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Interested in learning more about green chemistry at New Orleans? You can find symposia on green chemistry and sustainability by searching the online program or mobile app, or by browsing Technical Sessions, click on Filter by Themes, check and apply green chemistry or sustainability.




This year marks the 20th anniversary of “Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice” by Paul Anastas and John Warner. This work identified twelve principles for practicing chemistry in a way that reduces or eliminates hazardous substances and waste. Its publication promoted greater awareness that chemists play a key role in creating a more sustainable future, and this message inspired, and continues to inspire, academic research and industrial application. We invite you to celebrate this anniversary in a full-day session in honor of Anastas and Warner entitled, “State of the Art: Two Decades of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.” Monday, March 19, a.m. and p.m. in Blaine Kern E, New Orleans Marriott


The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) is offering several opportunities to learn and engage at this Spring National Meeting:

  • Join a GCIPR workshop entitled “Essential Green Chemistry Tools and Techniques for Pharmaceutical Scientists,” that will equip practicing chemists and graduate students with practical tools, methods and metrics. The free workshop is Sunday, March 18, 1:30 -4:30 p.m. in Gallier B, Sheraton New Orleans. Space is limited. Register for the workshop in the meeting registration process, or email There is a small deposit required to secure your seat, refunded upon attendance of the workshop.

  • Join the GCIPR for a full day Wednesday to discuss continuous flow, green solvents, biocatalysis, novel high-throughput enabling technologies and more in an I&EC session on “Innovative Green Processing Technology & Chemistry” on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 8-11:45 a.m. and 1-4:05 p.m. in Louisiana II, Loews New Orleans Hotel.

  • As the market for biopharmaceuticals grow, so does the environmental footprint of their manufacture. The GCIPR Biopharma team has developed a Process Mass Intensity (PMI) tool for biologics and benchmarked environmental impact across companies. Learn more about this study in BIOT 80, “Mining data to improve environmental impact of biomanufacturing,” as well as comparative analysis of different types of manufacturing processes for a monoclonal antibody using PMI at Merck (BIOT 554), and GSK’s analysis of using the Carbon Footprint Calculator as an additional assessment tool at GSK (BIOT 456).


Want to learn how to integrated green chemistry into your ACS Student Chapter? Don’t miss the CHED session, “Green Chemistry Student Chapters: Stories of Success” on Sunday, March 18, 1:30 p.m. at Blaine Kern B, New Orleans Marriott Convention Center.


Join us to congratulate the 56 ACS Student Chapters who are receiving an award for their green chemistry activities at the Student Awards Ceremony on Sunday night.


Learn how you can integrating green chemistry into the curriculum, classroom, lab and student research activities. This CHED day-long session, “Green Chemistry Theory and Practice: Food, Energy, & Water Sustainability,” covers a range of successful examples and initiatives of interest to the community. Drop by Tuesday, March 20, 2018 from 8:30-11:40 a.m. and 1:30-4:45 p.m. in the Blaine Kern B, New Orleans Marriott Convention Center.


The fun never ends! Wednesday evening starts the ENVR session “Green Chemistry & the Environment” full of theoretical and experimental green chemistry research in biocatalysis, chemical engineering, toxicology and more. The session is Wednesday, March 21, 6 p.m. and Thursday, March 22 at 8:30 a.m. in Hall D, Ernst N. Morial Convention Center.


Don’t miss these special lectures:

  • ORGN: ACS Award for Affordable Green Chemistry: Symposium in honor of B. Frank Gupton & D. Tyler McQuade on Monday, March 19, 1 p.m., La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom C, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

  • There are three 2018 ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Journal Lectureship Award symposia:
    • I&EC: Symposium in honor of Fengqi You – Monday, March 19, 1 p.m. in Feliciana East, Loews New Orleans Hotel
    • CELL: Symposium in honor of Rafael Luque Monday, March 19, 8 a.m. in St. Landry, Loews New Orleans Hotel
    • CELL: Symposium in honor of Ning Yan – Tuesday, March 20, 8 a.m. in St. Tammany, Loews New Orleans Hotel


Last but not least, be sure to visit ACS GCI in the Expo, Booth #646

  • Come by and spin our prize wheel to win green chemistry swag and prizes!
  • Learn about the Design Principles of green chemistry and see how you can apply them to our studies, research and work.
  • Stop by the ACS store and pick up a green chemistry t-shirt, pint glass, endangered elements poster and more!
  • Follow @ACSGCI for live updates. Win prizes! Have fun! Learn more about green chemistry!

