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Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog

154 Posts authored by: ACSGCI

Dates: June 14-16, 2016

Location: Portland, Oregon at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower

Submission Deadline: October 16, 2015

Notification of acceptance by: November, 2015


The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) will hold its 20th annual scientific meeting June 14-16, 2016 in eco-city Portland, Oregon. The Green Chemistry & Engineering  (GC&E) Conference Advisory Committee invites the submission of proposals for symposia for presentation during this meeting.


The GC&E Advisory Committee requests that all proposals reflect ACS GCI’s mission to advance the implementation of green chemistry and engineering practices across the global chemistry enterprise. The overarching theme of the conference in 2016 will be Advancing Sustainable Solutions by Design. The committee will be looking for proposals which include perspectives from basic scientists, industrial scientists, business leaders, students, government, NGO, etc. Proposal submitters should creatively design their sessions to be highly interactive (e.g., facilitate lively discussion, include sufficient time for Q&A, rapid-fire sessions, workshop-based learning, debates, etc.).   Attendees should leave sessions with clear ideas for how they can use the information disseminated in the session in their professional careers.  Submitters are asked to describe how these outcomes will be achieved in the session and should provide potential speakers and/or topics of presentations.


The 2016 GC&E Conference Advisory Committee is especially seeking submissions which address the following topics:

  • DESIGN of more sustainable chemicals according to green chemistry and engineering principles
  • DESIGN of innovative chemical technologies
  • DESIGN of processes to increase efficiency and reduce waste
  • DESIGN of curricula and curricular materials to infuse green chemistry throughout education
  • DESIGN of materials for:

     o the built environment (e.g., homes, offices, manufacturing, etc.)

     o apparel and footwear

     o electronics

     o aerospace

  • DESIGN of novel approaches to:

     o collaborations between academia and industry

     o chemicals policy

     o green chemistry and engineering metrics / assessment methodologies


Proposals should include the following information, fields for this data are provided in the submission forms:

  • A brief statement describing the rationale/need for this topic at the GC&E meeting (500 words or less);
  • A description of the practice gaps that will be addressed during the symposium. This description should focus on how addressing these gaps will advance green chemistry and engineering in this area;
  • Proposed speakers (with affiliations), anticipated topics of presentations and proposed mix of invited and contributed presentations.
  • Plans/methods for creating an interactive environment during the session. Workshops and panel discussions are encouraged.

Please submit your symposia proposal to GCI@acs.org by October 16, 2015. All symposia submissions will be reviewed by the GC&E Advisory Committee and applicants will be notified of decisions in November, 2015.


If you have questions, please contact us at the email address above. We are looking forward to a stimulating event as we celebrate 20 years of bringing together a diverse scientific community to advance green chemistry and engineering research, education and sustainable technologies.


Kind regards, GC&E Advisory Committee




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Asia’s flagship Convention- “Industrial Green Chemistry World” (IGCW) is an ever growing global community of Industry leaders and Academia experts committed to forward and hand-hold the emerging field of “Green Chemistry & Green Engineering” among the burgeoning Indian Chemical Industry.


IGCW 2015 Full Logo.pngThe IGCW platform is recognized for bringing together key stakeholders of chemical fraternity (both Industry and non-industry) to deliberate on a common agenda of accelerating the implementation and industrialization of ‘Green Chemistry & Green Engineering’ practices into the Indian Chemical Industry. This December, Mumbai will witness the biennial convergence of 40 global experts, 400 senior executives and over 100 Research Scientists, Academicians and Students, participating in the 4th Industrial Green Chemistry World Convention, scheduled on 4th & 5th December 2015 at Hotel Courtyard Marriot, Mumbai.


The twin objective of this Convention is- one to highlight leading ideas that have stood the test of time and got transformed into successfully implemented ‘Green Chemistry &/or engineering’ based practices; and two to connect the right solution providers to the industry seekers.


IGCW-2015 promises yet another focused Industrial gathering to explore, engage-in and exchange- best practices, tools and technologies, which can make our chemical manufacturing processes environmentally benign, inherently safe and sustainably profitable.


4th IGCW-2015 aims to:

  • Facilitate an Industrial ecosystem to accelerate the implementation and industrialization of Green Chemistry and Engineering practices
  • Bring forth technical know-how of green chemistry applications from the corridors of laboratories to the cauldrons of Industry
  • Familiarize green chemistry not as a different genre, but as an integral way of doing chemical processes
  • Recognize emerging global trends in the direction of prioritizing sustainability and environmental safety
  • Express Industry’s commitment towards triple bottom-line benefits of Profit, Society and Sustainable planet
  • Connect various chemical community stakeholders
  • Create value for chemical companies by providing and seeking relevant services


The 4th IGCW-2015 Convention & Ecosystem provides an apt platform for solution and technology providers from across the globe to showcase their potential technologies, products and/or services to the Indian Chemical Industry seeking right partners for accelerating the implementation and industrialization of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering based practices in Indian Chemical Industry.


