop’s participants and ended up having dinner with a few, leading to great discussions and new friends. I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is interested in a networking opportunity whilst learning new green chemistry techniques.


Later in the week I presented my research at the New Sustainable Synthetic Strategies through Photoredox symposium. This experience was surreal to be able to listen to top scientists speak and then present my own findings while maintaining the attention of those same speakers. After my talk all the speakers and friends went out to lunch, which lead to a fantastic opportunity to further discuss our common scientific interests.


Overall, this conference proved to be an influential experience in my education. The talks I went to re-‐ingrained techniques I had learned at the ACS Green Summer School. Networking was facilitated due to the common interests in green chemistry and engineering. I am looking forward to watching the connections I made at this conference mature into fruitful relationships.




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This year’s student workshop, held Monday, June 14, 2016, in Portland, was dramatically different from years past. With green chemistry gaining  momentum, it was time to push participants further than ever before with a green chemistry design challenge.


Color dramatically influences human behavior from how we communicate to how we make decisions, and it is a ubiquitous component of consumer products. The materials and processes used to generate color in consumer products have significant impacts on human health and the environment.


In light of economic, social and environmental impacts of color on society, students were asked to use the principles of green chemistry to design a comprehensive strategy for overcoming the challenges associated with dyes, pigments, inks and structural color. The strategies were required to be environmentally viable, socially acceptable and to have a net positive environmental impact compared to existing products and processes.



Each design team included four students from chemistry and engineering: one “Design Catalyst” from the University of Oregon’s Product Design Program (undergraduate) and one “Color Expert” from the chemistry community.


The goal? To get students thinking about the practical application of green chemistry ideas.


During the first part of the workshop, background information was presented on the history, chemistry, impacts, and business of color, and how a variety of tools are used to address the unintended biological impacts of dyes and colorants. Throughout the morning, these presentations ranged g from an Introduction to Color (Eric Beckman) to Toxicology and Rational Design of Safer Chemicals (Adelina Voutchkova) to Products Gone Wild (John Frazier). Before lunch, the teams combined and presented their ideas for “peer-review.” Color and design experts in the room listened to the ideas presented by the students and provided constructive feedback and new directions as needed. One of the challenges in this portion of the workshop was that ideas had to be presented rapidly, with only four minutes to explain the idea and four minutes of review.


At the end of the day, after brainstorming and peer reviews, each team presented their final ideas to the group. Students had the opportunity to brainstorm ideas, test drive possible solutions among  their peers and then present their final ideas to the group at the end of the day.


Interview with Richard Blackburn: Design Challenge Expert


A: In my research at the University of Leeds, I’m mainly working in a couple of different areas. Most of my career I’ve worked in textiles, specifically textile coloration. For my whole time at Leeds, my research group has been all about green chemistry and sustainability issues in the textile industry. A lot of our work is looking at related products and processes. We’ve been looking at green dying processes, better use of greener start materials, greener fibers, and looking at various elements of each of those things. I’ve got PhD students at the moment looking at different prospects I’m presenting about is this week (at the green chemistry & engineering conference).

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One of the other areas I’ve been into for about 10 years is cosmetics. A lot of this work has been in hair dyes, but also cosmetics in general and coming up with green chemistry/sustainable solutions in those industries. I actually have a spin-out company called Keracol Limited, and we commercialize a lot of the work that we do in our research groups. A big element of that is color as well because we’re looking at the examples of hair dyes and all the colorings used in the cosmetic industry.


It was fantastic today [during the GC&E student workshop]  to see all the different disciplines that were represented. It was great that people from different backgrounds were trying to come up with sustainable solutions to the issues in the color industry because there are so many challenges. And it’s not just about textiles. We heard about cosmetics, we heard about hair dye, and we heard about food, but there are also other things like paint and so many different areas where color is important in our lives. I found that taking a multidisciplinary approach to solving the problems in the color industry is really, really novel and inspiring. Other disciplines have things to contribute that maybe a chemist wouldn’t think about, so I think that combining different disciplines, different non-chemical backgrounds, using biologists or people who are associated with the business aspects or product design is the way to solve these huge issues in coloration in relation to green chemistry.


Q: Design students are more used to having to jump into a problem like we asked them to during the student workshop. Did they have to pull the chemists along, or was everyone happy to jump in?


A: Each of us “color experts” had a group of chemists, and mine  was fantastic. I really liked the approach that we took, and everybody was really willing to consider all the issues and think about all the different aspects involved. I understand what you’re saying about chemists not jumping in with the design aspect because I think chemists by default go for a specifically chemical approach. For example, if your problem is the dye, do you go to look at replacing the dye with something else or do you look at the whole system? That might be a system that still uses that dye, but in a better way or more efficiently. But do you even need to use that dye in the first place? Is there a completely different step change that you can think about?