Rafael Luque, Professor, Departamento de Quimica Organica, Universidad de Cordoba, Spain


Mechanochemistry deals with chemical transformations induced by mechanical means such as compression, shear or friction. In mechanochemical processes, the energy required for the activation of chemical reactions is usually provided by mechanical force as similar to thermochemistry, photochemistry or electrochemistry where energy is provided by heat, light or electrical potential, respectively.


Importantly, the solvent often plays a key role in energy dispersion, dissolution/solvation and transportation of chemicals in conventional chemical synthesis. Mass and energy transport may also be hampered in solventless reactions. The efficient mixing process under ball milling or grinding can offer an effective way out of this problem, enabling the reactions between solids/powders or solidified reagents in solvent-free conditions.


Solventless, “dry milling” mechanochemical approaches, highly advantageous for certain applications, can also be replaced by “liquid-assisted grinding” (LAG) as bridging alternative to minimize the use of solvents in mechanochemical syntheses. In contrast to “dry milling”, LAG may offer advantages such as greater time efficiency, enhancing molecular mobility and can result in the discovery of new or improved reactivity and (nano)materials.


Mechanochemical processes have a number of relevant advantages as compared to conventional syntheses including 1) an inherently “greener” approach to conduct chemical/materials syntheses (solvent-free or solvent-limited); 2) improved energy efficiency and solvent use (up to 1000-fold reduction/improvement); 3) swiftness and remarkably faster than solution synthesis (allowing a rapid screening of synthesis conditions for materials and/or chemical reactions); 4) wider choice of starting materials and possibilities (e.g. cheaper and more environmentally friendly reactants); 5) high yielding and facilitating/avoiding purification/isolation steps.


In view of these relevant advantages, the potential of mechanochemistry is significant, not only in the design of advanced and new (nano)materials for applications in multiple fields (adsorption, catalysis, energy storage, sensing, etc.) but also in the promotion of chemical reactions (mechanocatalysis). Some relevant examples are given in the following sections.


Design of advanced (nano)materials


Mechanochemistry has already paved the way to the design of advanced and new functional (nano)materials which includes (but not limited to) perovskites, spinels, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), supported nanoparticles on porous materials, bionanoconjugates an electrodes/biosensors (i.e. laccase@TiO2@C) and many more. The possibilities are enormous and mechanochemistry was found to provide access to new structures, enhanced properties and improved activities in certain applications (e.g. catalysis).


Organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites are materials that have attracted significant attention due to their extraordinary optoelectronic properties with applications in the fields of solar energy, lighting, photodetectors, and lasers. The rational design of these hybrid materials is a key factor in the optimization of their performance in perovskite-based devices. These could be successfully synthesized using a highly efficient, simple, and reproducible solventless mechanochemical approach. Materials could be synthesized 1) in large amounts (multi-gram scale), 2) as polycrystalline powders with high purity, and 3) in a very short synthesis time (typically 10-30 mins). Three-dimensional (3D) (e.g. MAPbI3 and FAPbI3), bidimensional (2D) (e.g. Gua2PbI4) and one-dimensional (1D) perovskites (e.g. GuaPbI3) were reported, indicating also a unique flexibility of the mechanochemical step to provide access to different types of structures (Figure 1).



    Figure 1: Source 


Mixed spinel inorganic materials (e.g. MgFe2O4 and MgAl2O4 can be also synthesized in high yields, purity and short times of syntheses (15-30 mins) under solventless mechanochemical conditions. The mechanochemical approach provides a simple and efficient alternative to conventional methods to prepare spinels which typically employ large quantities of solvents (sol-gel, hydrothermal methods) or extremely high temperatures >1200ºC (combustion methods), illustrating the potential of this methodology. In addition to the green credentials of mechanochemistry, spinel materials obtained by this method were reported to be highly crystalline, homogeneous in shape and particle size and could be again obtained in large quantities (multi-gram scale) within a short processing time.


Similarly, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) comprising organic molecules linking transition metals to form a porous material network have been also synthesized using solventless mechanochemical methods, providing access to new structures (e.g. pillared MOFS from their metal oxides, new porous MOFs or quasi-MOFs, etc.). Apart from the different new structures that can be potentially designed by means of the mechanochemical approach, the green chemistry advantages of the mechanochemical methodology are also clear: a 30 min grinding with limited quantities of solvents (via LAG) at room temperature could replace a 24-48 h solvothermal synthesis (100-160ºC) using large quantities of solvents and 10,000 times more energy consuming (


Last, but not least importantly, bio(nano)conjugates have been recently developed using mechanochemical syntheses comprising redox proteins (e.g. horse hemoglobin) and magnetic nanoparticles for various relevant applications including the synthesis of carbon-based fluorescent polymers at room temperature (see Figure 2), electrochemistry and energy storage (!divAbst ract). In some cases, the utilized magnetic (and other non-magnetic systems) can also be effectively synthesized in a ball mill under mild reaction conditions (room temperature, solid-state reactions, solvent-free, typically in minutes).