In this context, the 4th IGCW-2015 stands out as a timely opportunity for exploring new paradigms, new ways of collaborating and to showcase new products and technological solutions in the Green Chemistry and/or engineering direction.


For more details please contact Ms. Krishna Dave Padia : Krishna.padia@industrialgreenchem.com




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Message from Director

Posted by ACSGCI Aug 20, 2015

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


The 250th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society is rapidly drawing to a close. As always, I am appreciative that there has been a fair amount of green chemistry and related programming at the meeting, although I have to add that it is a challenge for me to get to all of these sessions with the broad array of activities on offer.


At first glance, there are only about 8 sessions that have green chemistry in their title and these are mainly in the Environmental, Chemical Education, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, and Organic Divisions. However, if you look past those sessions with green chemistry in the title, you find that there is a much larger number of sessions with talks that are clearly green chemistry-related.  The other Divisions not mentioned in the first group include the Physical Chemistry, Agrochemicals, Energy and Fuels, Society Committee on Education, and Chemical Information. I hope that all the divisions will continue to integrate some sustainable and green chemistry programming into their National Meeting Programming efforts.


During the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to review the ACS Student Chapter nominations for a green chemistry award.  All that’s required to win an award is to carry out 3 activities during the year that are, in some way, related to green chemistry. There were about 130 Chapters that submitted an application this year, so it took some time to go through all these and assess them. It is very exciting to read about all the things the student chapters are doing, and there are many excellent activities. One observation I will offer, however, is that there is great confusion between performing an environmental activity (e.g., picking up trash or starting a recycling program, etc.) and green chemistry. Environmental activities and environmental chemistry (e.g., a discussion about ozone depletion or climate change) are extremely worthwhile things for students to do, and these may inform why we want to do green chemistry, but they aren’t really green chemistry.


If, for example, the chapter took the fruits of its trash clean-up and analyzed it, thought about how to separate it, recycle it and reuse it all as starting materials/reactants, that would more likely qualify as a green chemistry activity.Or perhaps students might look at the plastic items and discover all the different types of plastic that are in what they have collected. Since most of it is likely to be water or other types of beverage bottles, they might investigate bio-based alternatives to polyester terephthalate and do a case study on the “Plantbottle” that Coke and others are working on.  The possibilities are literally endless. There are so many opportunities to integrate sustainability and green thinking into chemistry precisely because the way we practice chemistry is anything but sustainable.  I’d like to challenge the students to put a little more time into thinking about how chemistry can truly be a part of the solution to the world’s problems rather than accepting that the only way to do chemistry is the way chemists have been doing it for the past 100 or more years.


The next two days I will be participating in the Global Green Chemistry Centres (G2/C2) meeting being held at UMass, Boston.  This is an initiative started by Professor James Clark of York University, U.K., and there are now about 31 Centers located around the world.  Simply the fact that there are now 31 centers is a great indication of how green chemistry is being implemented around the world.  I find it very encouraging that this network has grown from just a few centers in 2013 to 31 in 2015, and I can see that it will continue to grow.  I am looking forward to hearing more about how the centers are implementing green chemistry practices in their Universities. It should be a very enjoyable meeting.

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






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For 20 years, the mission of the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) has been to catalyze and enable the implementation of green chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemical enterprise. Innovation in sustainable and green chemistry and engineering holds the key to solving many environmental and human health issues facing our world today. Thus, ACS GCI efforts focus on strategically promoting and advancing green chemistry.


The 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference (GC&E) will be held June 14-16, 2016 in Portland, OR. As the longest running green chemistry conference in the United States, GC&E invites scientists, decision-makers, students, and advocates to come together, compare findings, and discuss the science of the future. Speakers at our symposia are recognized as distinguished leaders and experts.


With three days of programming, the GC&E conference will feature 30 technical sessions, a poster session, green exhibit hall, and keynotes lectures. Special features include the GC&E Student Workshop held on June 13th, a Careers Workshop, and the 6th Annual ACS GCI Roundtable Poster Reception.