Green chemistry is about step change ideas. I don’t think we really solve sustainability by tinkering at the edges or by small incremental changes. There needs to be step changes, and they need to be innovative. It comes back to thinking about it from that blank piece of paper perspective, without all those prejudices of our individual discipline and  thinking from scratch.



Q: Which group were you with today in the student workshop? What do you think was the most exciting thing that came out of your group?


A: There were really interesting approaches. The specific problem they were looking at in the hair dye industry is a problem I’ve worked on a lot myself. Even without my influence they came up with a lot of great ideas that I’ve never thought about. For example, we’ve spent so much time trying to come up with systems to make the hair dye permanent, and that’s maybe using safer chemistry while still having dye that needs to be permanent. But actually we had to ask: is there a smarter way to do it? So my group had this idea of having something that‘s only temporary, that only lasts one or two washes, but you’re applying it regularly. For example, it could be applied each time you condition your hair or you style your hair, for example. Simply thinking about delivering it in a different way while ultimately achieving the same objective of what the consumer wants can lead to interesting innovations. The same thing applies when you’re looking at applications-based research, where you’re looking at specific problems. What you really need to consider is what the product requirements are at the end, so you don’t necessarily have to go down the same route. It comes back to tinkering with an idea and asking if it’s better to use the same or similar approach or if it’s better to try something completely different. Can we get the consumer what they want in a greener way?  I think that’s where the real opportunities for innovation are.


Q: Are there good opportunities in this space for startups and entrepreneurs?


A: I think there’s a growing consumer interest in sustainability and in natural products, so I think that it presents a lot of opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) to go in with something novel and still get traction. There’s different ways to sell things now. We don’t have to sell things in stores so you can sell things online and sell things in small batches. There are opportunities now that 20 years ago, when green chemistry really started, if you couldn’t convince a large manufacture, brand or retailer that it was a good idea it just wouldn’t happen. But now I don’t think that’s the case. Small SME’s, small companies, really have a future in terms of coming up with these new ideas that I think consumers will buy into.


Q: Do you have much experience with biobased alternatives? I’ve noticed people are trying to make biobased chemicals, but they often make the same chemicals that have already created sustainability challenges. How does that fall in line with taking a step back and approaching problems holistically?


A: Certainly in a lot of product-type situations people don’t look at life cycle analysis. There’s a misconception that we can just replace one component, and the whole thing will be better. However, as we all know as green chemists, that’s not necessarily the case. We need to think about the implication of the product’s whole life cycle within the supply chain. In industries I know well, like cosmetics and food, it is assumed that natural alternatives are going to be safer and greener, but that’s not always the case. Nature has a really important role, but maybe that’s just to inspire us. From that inspiration we can combine nature and green chemistry principles in our systems. It doesn’t necessarily mean taking it from nature directly because that might not be sustainable.


We don’t have enough land to grow food for people, so we’re not going to dedicate the land we do have to growing chemicals for things that are unnecessary like cosmetics. With that said, there’s a lot of opportunity or looking at waste and byproducts from other industries where we either take these materials and use them directly if they’re safe, or we take these products and use them as building blocks to do our own synthetic chemistry.



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


The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners were honored at a ceremony on June 13th in Portland, Oregon. The winners and their innovative technologies are:


Newlight Technologies, from Costa Mesa, California, has developed and commercialized a carbon capture technology that combines methane with air to produce AirCarbon™, a high-performance thermoplastic material that matches the performance of a wide range of petroleum-based plastics while out-competing on price. Newlight’s biocatalyst combines air and methane-based carbon to produce polymers at environmentally friendly, ambient conditions. Despite the conceptual simplicity, previous technologies utilizing carbon capture to manufacture plastics resulted in production costs that were significantly higher than petroleum-based manufacture of plastics.



Professor Paul Chirik, from Princeton University, discovered a new class of hydrosilylation catalysts based on earth-abundant transition metals such as iron and cobalt that have superior performance to existing platinum catalysts. This base metal catalyst technology offers the opportunity to enable new chemical processes that provide the desired product exclusively, eliminate distillation steps, and avoid generation of byproducts and unnecessary waste. This technology is based upon “metal-ligand cooperativity,” a broad catalysis concept pioneered by the Chirik group, where electron changes occur concomitantly between the metal and the supporting ligand.

Dr Paul.jpg


CB&I and Albemarle, companies from Texas and North Carolina, developed a catalyst-process combination technology, the AlkyClean® solid acid alkylation process, which coupled with CB&I’s novel reactor scheme, produces high quality alkylate without the use of liquid acid catalysts. Additionally, neither acid-soluble oils nor spent acids are produced, and there is no need for product post-treatment of any kind.





Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, Indiana, discovered a powerful nitrification inhibitor that can inhibit soil bacteria from rapidly converting nitrogen in the ammoniacal form to nitrate, thereby retaining more nitrogen in the more stable ammoniacal form. By keeping nitrogen in the root zone for a longer period during the season, Dow’s nitrogen stabilizers improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency and reduce nitrogen loss through leaching and nitrous oxide emissions. N-Serve® was the first commercial product introduced by Dow in 1974, but it is only suitable for use with anhydrous ammonia fertilizer applications due to the limitations of its physical-chemical properties.

Dow Agro.jpg


Verdezyne, Carlsbad, California, developed a yeast fermentation technology platform to provide manufacturers and consumers with renewable alternatives to existing petroleum-based chemical intermediates.


This technology focuses on the production of dicarboxylic acid chemical intermediates such as adipic acid, sebacic acid and dodecanedioic acid (DDDA). The first of these to be commercialized will be BIOLON™ DDDA, which will be used primarily in the manufacture of nylon 6,12 for engineered plastics that require special properties such as high chemical, moisture, or abrasion resistance. Other uses for DDDA are in the manufacture of adhesives, coatings, corrosion inhibitors, lubricants, and fragrances.


During the 21 years of the program, EPA has presented awards to 109 technologies.


An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2016 submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2016 winners. The 2016 awards event was held in conjunction with the 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.


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

Photo credit:


Also see Green success stories: The 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards | June 13, 2015 Issue - Vol. 94 Issue 25 | Chemical & Engineering New… by Stephen Ritter, C&EN.




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Contributed by Austin Evans, a recent graduate of The University of Tulsa and a rising graduate student at Northwestern University



086.jpgI am fortunate to have recently attended the American Chemical Society’s 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference held in Portland, Oregon. I was particularly drawn to attend the ACS GC&E conference because I believe that all too often the ideas of sustainability and environmental impact are left out of scientific exploration. It was a remarkable experience to be surrounded by like-minded researchers from across the globe, all interested in what I consider to be a pressing scientific problem.


At the opening ceremony, I met a group of scientists who invited me to dinner. While the Portland sea food was outstanding, it didn’t hold a candle to the discussions had over dinner. The conversation quickly drifted from the research interests of those at the table to broader topics of feedstock sustainability, energy independence, and resource management. It was interesting to hear refined thoughts on these topics which I have only just begun to explore.


The next day, the conference presentations began. In the first session I attended, “Sustainability, How to Get There From Here”, a group of industry chemists presented on how they approach problems in green synthesis. It was really fascinating to hear how companies such as Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Merck view what makes a synthesis sustainable. In particular, I found it fascinating how the strategy to make a synthesis green did not always rely on yield. In some cases, pathways that resulted in lower yields were chosen to reduce other forms of waste (energy, time, solvents). Additionally, it was noted in this session that all too often, it is not the synthesis that is particularly wasteful but instead it is the work-up. This lead to a description of how industrial chemists approach the problem of generating a pure chemical product while not wasting large volumes of supporting chemicals. This session provided me with an insight into how large firms combine the desire to control cost while also being environmentally responsible.


Then, I attended two separate sessions each focusing on how best to utilize plant based feedstocks to generate valuable chemical products. This was of particular interest to me because my undergraduate research focused on using non-food plant stocks in chemical synthesis. It was a wonderful opportunity to see how my peers were solving problems in chemical sustainability using approaches that were very different from my own. It was refreshing to experience firsthand the excitement and innovation in green chemistry that these scientists brought to their presentations.


Finally, I attended and presented my research at the poster session. The room booked for the posters to be displayed was nearly overflowing with scientists who displayed a genuine interest in the research being presented. It was interesting to see how the research posters complimented several of the talks earlier in the day. I was impressed by the outstanding quality of the posters presented and by the curiosity displayed by those attending the session.


Overall, I would say that this conference opened my eyes to interesting concepts that I had not considered but can be used to make chemical science more sustainable. I look forward to taking what I learned in Portland on to the next step in my career as a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern. I am certain that the ideas introduced here will have a profound impact on how I approach my research in the future.




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Co-sponsored by ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering in partnership with the ACS Division of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry


Nomination Deadline: August 1, 2016


The inaugural ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Lectureship awards will recognize and honor the contributions of three early career investigators from around the world who are doing exceptional research that impacts sustainability, green chemistry, or green engineering. The awards are intended to be global in scope, reflecting the global author base and readership of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. One recipient will be chosen from each of the following three regions: The Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Asia/Pacific.