Figure 2: Overview of the oxidative catalyzed polymerization of phenylenediamines.
Bottom images correspond to poly-o, m and pPDA (left image) and UV-irradiated poly-o, m and pPDA (365 nm), respectively. Source: 
Reproduced by permission of the Royal Society of Chemistry





In addition to the mechanochemical syntheses, the possibility to conduct chemical reactions using mechanochemistry (mechanocatalysis) also recently emerged as a promising alternative to promote a number of chemistries under mild and environmentally friendly reaction conditions. Stemming from the aforementioned advantages, oxidations, C-C coupling reactions, acid-based catalyzed processes (e.g. esterifications) and related others have been already reported to take place under mechanochemical conditions.



Figure 3: Mechanochemical/catalytic reactions: from reactants to products. Reproduced by permission of the Royal Society of Chemistry





Interestingly, biomass conversion was also successfully accomplished using mechanocatalysis, with examples of cellulose depolymerization to sugars and lignin deconstruction to valuable aromatics. This has a significant potential for further studies and its combination with a rational understanding of catalyst/process design will undoubtedly lead to important scientific advances in biomass conversion in future years.




From the beginning, this contribution has been aimed to provide an overview of the relevance and inherent advantages of mechanochemistry for multiple applications (materials design, catalysis, organic syntheses, biomass deconstruction, etc.). Reported results to date clearly illustrate the present and future potential and possibilities of mechanochemistry despite the relatively poor understanding of the phenomenon as such. Further studies are needed to be able to fully understand chemical, physical and structural changes taking place in mechanochemical syntheses (in-situ methodologies) to rationally design processes and methodologies based on such fundamental understanding. These studies will in any case complement nicely the burgeoning possibilities of mechanochemistry in various fields based on its inherent green credentials.

The Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference on Development & Deployment (ABLC) is next week, February 28-March 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. The ACS Green Chemistry Institute’s Biochemical Technology Leadership Roundtable launched at this event in 2016, and this year they are back to present a two-part symposium on new high performance chemical intermediates and new pathways to current platform chemicals.


The first part of the symposium will be on the topic of “New High-Performance Chemical Intermediates”. This symposium will highlight the opportunities and challenges of commercializing new platform chemicals.  Renewable feedstocks can be a rich source of novel molecules that can serve as alternative building blocks in the synthesis of intermediates currently relying on petrochemical supply chains.  Individual speakers and a panel discussion will address the potential benefits of such molecules as well as the technical, economic, and market challenges along the way to commercialization.  Featured speakers are Peter Kneeling, CBIRC; Darcy Prather, Kalion; Kim Raiford, Origin Materials; Stephen Croskrey, Danimer; and  David Constable, ACS GCI.


The second part of the symposium will be about “New Pathways to Current Platform Chemicals”. In this symposium, the production of current, high-volume platform chemicals from alternative, low-carbon feedstocks will be discussed. New conversion technologies have opened up a variety of waste resources for making chemical intermediates currently derived from petroleum. Such “drop-in” molecules have the potential to displace fossil resources in chemical manufacturing without impacting current production routes. The speakers will provide examples of new pathways, discussing both the benefits and the challenges of bringing such products to market. Featured speakers are Bryan Tracy, White Dog Labs; Laurel Harmon, LanzaTech; Terry Papoutsakis, University of Delaware; Greg Smith, Croda; and Barbara Bramble, NWF (panel moderator).


Find out more:



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Contributed by Abigail Giarrosso, Research Assistant at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute


As a sophomore chemistry major at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UMass Lowell), it was my time to take the chemistry major-specific organic laboratory course, a difficult and rigorous class. At the same time, I was working as a lab assistant at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) where I was learning about green chemistry and working on replacing the solvent methylene chloride in commercial paint strippers. As I learned more about green chemistry through my time at TURI, I became very interested in being involved in the green chemistry community. As a result, I went to the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) conference and I joined the nonprofit Beyond Benign. I learned about green chemistry from every source except my own university. I wanted to learn formally in class about green chemistry techniques and sustainable chemistry, but no courses were offered. As I thought back to my organic laboratory experience, I realized it would be a perfect opportunity to learn about waste reduction and using safer chemicals in hands-on lessons. I knew from my experience with the green chemistry community that places such as Gordon College had completely integrated green chemistry into their organic curriculum and so I was confident that finding safer experiments was feasible. I realized that this was an opportunity for awareness of sustainability and green chemistry to be formally taught at my school, making it easier for the next student to be informed and increasing awareness for future chemists.