For the 20th GC&E conference, we’re looking for cutting edge research that’s tackling global challenges and advancing the field of chemistry. Broad championing themes that cover dynamic topics, from policy implications to helping people speak about chemistry in a common language.


More details on the submission process and when we will be accepting proposals for symposia for the 20th GC&E meeting coming soon! Be sure to keep an eye on www.gcande.org for 2016 announcements.


How can you help advance green chemistry in the 21st century?






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Contributed by Glaucia Mendes Souza, President of FAPESP Bioenergy Research Program BIOEN, University of São Paulo


Bioenergy is part of a larger transition to a bioeconomy in which bioproducts will be competing by means of efficiency and price. The last 5 years have seen an astounding number of new technological developments for bioenergy that increase its performance in the environmental, food and energy security nexus including improvement of livelihoods. A wide array of technological pathways in hundreds of chemical and energy industries is expanding and maturing. Technological change that reduces costs combined with full biomass utilization for food, feed, energy, materials and chemicals may create a competitive industry focused on reduction of emissions and stimulate economic growth.


Almost half of such biomass projects are in the US and Brazil, with many initiatives underway in Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and the UK, among others. The development of more efficient biomass conversion routes, especially routes that can convert lignocellulosic biomass into biofuels and biochemicals, will accelerate the transition towards a competitive biobased economy. Advanced biofuels have higher costs, compared to corn or sugarcane ethanol, typically related to pre-treatment and enzymatic hydrolysis processes and high cost of enzymes. Alternatives that could eliminate the need for enzymes such as ionic liquids pre-treatments can be expensive and require very high recovery efficiency for low cost products. Wastewater treatment when acid or base catalysts are present can also increase cost. Some pre-treatments require corrosion resistant materials, thus increasing capital costs. The conversion of soluble sugars to ethanol is limited by the tolerance of fermentative organism against inhibitors (e.g., furfural or 5-hydroxymethylfurfural) produced during pre-treatment and by contaminating organisms. The discovery of new detoxification methods and the development of more robust fermentative organisms are addressing this problem. In industrial conditions, current enzymes costs contribution to lignocellulosic ethanol is seven to ten-times higher than in the mature starch ethanol production. Costs are expected to decrease with increased operational time of industrial-scale plants and continued improvements in cocktails by enzyme manufacturers. Consolidated bioprocessing options are also in development.


Initial industrial scale operations of several lignocellulosic ethanol processes as first-of-a-kind plants started in 2013-2014. The positive outlook of advanced biofuels is conditional on accelerated deployment of whole supply chains, including harvesting, collection, baling, transport, drying, densification, storage and pre-treatment. Today there is an increasing awareness that sugarcane can be used for many applications, not only as a biomass feedstock for energy production but also for bioprocessing in a biorefinery into a wide range of chemicals including a variety of polymers. Life cycle analyses indicate that sugarcane would be highly competitive with other crops as a preferred feedstock for a biomass-based industry. Biorefineries that use wood are also underway.


The complex chemical makeup of wood (cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignins, pectins and extractives) makes it a good potential raw material to replace petrochemical-based fuels and chemicals. Integrated biorefinery systems that can produce fuels, chemicals, electricity, heat and other co-products are coming in many colors and formats. Hundreds of large-scale plants could be required to deliver energy in the scales needed, like power markets, while chemicals may not require as many. Urban centers may use flexible small-scale fuel production and some farm plants may be able to deliver multiple chemical products, changing our rural landscapes. It’s easy to imagine a completely different way of using land with multi-functional landscapes such as by substituting extensive inefficient pastures with integrated agro-forestry systems. Enough land is available that does not compete with our future food needs integrated food-energy systems possibly contributing to food security and energy access in developing regions.


Policies and energy prices are key drivers for current bioenergy and the emergent bioeconomy. As the bioeconomy is a promising but infant industry in most of the world, policies are needed to stimulate its development. Lessons learned on the implementation of biomass feedstock chains and conversion technologies have come a long way to decrease energy use, increase efficiency, decrease use of water and emissions. Regulation can deal with the indirect effects.


There is need for investment in advanced biosciences research-genomics, molecular biology, genetics and synthetic biology - for major platforms - sugar, syngas, methane and other bioproducts for fuels, including hydrogen, and chemicals. Over 70% of the costs of bioenergy are on the feedstock production side. Careful consideration is needed to define how best biomass is used, converted, scaled up and deployed to an appropriate level and in understanding the potential value of every single stream of organic matter - a no waste philosophy. The complete use of feedstocks must be sought to convert all primary energy content of the material to useful products. A new green revolution is on the way that includes not only increased yield and adaptation to the environment but also tailor-making biomass chemical composition to different applications including increased saccharification for second-generation biofuels and bio-based chemicals.