The first ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Lectureship awards will be presented in a special symposium session of the ACS Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division at the 253rd ACS National Meeting in San Francisco, CA (April 2‐6, 2017) to honor the recipients. The Lectureship award winners will each receive an award plaque, $1,000 USD honorarium, and assistance with travel and lodging costs. Nomination Eligibility:


1) Nominees are eligible for one of the three awards based on:

a. The affiliation with a geographical region of their current home scientific institution:

(1) The Americas;

(2) Europe, the Middle East or Africa;

(3) Asia or the Pacific.

b. Being 10 years or less from initial academic appointment (for faculty members); or being 10 years or less from last professional training (e.g., Ph.D. or postdoc) for industrial and other nonacademic scientists.


2) Preference may be given to nominees who have published at least one article in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering and to nominees that are members of the Division.


3) Self‐nominations are permitted. Nomination Requirements:

  • Name, affiliation of nominee
  • Name and affiliation of nominator
  • Brief statement (1‐2 pages) describing the nominee’s specific accomplishments relevant to the nomination
  • List of 5 publications most relevant to the nomination
  • Nominee’s current CV
  • Letters of support (2 maximum in addition to the nomination letter)
  • It is strongly encouraged that at least one nominator or supporting letter writer be a member of the partnering ACS Division, I&EC.


To join, click here.


The selection committee will consist of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering editors as well as representatives from the I&EC Division.


The winners will be announced in early Fall 2016.


Nomination packages and questions regarding the lectureship should be sent to:




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The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) is pleased to be releasing a set of eight Reagent Guides. Like the Roundtable’s Solvent Selection Guide, which helps chemists choose better solvents, these eight guides will serve as a mechanism for scientists to choose reagents that will reduce the overall impact of their chemistry. Chemists have a limited set of reagents in their toolbox to effect chemical transformations, and many of these should rarely, if ever, be used.  These guides put a spotlight on which existing reagents are best and encourage the use of a select group of reagent.  Because the number of “better” reagents is few, the guides implicitly encourage chemists to continue to discover new reagents and chemistries that make synthetic chemistry more sustainable. While solvents do comprise the largest input to pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, reagents are essential components in chemical transformations and are critical to achieving greener chemistry.



Up until now, there has been nothing like this available to synthetic organic chemists whether they are in industry or academia.  On the website, users can explore a wide variety of fully-vetted reagents and discover how each performs in terms of industrially relevant utility, scalability and greenness. For each type of chemical transformation, a Venn diagram visually displays which reagents meet each of these three criteria and where the “sweet spot” for chemical transformation resides. This interactive guide makes it easier to start research and development with a green reagent rather than trying to later replace a more hazardous reagent with a less hazardous one.



The guides are available for use following a simple registration on  Additional guides are being developed and made available on the site only to GCIPR members and will be made available to the public after a period of exclusivity . The tool is intended to provide a balanced assessment of reagents, provide easy access to the chemical literature or procedures related to the reagents, and to raise awareness of emerging green chemistry methods.


The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable Reagent Guide is adapted from guides originally developed by Pfizer to be used by their medicinal and process chemists.  The idea was first published in 2008, and it has been expanded by chemists in many of the PRT member companies.


Commonly available tools developed by the ACS GCI Roundtables have a range of benefits; for example, they accelerate the rate at which scientists across companies, research labs, and the world can integrate green chemistry and engineering practices into their research, development and manufacturing activities, thereby delivering more sustainable products.  For the roundtable member companies, there is the potential to save resources through collaborating on the creation and maintenance of this and other tools.


Explore the reagent guides now.




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For its fourth year, the ACS GCI held a business plan competition as part of the 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference. There were four semi-finalists, all of which convened in Portland, OR to pitch their companies for the winning title and $10,000 grand prize. The teams were scored on their written business plans and final, in-person presentations.



The winner of the 2016 competition was Grow Bioplastics, a start-up firm improving the sustainability of agriculture by producing biodegradable plastic mulch films for the farming industry. Their technology uses lignin, a waste product from the paper and biofuel industry, to create a biodegradable polymer that can be used as a drop-in replacement for oil-based plastics. At the end of a growing season, farmers can plow these bioplastic films into the soil where they will break down naturally at a rate that the Grow Bioplastics team can actually tune based on farmers needs. This helps farmers alleviate their current need pay for labor and landfill fees to remove and dispose of conventional, non-biodegradable films from their fields, saving them at least $100 an acre.


The company was represented by Tony Bova, Grow Bioplastics’ Co-Founder and Polymer Chemist. Tony is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Energy Science & Engineering through the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Learn more about the winner on their website.




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Contributed by Michael Cann, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, The University of Scranton


Twenty years ago this July I was reading the abstracts for the fall 1996 ACS meeting in Orlando.  I came across two abstracts “The Green Chemistry Challenge” and “The 1996 Green Chemistry Challenge Award Program” both by Paul Anastas and Tracy Williamson of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As I read the abstracts I realized that this program could provide a great addition to the Environmental Chemistry course that I had to teach for the first time in the fall of 1996. I managed to track down Tracy and requested that she send me copies of the five winning proposals for the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge (PGCC) Awards as I wanted to incorporate them into this course. She thought that was a great idea.