I approached Dr. Jessica Garcia, the director of the undergraduate organic labs at UMass Lowell, and asked how she would feel if I tried to substitute some of the experiments for Organic Lab II with peer-reviewed, safer experiments. She was very enthusiastic about the idea because she was trying to do the same thing. So that is how came to take on helping “green” the organic labs as my senior thesis.


The project started in Spring 2016 with an initially straight-forward search to find safer replacements for the more complicated reactions. I found peer-reviewed articles on the Greener Education Materials for Chemists (GEMS) website on Diels-Alder, Wittig, and Michael and Aldol addition reactions. I also proposed that the experiments be conducted in microscale instead of miniscale to reduce the amount of waste generated. The highlight of the project was when I formally introducing green chemistry in class to the sophomore chemistry majors; covering what is green chemistry, why it should be important to them, and comparing and contrasting the previous and the new experiment in terms of safety.




#1: Replacing a Diels-Alder Reaction


The first experiment that we replaced was the Diels-Alder reaction from the textbook Gilbert and Martin, which creates the byproduct sulfur dioxide and utilizes the solvents xylenes and petroleum ether.1 The safer experiment that I found in a different textbook was atom economic, created no byproducts, and eliminated the use of harmful solvents by using water.2 Both experiments involved heating under reflux, but the green experiment refluxed for three times as long as the original experiment. The students seemed to understand the safety improvements of the experiment but complained about the experiment being boring due to the long reflux. The substitution was successful and demonstrated the green principles clearly.


#2: Replacing a Wittig Experiment


Two different Wittig reactions were chosen to replace the original Wittig experiment. The original experiment, again from the Gilbert and Martin textbook, involved a very hazardous Wittig reagent benzyltriphenylphosphonium chloride, used dichloromethane (methylene chloride!), and concentrated sodium hydroxide.3 Two greener experiments were chosen to demonstrate the concepts of stereospecificity and isomerization. Both are considered solvent-less reactions and use safer Wittig reagents, and only took about 15 minutes to complete each one.4 The only issue I had with this experiment was that it needed hexanes to triturate the product. I tried substituting hexanes with undecane (heptane was not available) and successfully removed the product, but the boiling point of undecane was too high to isolate the product with adequate purity. The students struggled to perform two experiments simultaneously and struggled with the small amount of product produced at microscale. Since the minor isomer of the reaction with benzaldehyde was not detectable with a 60 MHz NMR the experiment will be discontinued. The stereospecificity reaction with 9-anthraldehyde will be kept on the curriculum for the next year.


#3: Replacing a Michael and Aldol Addition


The replacement of the Michael and Aldol addition was not as successful as the previous two experiments. The original experiment was a good candidate for replacement because of its hazardous starting materials and it uses toluene as a solvent.5 The safer experiment was a solvent-less experiment that used safer reactants and eliminated the use of toluene. The experiment involved mixing the reactants together, which made a liquid, and grinding them with a mortar and pestle until a solid formed and then refluxing the solid to get the product. Sadly, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get my reactants into a solid. It became a very sticky paste, but not as the solid should have looked as described in the journal article. When I refluxed the paste, it did not result in the expected product. The students had a very similar experience to mine and the lab period consisted of 20 people furiously grinding paste. It was a good demonstration of how real research sometimes fails, but it was not a successful example of green chemistry.


Creating a New Organic Lab Experiment for Non-Majors


The second semester of my senior project Dr. Garcia and I wanted to create a new reaction that could introduce green chemistry in Organic I lab to other majors such as biology and chemical engineering that do not take the Organic II lab for chemistry majors. One experiment that could be replaced was the E1 dehydration of 4-methylcyclohexanol. The issues with this experiment was that the reactant and products had minor health issues and the reaction used concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acids. The driving force behind replacing this experiment was that the product has a strong, unpleasant odor. Our goal became to create a new E1 reaction that had a more pleasant odor and utilized reusable acid catalysts to replace the use of concentrated acids. Dr. Garcia came across the journal article “Unsaturated Hydrocarbons with Fruity and Floral Odors” whose structures could theoretically be made through an E1 dehydration and were known to have a pleasing smell.7 The simplest molecule in the paper was butylidenecyclohexane which was a possible dehydration product of 1-cyclohexyl-1-butanol or 1-n-butylcyclohexanol. We decided to see if the alcohols could be dehydrated using the standard concentrated acids, reusable K10 montmorillonite clay, and reusable amberlyst catalyst. The products were analyzed by gas chromatography, NMR spectroscopy, and IR spectroscopy.