For more information please visit SCOPE Bioenergy & Sustainability




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A Hot Topic is Cool Pigments

Posted by ACSGCI Aug 18, 2015

Contributed by Mark Ryan, Marketing Manager, Shepherd Color Co.


Shepherd Color specializes in CICP (Complex Inorganic Color Pigments) that provide durable color in the most demanding applications where heat, chemicals, UV and weathering conditions make other pigments fail. These highly inert pigments also have a wide range of regulatory approvals for the most sensitive applications.


mixed colors.jpgA hot topic is cool pigments. Standard dark pigments absorb most of the sun’s energy. Since the sun’s energy can be roughly divided in half between the visible and the invisible n-IR, Shepherd Color’s Arctic® line of pigments help keep substrates cooler by reflecting the n-IR energy and selectively absorbing the sun’s visible energy for aesthetically pleasing colors. Shepherd Color’s experience with these applications has led to a ‘black rainbow’ of optimized IR-reflective black pigments with tailored properties for specific applications. For plastics applications Arctic® Black 10P923 is optimized for a jet masstone, Arctic® Black 10P922 is a balance of masstone color and tint strength in a blue-shade IR-black, Arctic® Black 10P950 provides the maximum tint strength in an IR-Black, while Arctic® Brown 10P895 is warmer in tone for natural looking building products. For coatings applications our Arctic®  Black 30C941 has IR reflectivity and our Dynamix easily dispersed feature. This rapid incorporation of the Arctic IR reflectivity feature into new coatings products such as cool roofing found in EPA Energy Star program, USGBC LEED and other building codes and standards. Reducing the solar energy absorbed by a roof reduces the heat that a building’s HVAC system has to deal with. This reduces energy usage- especially peak energy demand- and carbon dioxide release from power generation. A cooler roof also transfers less energy to the air around a building which reduces the urban heat island effect.


All of these products have better performance in n-IR reflectance based on Shepherd Color’s 30+ years’ experience in developing this pigment technology and have the inherent stability that provides long-term durability.


yellow and orange.jpgShepherd Color continues to bring innovation to the market and expand the durable color envelope in the critical yellow color space with the two pigment chemistries of NTP Yellow (Niobium Tin Pyrochlore) and the RTZ Orange (Rutile Tin Orange). The Shepherd Color’s NTP Yellow 10P150 product is a high-performance alternative in plastics to lead chromate yellow in the middle-yellow color space. It has the highest heat stability for use with engineering polymers where even pigments like bismuth vanadate yellow struggle. The RTZ Orange 10P340 combines the highest redness value and durability of any pigment in its class on the market.  In coatings, the NTP Yellow 30C152 provides opacity and durability not found in any other pigment. No longer is there a compromise between the chromaticity of organic yellow pigments and the lower chromatic but durable inorganic pigments.


RTZ Orange is a high-durability and heat-stable true orange-shade pigment that provides a way to add redness to colors based on other yellows like bismuth vanadate and NTP Yellow, all without the loss in chromaticity found with other inorganic pigment blends.  Together, the NTP Yellow and RTZ Orange allow high-durability and all inorganic pigmentation options for colors like Signal Yellow RAL 1003. The NTP Yellow is a brand new patented chemistry and the most impactful new high-performance pigment since DPP red was introduced.


A hallmark of the CICPs is their inherent stability in a wide range of solvents and chemicals, including acids and bases. Because of this inertness they have a wide range of approvals around the world for use in sensitive applications like food packaging.




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Contributed by Dr. Gary Spilman, Principal Scientist, Resinate Materials Group®.


Environmental, health and safety concerns continue to drive rapid growth for environmentally friendly, low VOC coatings. This growth, further compounded by increased social awareness of mega trends such as depleted finite resources, the growing world population, and constrained food resource, has companies seeking highly sustainable feedstock solutions. Although bio-based materials have provided feedstock options which are more sustainable than fossil petroleum alternatives, use of recycled content has remained relatively unexplored. With this in mind, Resinate Materials Group® has developed proprietary technology, which allows us to create multi-functional coatings using recycled raw material streams, including recycled poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET).  By harvesting materials otherwise destined for landfills we are able to extend the lifecycle of valuable, finite resources. Furthermore, studies have shown recycled PET feedstock to have more favorable life cycle assessment scores than comparable fossil petroleum-based or bio-based PET feedstocks. By harnessing the inherent properties of recycled PET, Resinate® has been able to impart a unique balance of properties into a variety of functional polyols and coatings including excellent hardness, good flexibility, and good chemical and stain resistance, all while developing a highly sustainable feedstock option.