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The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge began in 1996 and as of 2015 there are 104 awards.1 The awards are given in conjunction with the Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference (GC&E). Proposals are submitted to the U.S. EPA and are judged by a panel of experts convened by the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI). The chemistry must fit into at least one of three focus areas: 1) greener synthetic pathways, 2) greener reaction conditions, and 3) the design of greener chemicals.  Generally 5 awards have been given each year: one in each of the focus areas, one to a small business and one to an academic. As of 2015 a new award is now given for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA1, the applied green chemistry described in these awards has had a dramatic effect on the environment.


“Through 2015, our 104 winning technologies have made billions of pounds of progress, including:

  • 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents eliminated each year—enough to fill almost 3,800 railroad tank cars or a train nearly 47 miles long.
  • 21 billion gallons of water saved each year—the amount used by 820,000 people annually.
  • 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to air eliminated each year—equal to taking 810,000 automobiles off the road.”


The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge has not only had a large impact on the natural environment but also on education. For me, the PGCC winning awards provided a goldmine of material for infusion of green chemistry (GC) into the courses that I taught (the two semester organic sequence, graduate mechanistic and structural organic, environmental, general education chemistry, chemistry for the health sciences, readers in both undergraduate and graduate GC, and seminar). For my students, this opened up their minds to the world of sustainability and GC. Using real-world examples of GC illustrates how chemistry makes meaningful contributions to society without becoming a problem to the environment. Students invariably bring examples of GC/sustainability to class from the popular literature. Discussion of these examples often becomes the class discussion of the day. Whether they are science majors or not, students become much more engaged in discussions as they realize how chemistry impacts the world around them. It becomes apparent how chemistry is part of the solution to societal problems including the environment.


As educators we all take pride in the success stories of our students, and I am no exception. I had the pleasure of having Marc Connelly in my organic chemistry course in '97-'98, one of the first years that I incorporated GC into this course. Marc was a chemistry-business major, an excellent student, an excellent writer and very inclined to “think outside the box.” Marc and I wrote the first volume of Real-World Cases in Green Chemistry (based on 10 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners) in 1999. After graduation, I am proud to say, Marc went off to work in green chemistry at ACS. Eventually he left ACS to take an MBA and enter the world of finance.  More recently, I had the pleasure of working with Thomas Umile in many capacities during his student days at Scranton. If you read The Nexus on a regular basis you will remember Tom’s article from April 2016 describing his journey down the path of GC. In addition to working with Tom on the Real-World Cases in Green Chemistry Volume II3, Tom agreed to edit a book on catalysts for the book series Sustainability: Contributions through Science and Technology4. I will eagerly follow his progress as a faculty member at Gwynedd Mercy University. I know he will have a large positive impact on his students and the world of green chemistry. Others students have gone on to work and study with PGCC winners, and others have been hired in industry in part because of their exposure and knowledge of green chemistry.


In addition to teaching GC in the classroom I find that industries and the public are eager to hear how green chemistry can contribute to the cause of sustainability.


In order to thrive, companies realize that they must devise and execute a plan to infuse sustainability into their operations and communicate this plan to their internal and external stakeholders. My experience, having worked with industry, is that the PGCC award winning chemistries provide excellent examples to teach green chemistry to technical as well as non-technical personnel, and for industry to emulate. The wide range of chemistry found among the PGCC Award winners means that virtually any industry involved in chemistry can find examples of GC that are pertinent to their company.


We chemists not only need to be able to communicate with technical experts but also be ambassadors of chemistry to all. Although the public often has a negative view of chemistry, particularly the word “chemical,” I have found they are eager to see how chemistry can be part of the solution to environmental challenges, rather than as part of the problem. There are many examples from the PGCC Award winners that are immediately of relevance to Joe and Josephine Q. Public. They include topics such as recyclable carpeting, ibuprofen and other drugs, trans fats, dry cleaning, pesticides, paints, plastics and cleaning products. Chemists for too long have not paid enough attention to the environmental consequences of what we do, and our public image has paid a price –let’s change that!


The two decades of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards not only provide a plethora of information for bringing green chemistry into the classroom but also for giving public lectures, and examples for industries to study and emulate. Green Chemistry is chemistry that we can all live by and learn form.5


  1. The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge
  2. EPA: Information About the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge
  3. Real-World Cases in Green Chemistry Volume II
  4. Sustainability: Contributions through Science and Technology
  5. Abstracts of all the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award Winners




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Two U.S.-based students have received the 2016 Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award, presented by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI). Each recipient receives $1,000 USD. The award was formally presented at the 20th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference held in Portland, Oregon, July 14-16, 2016.