It was found that all three proton sources did dehydrate both alcohols resulting in varying ratios of products since the E1 dehydration results in multiple products due to carbocation rearrangement. The concentrated acids produced two products, including butylidenecyclohexane. While the reusable catalysts had about four different products, including the desired product. Sadly, through the synthesis of standards and dehydration of the alcohols, it was found that the new reaction did not have a strong fruity and floral odor and had more of a gasoline smell. Although one of the product standards created by Wittig reaction had a wonderful fruity smell, it was never the dominant product of the dehydration. Due to the cost of the starting alcohols and the lack of improvement of the smell of the experiment, the new reaction will not be implemented in the Organic I Lab curriculum. It was found that the original dehydration of 4-methylcyclohexanol works with the reusable K10 montmorillonite clay, creating an opportunity to introduce green chemistry earlier in the undergraduate academic career. Other E1 dehydration reactions are still being investigated for a new experiment.


Overall, I am very proud to have brought an aspect of green chemistry to my school and I hope it will inspire other faculty members to look at their own teaching lab experiments to reduce waste and hazardous materials. Although I am graduating, Dr. Garcia is looking for other students who are interested in creating new, safer experiments for the UML teaching lab.



  1. Gilbert and Martin. Experimental Organic Chemistry: a miniscale and microscale approach, 5th edition, 261-268.
  2. Pavia, D.L.; et al. A Small Scale Approach to Organic Laboratory Techniques, 3rd edition, 400-411.
  3. Gilbert and Martin. Experimental Organic Chemistry: a miniscale and microscale approach, 5th edition, 421-426.
  4. Nguyen, K. C.; Weizman, H. Greening Wittig Reactions: Solvent-Free Synthesis of Ethyl trans-Cinnamate and trans-3-(9-Anthryl)-2-Propenoic Acid Ethyl Ester. J. Chem. Educ., 2007, 84 (1), 119-121.
  5. Gilbert and Martin. Experimental Organic Chemistry: a miniscale and microscale approach, 5th edition, 625-630.
  6. Pavia, D.L.; et al. A Small Scale Approach to Organic Laboratory Techniques, 3rd edition, 324-326.
  7. Anselmi, C.; et al. Unsaturated Hydrocarbons with Fruity and Floral Odors. J. Agric. Food. Chem., 2000, 48, 1285-1289.



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Contributed by Mary M. Kirchhoff, Ph.D., Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®; Executive Vice President of Scientific Advancement, ACS


The green chemistry community lost a friend with the passing of Ken Seddon on January 21.  Ken's stellar science, coupled with his strong opinions and kind heart, made him unforgettable (as did those muttonchops!)


I first met Ken in 1999 at the Green Chemistry Gordon Research Conference in Oxford. I knew Ken by reputation but did not meet him until I was waiting for a taxi at the Oxford train station. I noticed Ken's luggage tag, and exclaimed, “You're Ken Seddon!” He acknowledged the veracity of my statement and we agreed to share a ride to campus. When the cab pulled up, the driver began loading passengers from the rear of the line.  In a classic Ken maneuver, he slammed his hands on the bonnet of the car and shouted, "The front of the queue is over here!" The taxi driver quickly realized the error of his ways.


Ken could be intimidating; when I told him that I was glad to be on his good side, he replied, "No one wants to be on my bad side!" He was a wonderful listener and provided me (and many others) with comfort, support, and words of wisdom during difficult times. He told me on more than one occasion that he had the soggiest shoulder in Belfast.


I had the gift of a five-day visit with Ken in December. Ken continued to direct his research group at the Queen's University Ionic Liquids Laboratories, write manuscripts, and prepare proposals from the nursing home in Cultra. We had lengthy conversations about the future of green chemistry; not surprisingly, Ken assigned me a few tasks to do when I returned home. We talked about books, music, and movies, and Ken introduced me to the brilliant BBC show W1A.


Ken will be remembered for his groundbreaking research on ionic liquids, which earned him many accolades, including the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2015. What I will remember most about Ken was his warmth and kindness. He was a wonderful son to his lovely Mum Muriel, and a true friend to numerous colleagues around the world.  Ken's science will live on through the work of his many collaborators, and his generosity of spirit will live on in our hearts.



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The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pa. has announced it is seeking nominations for the 2019 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science of individuals who have made significant contributions to green and sustainable chemistry. The prizewinner will receive $250,000. Nominations are due May 31, 2018.