With the U.S. production of plastic bottles at an amazing 9.4 billion pounds in 2013, and the total plastic bottle recycling collection rate at only 30.9%, there is a wide gap in unclaimed, uncollected, and discarded plastic bottlesi. The math is staggering when one considers that the remaining 69.1% amounts to 6.5 billion pounds. Where is the unclaimed material going? Landfills and incinerators take in much of the excess.


We have markets and supply chains for recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, but this option is operating inadequately and competing with virgin material for demand. There is a need for other options to become available for used PET material to live a second life as high-performance polyester, which its pedigree supports. One such option for these materials is their incorporation into high-performance protective coatings for wood and metal. Through careful synthetic breakdown and reassembly their lives as durable, functional, tough, attractive coatings can be realized. This new use for materials which were previously harvested and discarded, will help create increased demand and reduce the overall amount that finds its way into a landfill or incinerator.


PET, which has been processed into bottles, already has a significant energy history and environmental footprint paid to that point.  With that impact and footprint already within the material, this recycled PET can reduce the need for creating additional impact, which would occur with the harvesting and processing of additional virgin petroleum-based feedstocks. We discuss here the means to reclaim used PET as a raw material in high performance coatings and the surprising results that accompany high incorporation of previously “spent” materials.


Starting with the recycled PET (rPET) stream, there are several parameters to consider when converting the bulk material into a useful form for coatings. The functionality and equivalent weight required for most coating polyols is not inherent in the rPET as supplied, so hydroxyl end groups need to be generated. This provides a handle for both secondary processing polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) and for final curing for thermoset coatings (melamine, isocyanurate, etc.).  Since PET is inherently semi-crystalline, it is also necessary to determine whether to preserve or eliminate this property. According to Schiraldi, et.al., ii“modifying substances” can be used to affect the properties and degree of crystallization, tune tensile and modulus properties, adjust the Tg and Tm, and modify barrier properties. Carefully selected comonomers can accomplish this while simultaneously contributing to other performance attributes. From the aromatic side, isophthalic acid (PIA) has become the most widely accepted modifier for packaging applications due to its relatively minor effect on the Tg, reduction in the crystallization rate but not in the ultimate level of crystallinity (at < 5 mol%), and improved barrier properties. iiiAdditionally, hydroquinone and 4,4’-bisphenol are known to accelerate crystallization rates over neat PET.


The introduction of long chain diols can impart desirable characteristics such as flexibility.  Polyols such as hexanediol, butanediol, and dodecanediol are good examples.  Polyethers such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) or poly(tetramethylene ether) glycol (PTMEG) are also good diol modifiers for flexibility.  This increase in flexibility may come along with substantial changes in Tm, Tg, and crystallinity.  As is true with many properties, opposing ends of the property spectrum must be balanced to maintain good overall performance in coating applications.  Additionally, in starting from mixed recycle streams of PET, there may be some unwanted color associated with prior use in packaging, and this may need to be eliminated for some coating applications.


Clearcoat layers designed as final topcoats for wood and metal substrates are normally colorless, and decolorizing rPET streams has become necessary for consistency.  A novel process has been established for reducing or eliminating color associated with recycle-grade bottle flakes, but it will not be discussed here.


A final note on the design of polyols relates to natural and bio-based modifications. These ingredients are also of high interest and may include many different acids or anhydrides such as adipic and succinic, and diols such as propanediol, ethylene glycol, and others.  Multifunctional intermediates such as pentaerythritol (Voxtar)iv are now being made through a renewable and sustainable bio-based process, and can provide needed hydroxyl functionality for coating applications. Of course, most all fatty acids are naturally-derived and can provide some level of hydrophobicity in the polyol when needed. Polyether polyols have also found some level of “green” with alkoxylated hydroxyl-functional natural oilsv and epoxidized methyl oleate polyether polyols. viResinate’s® corporate philosophy with respect to green chemistry is to use recycle content raw materials first and biorenewable content second. If performance requirements set by our customers can't be met or exceeded with these first two options, only then do we use petroleum content raw materials or ingredients. This approach leads to the highest “green” content possible in the final polyol.