This year’s recipients are Jesse Vanderveen and Austin Evans.


Austin Evan's research, titled “A Sulfur-Limonene Polysulfide Synthesized Entirely from Industrial Byproducts and Its Use in Removing Toxic Metals from Water and Soil”, is to devise sustainable methods to synthesize and supply polymers.Evens is a recent graduate from the University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.




Jesse Vanderveen’s research, titled “Switchable Hydrophilicity Solvents: Benign alternatives to volatile organic solvents for syntheses, extractions, and separations”, is to identify SHS with desirable properties related to performance as well health, safety, and environmental impact. Vanderveen is a rising senior at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Evens and Vanderveen both received the Hancock Award during the Welcome Reception at the 20th Annual GC&E Conference.


If you are interested in applying for the Hancock Memorial Fellowship or another green chemistry award, please take a look at the ACS GCI awards page for application deadlines and details.




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Albemarle (ALB) Acclaimed for Green AlkyClean Technology

June 15, 2016 | Yahoo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in collaboration with the American Chemical Society, presented Albemarle Corporation ALB and its technology partner, Chicago Bridge & Iron Company N.V. CBI, with the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award on Jun 13, 2016.


SUNY Oneonta Chem Prof Named ‘Inventor of the Year‘GC+News+Roundup.png

June 13, 2016 | Allotsego SUNY Oneonta

Associate Professor of Chemistry Jacqueline Bennett was named “Inventor of the Year” by The Eastern New York Intellectual Property Law Association for her contributions in green chemistry, most notably “Green Synthesis of Aryl Aldimines Using Ethyl Lactate,” a chemical process for which she received a U.S. patent in 2014.


Green success stories: The 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

June 13, 2016 | C&EN

Few people could argue that using vegetable oil instead of crude oil, replacing platinum catalysts with iron, or avoiding the use of billions of liters of toxic and corrosive acids in petrochemical plants isn’t a good deal.


EPA Honors Winners of the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

June 13, 2016 | EPA

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


Dow Receives Its 10th Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award

June 13, 2016 | Business Wire

Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) is the recipient of a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its Instinct® nitrogen stabilizer. Instinct was recognized this year for helping farmers protect their crop yields as well as the environment by keeping nitrogen in the root zone.


Queen's Birthday Honours: SA Scientist, Musical professor, Broadcaster Among Those Recognized

June 12, 2016 | ABC AU

Professor Raston has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to science through seminal contributions to the field of chemistry as a researcher and an academic.




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Contributed by Al Kaziunas and Rolf Schlake of Applied Separations


Organic solvents used in chemical processes have enormous environmental and economic costs. They contribute to health problems, adversely impact the environment, are flammable, contribute to smog formation and are eco toxic. The elimination of hazardous organic solvents and the search for useful non hazardous solvents is a prime goal of green chemistry. CO2 as a liquid or supercritical solvent meets many of the characteristics of an ideal green solvent. Capture.PNG

CO2 used as a solvent is recovered as a by-product from various industrial processes including fermentation, cement, and fertilizer manufacturing sites. The CO2 generated is purified, compressed and cooled to the liquid state at 20 bar and -20C and stored or transported in insulated bulk containers for reuse in many liquid and supercritical CO2 processes.



The properties of CO2 are well known and can be exploited for many useful scientific purposes and industrial processes. For example, the density of supercritical CO2 can be changed dramatically by small changes in the pressure or temperature around the critical point. CO2 viscosity is very low and the surface tension of supercritical CO2 is nonexistent. Diffusivity is high, which in combination with low viscosity induces significant changes in condensed phases.


Also, supercritical CO2 influences the properties of components with which it is mixed. For example, supercritical CO2 can dissolve many non polar compounds far beyond its vapor pressure. Also, a significant amount of supercritical CO2 can dissolve into condensed phases drastically reducing the surface tension and viscosity of the condensed phases making processing of viscous materials easier.






The following applications cover some of the areas where the properties of CO2 can be exploited and used productively in green applications.



Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) of a solid material is carried out by pumping supercritical CO2 through a fixed bed of solid substrate. The supercritical CO2 flows through the fixed bed and dissolves soluble components until the substrate is depleted. The loaded solvent is then directed to a separator where the soluble components are precipitated by reducing pressure and temperature. The CO2 is condensed and recirculated.