Bower-Medal-185.jpgThe Achievement in Science award was established in 1990 through the bequest of a chemical manufacturer and philanthropist Henry Bower. Each year a topic is selected for the award and this is the first time that the Institute has chosen Green and Sustainable Chemistry.


The Franklin Institute has been recognizing scientists, inventors and leaders since its foundation in 1824. Each year it gives out Benjamin Franklin Medals for chemistry, computer and cognitive science, earth and environmental science, electrical engineering, life science, mechanical engineering, and physics. The Achievement in Science Award is a relatively new addition to this program and rotates through these same seven topics—touching on the field of chemistry once every seven years.


“The Institute felt that Green and Sustainable Chemistry is a theme that is timely, relevant, exciting and robust, and now would be a great time to recognize that area,” says Beth Scheraga, director of the awards program at the Franklin Institute.


The awards committee has suggested subtopics for the nominations, although nominations are welcome in other areas of green chemistry as well.


  • New chemical processes with reduced hazardous byproducts
  • Applications of supercritical fluids in chemical processes as environmentally benign solvents for chemical reactions, extractions, and chemical analyses
  • Utilization of ionic liquids as environmentally friendly alternatives to volatile and flammable solvents in chemical processes
  • Use of catalysts that make chemical processes more selective, less energy intensive, or more economical in their use of feedstock


For more information, please see:



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Contributed by Jane Murray, Ph.D., Global Head of Green Chemistry, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany (MilliporeSigma)




Increasing the availability of safer, sustainable solvents is expected to significantly impact industrial Green Chemistry programs. Cyrene™ [(-)-Dihydrolevoglucosenone] is a safer, bio-based alternative to petroleum-derived DMF (Dimethylformamide) and NMP (N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone)1. Despite only recently becoming available in the quantities required for solvent usage, Cyrene™ has been successfully employed as a greener substitute in a number of industrially relevant applications, including graphene synthesis2 and carbon cross-coupling reactions3,4.




Fossil-derived solvents often constitute the bulk of a reaction or formulation; sustainable and safer alternatives are sought in order to address environmental, health and safety concerns, in addition to increasing regulatory restrictions. Recent attention has focussed on finding alternatives to dipolar aprotic solvents, DMF and NMP, due to increasing regulatory limitations resulting from their associated reproductive toxicity. Both the aforementioned solvents were recently added to the European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA) candidate list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) for Authorisation.                       


Cyrene™ was developed by Circa Group in partnership with Professor James Clark, Ph.D., at the University of York’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE)1. Its multifunctional fused ring structure affords a polarity similar to NMP without the inclusion of the amide functionality that is associated with the reproductive toxicity of NMP and DMF.  It is produced in only two steps from non-food cellulose, via a manufacturing process that is almost energy neutral and releases water to the environment. Cyrene™ has a density of 1.25g/mL and does not contain any chlorine, sulfur or nitrogen heteroatoms, which can present end-of-life pollution issues and create corrosive by-products if incinerated. It also has very low acute (LD50) and aquatic (EC50) toxicities that are well above the hazard thresholds defined by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Additionally, Cyrene™ is biodegradable and safer to handle than many oxygenated solvents due to its flash point of 108°C. It is stable to oxidation and (at end-of-life) upon incineration or biodegradation yields only carbon dioxide and water.


Material Science Applications 


Graphene is a disruptive technology with potential applications spanning sustainable energy, biomedical, apparel and electronics. Despite its promise, commercialization is currently limited due to the challenges of manufacturing at scale. The common production method utilizing liquid exfoliation of graphite often results in low concentrations and employs NMP. Clark et al found that Graphene dispersions, obtained when NMP was substituted with Cyrene™, were an order of magnitude more concentrated2. The superior performance was attributed to the green solvent’s optimum polarity and high viscosity resulting in the creation of larger and less defective graphene flakes. This is anticipated to support graphene production at scale and contribute towards this revolutionary material realizing its commercial potential.


Interestingly, Katz et al. demonstrated that Cyrene™ could also be successfully employed as an alternative to DMF in the synthesis of metal-organic frameworks5.


Medicinal Chemistry Applications


Cross-coupling reactions are amongst the most utilized in the Pharmaceutical and Agrochemical industries, yet often employ DMF as their reaction medium. Switching to alternative solvents may necessitate increased reaction times, higher temperatures or the introduction of non-commercial catalysts. In partnership with Allan Watson, Ph.D., from the University of St Andrews, we developed a mild and robust method for the Sonogashira reaction employing Cyrene™ (Scheme 1)3. The greener alternative also enabled the cascade synthesis of functionalized indoles and benzofurans via a Cacchi-type annulation. The limitations of employing Cyrene™ as a solvent were also investigated. It was found that organic bases, including NEt3 and DIPEA, were tolerated at 50 C; however, the inorganic bases tested, with the exception of KOAc, were found to react with the solvent.