With the motivation to take advantage of all performance properties of PET, our company has developed new polyols from recycled PET that have demonstrated superior performance for coating applications. Resinate® polyols, when tested against conventional specialty polyols, clearly show desirable performance in the most popular wood and metal coating test categories.  Hardness, flexibility, toughness, strength, and chemical resistance are all benefits Resinate® has taken from materials that have been previously spent for their designed purpose. The polyester material is waiting to be re-engineered for a new life as a coating. Resinate® is acquiring the performance data and design feedback from its process and composition variables to meet and exceed the needs in the coating resin sector with a high metric for sustainability.


About Resinate®


Each year, millions of tons of used petroleum and other products are deposited in landfills, and whatever further use they might offer is lost. Resinate® recaptures those products as raw materials, turning waste streams into high-performance polyol solutions. We develop innovative ways to divert landfill waste, extend the life of finite resources and upcycle used molecules into high-performance polyester polyols — the backbone of coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers, foams and lubricants. For more information, visit www.resinateinc.com.


i2013 U.S. National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report; The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers; American Chemistry Council, 2014.

iiSchiraldi, D., Scheirs, J., & Long, T. (2003). New Poly(ethylene terephthalate) Copolymers. In Modern Polyesters (pp. 245-265). John Wiley and Sons.


ivSvensson, C. (2011, March 29). Discover Voxtar™, world’s first renewable pentaerythritol platform, and more Perstorp sustainable solutions. Retrieved December 1, 2014.

vJack Reese., Stanley Hager., Micah Moore. (2012). US20140024733 A1. Pittsburgh, PA: United States.

viLligadas, G., Ropnda, J.C., Galia, M., Biermann, U., Metzger, J. O., J. Polym. Sci. Part A: Polym. Chem., 2006, 44(1), 634-645.




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Contributed by Michiel Dusselier, PhD, Dr. Joseph Breen Memorial Fellow, 2013. Postdoctoral researcher at Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, Faculty of Bioscience engineering, KU Leuven, Belgium


The popularity of bioplastics - defined as being either partially biodegradable or renewable, or both - is on the rise not just from an academic perspective, but also from an industrial one. Numbers published last year predict that the global production of bioplastics is to grow 300% by 2018. Aside from drop-ins bio-polyethylene and bio-PET, polylactic acid, or PLA, is the major synthetic bioplastic out there, taking up about 11% of the global production capacities. PLA is 100% renewable and, given the right conditions, biodegradable. Next to the high potential of this thermoplastic in an impressive range of applications (packaging, textiles, fibers and foams), PLA is a promising alternative for polypropylene, polystyrene and even PET in certain markets. Moreover, the polymer is perfectly suited for 3D printing as well as for in vivo application due to its biocompatibility. In spite of the environmentally benign performance of PLA in life cycle assessments, the major bottleneck preventing a larger scale breakthrough is the high production cost.


One of the main cost factors at play is the synthesis of lactide. To transform lactic acid, derived from sugar fermentation, into lactide, a two-step process is followed: first, a low quality PLA plastic (pre-polymer) is made that, in a second step, is broken down again to yield the lactide building block (cfr. red route in the scheme). That building block is then polymerized to give a good quality PLA plastic. Part of the lactic acid feedstock is wasted in this process, as the process and its conditions (high temperatures and costly vacuum pressures) induce side-product formation and a degree of unwanted racemization. The side-products also infer the need for additional purification steps before the lactide building block is pure enough for polymerization to PLA. In essence, the current route presents a detour that could be more feedstock-, energy- and time-efficient.zeolite catalysis.png


With the principles of green chemistry in mind, we set out to introduce a re-usable, heterogeneous catalyst and to aim for the direct synthesis of lactide from lactic acid. We succeeded and developed a one-step catalytic process that converts lactic acid with a zeolite under solvent reflux with water-removal. The new process has many advantages: it allows a step to be skipped, runs at milder conditions (e.g. atmospheric pressure) and has minimal side-product formation and no racemization. The purity of the building block is very high, eliminating the need for excessive purification. The process is theoretically waste-free, as the few side-products formed can be easily recycled to the reactor and the zeolite is reusable. Although the introduction of a solvent could be seen as disadvantageous, it is a perfect bridge between the selectivity of the chemical reaction and the follow-up lactide isolation: a single liquid/liquid extraction with water on the reactor outlet yields a 98% pure lactide in the solvent that can be crystallized with solvent recycle.


zeolite catalysis2.pngThe key to the invention - to the ‘shortcut’- is that we use the zeolite catalyst to speed up and guide the reaction in the right direction (away from side-products). Zeolites are microporous minerals, with active centers only accessible via a network of sub-nanometer pores. Lactic acid can easily get in, is transformed into the building block, which easily gets out again. The side products are larger and can simply not be formed in these pores. This concept of steering the reaction outcome with spatial restriction is known as ‘shape-selectivity’ and is used in refineries and petrochemical plants every day to make our daily fuels and chemicals. We have thus applied a petrochemical concept to bioplastics production.