Extraction of Solid Natural Products

Supercritical CO2 has the ability to diffuse into solid particles and dissolve many valuable non polar molecules. Examples of existing CO2 extractions include:

  • Decaffeination of coffee and tea
  • Defatting of cacao
  • Production of extracts from hops
  • Oil from sesame seeds
  • Extraction of pesticides from rice


Countercurrent Separation of Liquid Natural Products

Countercurrent separation of low volatility components of a liquid material can be carried out in a packed column with supercritical CO2. Counter current extraction using supercritical CO2 is an alternative to vacuum distillation and short path distillation. This process is carried out at moderate temperatures and avoids thermal degradation of sensitive components. Some examples are:

  • Enrichment of natural tocopherols from edible oil deordorizer distillates.
  • De-oiling of raw soy lecithin


Supercritical Drying, Cleaning, and Degreasing Supercritical

CO2 has no surface tension and can easily penetrate micro pores that are not accessible to liquid solvents. This characteristic is useful for drying or cleaning of many porous materials including:

  • Liquid/Supercritical CO2 drying of aerogels (removal of ethanol)
  • CO2 cleaning of semiconductor residues
  • CO2 replacement of ozone depleting cleaning solvents
  • Residual solvent stripping from pharmaceuticals


Impregnation with Supercritical Fluids Supercritical

CO2 may also be used to deposit or impregnate materials with soluble components. The low viscosity and high diffusivity of supercritical CO2 allow rapid penetration into solid materials. The small supercritical fluid molecules diffuse into leather, wood, polymers and other porous material carrying dissolved components. The components remain in the porous solid upon depressurization of the CO2. Some examples include:

  • Deposition of dyes into polyester
  • Deposition of fungicides into wood
  • Deposition of pharmaceutical compounds into polymers


Particle Formation
Carbon dioxide may be used to form nanoparticles by many different techniques. Generally compounds that are soluble in supercritical CO2 may be depressurized through a nozzle or restrictor into an atmospheric chamber. The rapid expansion of the supercritical solution results in the nucleation and formation of many small particles. This technique is known by the acronym of RESS (rapid expansion of a supercritical solution).


Many pharmaceutical compounds are not soluble in supercritical CO2 and can only be dissolved in a polar organic solvent. The ability of supercritical CO2 to dissolve significantly into a polar organic solvent and expand the volume of the solvent 10 fold reduces the solubility of dissolved compounds and initiates precipitation of the previously dissolved particles in the expanded solvent. This CO2 antisolvent technique is generally described as Gas AntiSolvent or GAS. Many variations of the antisolvent technique are available using specific nozzle configurations and solvent introduction techniques.



Supercritical CO2 is a unique solvent that has the characteristics of variable density, low viscosity, and high diffusivity.  The manipulation of these characteristics has led to numerous applications of this green solvent in diverse areas including extractions, impregnations, particle formation, and cleaning.



    1. Brunner, Gerd. "Applications of supercritical fluids." Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 1 (2010): 321-342.
    2. Jessop, Philip G., and Walter Leitner. "Supercritical fluids as media for chemical reactions." Chemical Synthesis Using Supercritical Fluids (1999): 1-36.



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Whoa! Congress Agrees on Chemical Safety


June 9, 2016 | Courier Journal

This week, there's a new chemical safety bill that President Obama is expected to sign, and believe it or not, it was a product of Republicans and Democrats alike, as well as environmental and industry groups.


A New 'Green' Molecule Leaves Ca' Foscari for Laboratories all over The World

June 8, 2016 | PHYS

A molecule developed and synthesized at Ca' Foscari University of Venice has been made available to laboratories all over the world. Named after the Ca' Foscari researchers who discovered it, the "Perosa-Selva-Noè vinylation reagent" molecule is now listed in the Sigma-Aldrich catalogue, the world's leading supplier of R&D chemicals.


A New Molecular Toolkit for the De-Novo Design of Bioactive Agents

June 7, 2016 | Nanowerk

Nature provides mankind with a wide variety of valuable bioactive agents ranging from vitamins over vital fatty acids to cancer inhibiting substances.


Latest Bionic Leaf Now 10 Times More Efficient than Natural Photosynthesis

June 6, 2016 | Gizmag

Researchers at Harvard have developed a more efficient version of the bionic leaf, which can turn sunlight and water into electricity and liquid fuels.


Samsill Produces the World’s First Certified Bio-Based Ring Binder using Braskem's Green Plastic

June 6, 2016 | Sustainable Brands

The company is incorporating bio-based plastics and post-consumer recycled paperboard into their new and improved Earth’s Choice product line


Biomass: Chemistry's new Eldorado?

June 6, 2016 | CNRS

Why not use organic waste from domestic refuse to make tomorrow's cosmetics and plastics?


Fermentation Chemicals Market Analysis By Product (Alcohols, Enzymes, Organic Acids), By Application (Industrial, Food & Beverages, Nutritional & Pharmaceuticals, Plastics & Fibers) And Segment Forecast To 2024

June 2016 | Grand View Research

Huge demand for fermentation chemicals for ethanol & methanol production to satisfy demand from various industrial and chemical applications is anticipated to propel the fermentation chemicals demand.