     Scheme 1


A mild method was also developed for the Suzuki-Miyaura coupling reaction, employing Cyrene™ as a direct alternative to conventional solvents (DMF, THF and 1,4-dioxane) (Scheme 2)4. Excellent generality and functional group tolerance with high yields were obtained on both small and larger scale synthesis.




     Scheme 2


Camp et al. employed Cyrene™ to develop a highly efficient, waste-minimizing method for the synthesis of ureas from isocyanates and secondary amines (Scheme 3)6. Notably, their method established a simple work-up procedure: The addition of water to the reaction solution resulted in precipitation of the desired urea. Filtration and washing with water yielded an analytically pure product. Their protocol led to a 28-fold increase in molar efficiency versus industrial standard protocols.



     Scheme 3


Researchers continue to discover new applications for this greener solvent alternative. Cyrene™ was recently awarded Bio-based World News’ European Bio-based Innovation Award—a success that was attributed to it demonstrating that safer greener alternatives may also offer superior performance.


Cyrene™ is commercially available from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany (MilliporeSigma).



  1. Sherwood, J.; De bruyn, M; Constantinou, A.; Moity, L.; McElroy, C. R; Farmer, T. J; Duncan, T.; Raverty, W.; Hunt, A. J.; Clark, J. H. Chem Commun., 2014, 50, 9650 DOI: 10.1039/c4cc04133j
  2. Salavagione, H. J.;  Sherwood, J.;  De Bruyn, M.; Budarin, V. L.; Ellis, G. J.; Clark, J. H.; Shuttleworth, P. S. Green Chem. 2017, 19, 2550-2560 DOI: 10.1039/C7GC00112F
  3. Wilson, K. L.; Kennedy A. R.; Murray J.; Greatrex, B.; Jamieson, C.; Watson, A. J. B.; Beilstein J. Org. Chem. 2016, 12, 2005–2011 DOI:10.3762/bjoc.12.187
  4. Wilson, K. L;  Murray, J.; Jamieson, C.; Watson, A. Synlett, 2017, 28, A-E DOI: 10.1055/s-0036-1589143
  5. Zhang, J.; White, G.; Ryan, M.; Hunt, A. J.; Katz, M. ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2016, 2, 7186-7192  DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02115
  6. Mistry, L.; Mapesa, K.; Bousfield, T. W.; Camp, J. E. Green Chem., 2017, 19, 2123 DOI: 10.1039/C7GC00908A



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Recently, we posted the top 10 most downloaded 2017 articles from the ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering Journal. Here we are featuring the articles with the most downloads in 2017 from the Royal Society of Chemistry's journal, Green Chemistry.



Baochen Cui, Jianhua Zhang, Shuzhi Liu, Xianjun Liu, Wei Xiang, Longfei Liu, Hongyu Xin, Matthew J. Lefler and Stuart Licht.

Electrochemical Synthesis of Ammonia Directly from N2 and Water Over Iron-Based Catalysts Supported on Activated Carbon  

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (1), pp 298-304       

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC02386J



Simelys Hernández, M. Amin Farkhondehfal, Francesc Sastre, Michiel Makkee, ***** Saracco and Nunzio Russo. 

Syngas Production from Electrochemical Reduction of CO2: Current Status and

Prospective Implementation  

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (10), pp 2326-2346  

DOI: 10.1039/C7GC00398F



Wei Fang, Sheng Yang, Xi-Luan Wang, Tong-Qi Yuan and Run-Cang Sun.

Manufacture and Application of Lignin-Based Carbon Fibers (LCFs) and Lignin-Based Carbon Nanofibers (LCNFs)

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (8), pp 1794-1827   

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC03206K



Chunmei Li, You Xu, Wenguang Tu, Gang Chen and Rong Xu

Metal-Free Photocatalysts for Various Applications in Energy Conversion and Environmental Purification           

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (4), pp 882-899       

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC02856J



Zhuofeng Hu, Zhurui Shen and Jimmy C. Yu.

Phosphorus Containing Materials for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution   

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (3), pp 588-613

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC02825J



Patrick A. Julien, Cristina Mottillo and Tomislav Friščić.