Back in 2010, we delivered the first proof-of-concept of this catalytic process. After that, we faced a difficult question:  to pursue commercial relevance and IP generation, or immediate valorization through publication? We decided in favor of the first, since after all, from an engineering point of view, you hope to actually change or improve something in real life and not just on paper. After a couple of years of embargo, during IP generation and its transfer to an interested company (studying up-scaling options), we were still able to go public with the process, and have since successfully published in Science.



These developments render me hopeful that they exemplify the value and applicability of green chemistry and catalysis research, here deployed in the field bio-based polymers. I hope that our invention will lead to a cheaper and greener PLA production, as well as inspire people to continue their efforts in green chemistry R&D.


The article, “Shape-selective zeolite catalysis for bioplastics production” was recently published by  M. Dusselier, P. Van Wouwe, A. Dewaele, P. A. Jacobs and B. F. Sels, in Science 2015, vol. 349.


I was a Joseph Breen Memorial Fellow in 2013, and I attended the 17th Green Chemistry and Engineering conference in Bethesda, MD.


The work I submitted for this fellowship was carried out during the embargo for the lactide process. At that time, we looked into the synthesis of lactic acid and other alpha-hydroxy ester molecules with chemical catalysis from biomass sugars. Next to reporting on a bifunctional carbon-silica composite catalyst for lactate production from trioses (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, vol. 134), I looked into the formation of less common, but intriguing lactic acid look-alike building blocks. In the end, we showed the pathways needed to form these molecules through cascade catalysis. For certain applications of PLA, it would be desirable if some side chains in the polymer would be accessible for further tailoring its properties. We proved exactly that, by creating a co-polymer of one of these new building blocks with lactic acid via polycondensation and modifying the hydrophobicity of a surface coated with these polyesters (ACS Catal. 2013, vol. 3).Interestingly, the novel shape-selective process does not only work for lactide, but also for certain of these other alpha-hydroxy acids. Henceforth, the process provides an essential link between polymer chemistry - where the cyclic dimers (such as lactide) are the ideal starting point for polymerization - and biomass valorization research - where the production of alpha-hydroxy acids (such as lactic acid) is targeted.




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Contributed by Jim Brady, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Eco Chemical, Inc.


This year, the NFL will be recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl.  In preparation, the NFL has already set the wheels in motion for appropriate decoration of NFL fields across the US, including specification of field markings, colors, and paint choices. Eco Chemical’s line of TempLineCelebration colors were among the choices specified by the NFL to honor the Super Bowl's golden birthday.


TempLine developed the Celebration colors under guidance of the NFL. Like all TempLine field marking paints, these special colors have been formulated for use on both natural grass and synthetic turf without leaving a large environmental footprint.


DSC_2709.JPGAs Eco Chemical’s owner and President, Mark Cheirrett, explains, “Environmental stewardship is everybody’s responsibility. As a company, we strive to minimize our environmental impact in every aspect of our enterprise, understanding that we can't completely avoid it.”


Eco Chemical strives for sustainability in all of their product chemistry, manufacturing, and packaging choices, for all of their paint and stain products. All Eco Chemical products are water-based with little or no VOCs.  The company’s manufacturing processes are designed to reduce waste, including re-use of process and rinse water in efforts to reduce water waste to near zero. Virtually all of the company’s commercial market products are produced and sold as concentrates, reducing their carbon footprint in shipping. TempLine  Natural Grass Box Paint is sold in concentrated form and packaged in recyclable cardboard boxes, rather than plastic pails or disposable aerosol cans destined for landfills across the country.


Seahawks-remover.jpgExpanding the envelope of environmental consideration to include player health and safety, TempLine synthetic turf paints are designed to minimize paint build-up that can interfere with field play performance and safety. TempLine paints re-liquefy when removed to avoid leaving behind solid residue. TempLine removers are also water-based and effectively remove paint without chemical harshness, turf damage, or environmental harm.


The environmental benefits of TempLine have been formally recognized as well. In the past year, Eco Chemical has been the recipient of the National Pollution Prevention Award from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, and the Safer Chemistry Champion Award from the Washington State Department of Ecology.


For more information about Eco Chemical, visit their website at www.ecochemical.com.