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The Golden Age of Green Chemistry

June 2, 2016 | Lab News

As more and more laboratories and companies embrace the principles of green chemistry, chemists and engineers can make an enormous difference to humanity’s quality of life.


Precious Metals: A Resource Worth RecyclingGC+News+Roundup.png

May 31, 2016 | Investor Intel

Precious metals are among the most valuable of Earth’s resources.


Industrial research: Drug companies must adopt green chemistry

May 31, 2016 | Nature

In the past decade, many large pharmaceutical companies have moved to using green-chemistry practices for drug discovery, development and manufacturing.


Green Chemistry for Life Grants Awarded

May 31, 2016 | Chemistry International

The event took place during the 4th UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board Meeting and the Congress of UNESCO Chairs in Saint Petersburg.


Autodesk & UC Berkeley reveal three approaches to more biofriendly SLA 3D printing materials.

May 27, 2016 | 3ders

A team of Autodesk researchers and dedicated UC Berkeley students has released a report outlining three key approaches to improving the safety and sustainability of SLA 3D printing materials by asking “what would nature do?"


The Importance of Green Chemistry Education at the Undergraduate Level

May 30, 2016 | The Green Chemistry Initiative Blog

In industry, the synthetic route taken to make an intended product is not as important as having the end goal safely and effectively met.




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Contributed by Faiza Rasheed, Department of Plant Breeding, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden


With the much advocated issue related to limited fossil fuel resources in future and the deleterious impacts of fossil fuel derived products on environment, there is an increasing attention towards the development of ‘’sustainable products’’ in many areas such as plastics, elastomers, chemicals, and more. How can we meet this increasing demand when natural resources are limited? It could be done by developing new sustainable production methods by using existing machineries or even with  nature’s own ‘’green machineries.’’


In our recent study led by Prof. Eva Johansson in the Dept. of Plant Breeding, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, we used ‘’green machineries,’’ i.e. wheat plants as biochemical modifiers. The properties of protein, a biopolymer, were modified by the use of biological and environmental factors such as genotype, cultivation temperature and availability of fertilizers (Fig. 1.).figure1.jpg The method provides a simple and sustainable design that can be employed on a broader scale to modify different polymers that are naturally synthesized by plants. These polymers could potentially be used to produce various products such as plastics, packaging materials, biofuel, dyes, etc. in order to replace certain petroleum based products. For instance, the protein polymer produced in our study was used to make plastic films (Fig. 2), and a unique combination of strength and elasticity was achieved in these films which are much needed properties for today’s packaging industry. In our method we used the plants to modify and strengthen the wheat gluten proteins in natural way without the need for synthetic chemicals. Furthermore, proteins offer a broad range of chemical diversity as their composing units, amino acids, are diverse with respect to configurations and chemical functional groups. This means that they offer a large spectrum of chemical versatilities to fine-tune the properties of end-use products.


In our study we tuned the structure of gluten proteins with genotype and environmental interaction and also extracted gluten in a milder way, avoiding solvents and high drying temperature which preserved the native structure of gluten. The pristine gluten structure resulted into hierarchal nano-structural arrangements which were not observed before for gluten that has been modified into films. We carried out the nano-structural characterization together with Dr. Tomás S. Plivelic at MAX IV Laboratory, Lund, a Swedish national laboratory with the most brilliant X-rays for research. Our study helped to model a relationship between the nano-structure of gluten from various genotypes and environmental interactions and resulting mechanical properties such as strength, stiffness and elasticity of films.


There is an on-going public and political debate related to the use of agricultural raw materials for the production of bio-based materials because there is some concern about chemical products competing with the food supply. While this debate may seem insurmountable, this issue must be addressed in a sensitive way as the facts are very different from popular belief. People have been using agricultural raw materials for the production of bio-based materials for a very long time. The issue is not the shortage of food or shortage of land for food production. The real issues are food distribution, logistics and customer purchasing power.


There are still huge unused arable areas that can be used to produce more food as well as efficient agricultural raw materials without any harmful Figure2.jpgimpact or insecurity of supplies to the food sector. Using the arable land areas for industrial materials will not only reduce the environmental concerns related to fossil fuel derived products but will also raise the economic values of crops with a positive impact on the future bioeconomy. The question should not be which crops should be used for food and which ones for material production. Rather, it should be which crop is more sustainable, efficient and could contribute best to the bioeconomy for both the food and industrial use.


Using inefficient non-food crops for industrial uses will be an inefficient use of arable lands. There are also other ways to develop sustainable products from bio resources such as by the use of biotechnology and bioreactors to produce biopolymers at

massive scale. To me, efficient production and utilization of agricultural raw materials to derive “green products” can become a real game-changer as they show the potential of solving some large-scale problems related to fossil-fuel derived products.








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