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The 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference sparked an enthusiastic buzz around green chemistry education leading us up to the first education roadmap visioning workshop. The roadmap for green chemistry education project is a broad-scale, community-driven initiative to create common goals and a vision for the future of green chemistry, a field where there are currently many impressive but uncoordinated efforts. It will catalyze the implementation of steps to achieve that vision through engagement of a variety of sectors in the chemical enterprise.


In this September workshop approximately a dozen green chemistry experts and key stakeholders will discuss the focus, scope, and common goals for the roadmap project. Check out the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) education roadmap webpage for more information about who will be participating as well as an overview of the planned meeting agenda and contents.


If you’re a chemistry educator, please participate in the ACS GCI chemistry educator survey to help provide data on the current state of chemistry education as we build a green chemistry roadmap.


The survey is available here.




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Every year the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) awards students pursuing green chemistry and engineering research grants and travel funding to present their research at green chemistry and engineering conferences. This year, ACS GCI awarded four promising students the Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship and the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award.


2015 award winners.jpgThe Breen award is granted to students of all levels and early career scientists who demonstrate outstanding research or educational interest in green chemistry. Breen fellows receive financial support to participate in an international green chemistry technical meeting, conference, or training program. The 2015 winners are Lauren Grant, from South Orange County, California, an undergraduate chemistry student at the University of California Berkeley, and Zachary Wickens, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology.


The Hancock award provides national recognition and honor for outstanding student contributions which further the goals of green chemistry through research and/or studies. The award is presented in conjunction with the annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference which is typically held in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.


Two students were selected from a competitive group of applicants to receive the 2015 Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award.  Alan Medina-Gonzalez, a first generation Latino scholar and rising senior at Augsburg College, Minnesota, is pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry (ACS-Certified) with minors in mathematics and biology, and Leah Rubin Shen, who studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is pursuing Ph.D. in chemistry. When asked about her research, Shen summarizes, “I am studying new fuel chemistries that we hope can be used directly in [polymer electrolyte membrane] (PEM) fuel cells without the need for hydrogen generation in situ. Because these fuels have to react electrochemically in order to work, I study them under different voltage and current conditions to see how they behave.” Medina-Gonzalez states, “As an awardee, this will help me share my experience and knowledge of the research I conducted with the green chemistry community. To add, this will also enrich me with the importance of sustainability through multiple perspectives by other undergraduate and graduate research presentations.”


Shen and Medina-Gonzalez were both in attendance at the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, July 14-16, 2015, where they were awarded the Hancock Fellowship. To learn more about the ACS GCI Green Chemistry awards and the 2016 deadlines, visit here.




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The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable is seeking to fund a 1-2 year R&D program to address the roundtable initiatives in flow chemistry.  Areas of interest include, but are not limited to: photo redox chemistry, photochemistry, and biocatalysis in flow.


  • Proposals will be accepted from public and private institutions of higher education worldwide.
  • Up to three grants are to be awarded.
  • Each grant is limited to $50,000 for a grant period of 12 to 24 months.


Submissions must be a single pdf file submitted via email to gcipr@acs.org. Deadline for receipt of proposals is August 28, 2015 at 5 PM EDT.

Click here for more information and to download the RFP


Proposals not received by the deadline will not be considered. For additional grant opportunities, please visit our Research Grants & Awards page.Research Grants & Awards page.




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The 3rd Annual Symposium and Workshop of the Global Green Chemistry Centres


The two-day event will consist of a range of talks, networking sessions and focused discussions.


G2C2Boston.pngScientific breakthroughs:


Presentations from G2C2 members will provide short updates on their major research breakthroughs since our last meeting, and will give us a chance to meet our new network members.


Greening the supply chain:


This meeting will coincide with the end of the 250th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in Boston. This cross-over, and the thriving local scene, allows us to access a raft of industrialists throughout the supply chain, and gives us a focus for the workshop—addressing the challenges set forth by industry in greening supply chains. ...plus closed sessions for G2C2 Centre Leaders for focused discussions.


20th-21st August 2015 McCormack Hall, UMass Boston, USA http://g2c2.greenchemistrynetwork.org/


For more information, please contact:


Prof Wei Zhang UMass Boston wei2.zhang@umb.edu, Prof James Clark University of York james.clark@york.ac.uk, Katie Privett University of York katie.privett@york.ac.uk.


Registration fees: Standard: $300 Student: $150




Start Time: 8/20/15 1:00 PM EDT (America/New_York)

End Time: 8/21/15 2:00 PM EDT (America/New_York)

Location: Boston, MA

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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Want to get involved? Email gci@acs.org or visit the roadmap project website.


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




“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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