Metal–Organic Frameworks Meet Scalable and Sustainable Synthesis      

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (12), pp 2729-2747 

DOI: 10.1039/C7GC01078H



Lianqin Wang, Emanuele Magliocca, Emma L. Cunningham, William E. Mustain, Simon D. Poynton, Ricardo Escudero-Cid, Mohamed M. Nasef, Julia Ponce-González, Rachida Bance-Souahli, Robert C. T. Slade, Daniel K. Whelligan and John R. Varcoe.

An Optimized Synthesis of High Performance Radiation-Grafted Anion-Exchange Membranes   

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (3), pp 831-843

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC02526A



Gopalakrishnan Kumar, Sutha Shobana, Wei-Hsin Chen, Quang-Vu Bach, Sang- Hyoun Kim, A. E. Atabani and Jo-Shu Chang.

A Review of Thermochemical Conversion of Microalgal Biomass for Biofuels: Chemistry and Processes           

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (1), pp 44-67

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC01937D



Roger A. Sheldon.

The E Factor 25 Years On: the Rise of Green Chemistry and Sustainability

Green Chem., 2017, 19 (1), pp 18-42

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC02157C



Fei Guo and Per Berglund.

Transaminase Biocatalysis: Optimization and Application

Green Chem., 2017,19 (2), pp 333-360

DOI: 10.1039/C6GC02328B






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December is a time for reflections on the current year as it rapidly draws to a close, along with anticipation for the year ahead.  The ACS Green Chemistry Institute’s commitment to green and sustainable chemistry and engineering was reinforced through its strategic planning efforts this year.  In collaboration with the GCI Governing Board, ACS staff worked with a consultant to refresh its strategic plan.  The updated plan recognizes the importance of leveraging ACS staff and governance units to more effectively promote the adoption of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering.  This strategy values GCI’s current activities while embracing opportunities to increase the impact of its efforts through enhanced collaborations. 


The ACS GCI plays a critical role in helping the ACS achieve its mission of “advancing the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.”  Our hope is that the refreshed GCI plan will enable the Society to more strategically fulfill this mission, which clearly addresses the sustainability of our planet.


In looking ahead to 2018, we are thrilled that the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference will be returning to Portland, Oregon from June 18-20.  Abstract submissions open January 4, and I encourage you to submit your abstracts to one of the 25 symposia offered in Portland. New features for next year’s conference include a Product Showcase and interactive sessions on select green chemistry and engineering topics.  Conference details are available at


The strength and success of every organization is found in its people.  The passion that my GCI colleagues – David Constable, Jenny MacKellar, Christiana Briddell, Isamir Martinez, and Stephanie Wahl – have for green and sustainable chemistry and engineering is evident in their day-to-day work.  I am honored to work with such a talented team in advancing the Institute’s mission to “Catalyze and enable the implementation of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemical enterprise and the Society.”


Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Kent Voorhees, Chair of the ACS Governing Board, for his guidance and support this year.  Kent has served on the Governing Board in a variety of capacities for 11 years, and we are grateful for his dedicated service to the Institute and his commitment to green and sustainable chemistry and engineering.


Thank you for the support, ideas, and suggestions you have shared with me during the past year. I wish everyone joyous holidays!     


mary signature.PNG






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What were the most popular sustainability research topics in 2017? Here's a list of the most downloaded ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering articles from the last year.



James Coombs OBrien, Laura Torrente-Murciano, Davide Mattia, and Janet L. Scott.

Continuous Production of Cellulose Microbeads via Membrane Emulsification

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (7), pp 5931–5939

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b00662



Mukesh Kumar Kumawat, Mukeshchand Thakur, Raju B. Gurung, and Rohit Srivastava. Graphene Quantum Dots from Mangifera indica: Application in Near-Infrared Bioimaging and Intracellular Nanothermometry.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (2), pp 1382–1391

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b01893



Subhajyoti Samanta, Santimoy Khilari, Debabrata Pradhan, and Rajendra Srivastava.

An Efficient, Visible Light Driven, Selective Oxidation of Aromatic Alcohols and Amines with O2 Using BiVO4/g-C3N4 Nanocomposite: A Systematic and Comprehensive Study toward the Development of a Photocatalytic Process.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (3), pp 2562–2577

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02902



Daniel M. Miles-Barrett, James R. D. Montgomery, Christopher S. Lancefield, David B. Cordes, Alexandra M. Z. Slawin, Tomas Lebl, Reuben Carr, and Nicholas J. Westwood.

Use of Bisulfite Processing To Generate High-β-O-4 Content Water-Soluble Lignosulfonates.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (2), pp 1831–1839

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02566



Dingze Lu, Hongmei Wang, Xiaona Zhao, Kiran Kumar Kondamareddy, Junqian Ding, Chunhe Li, and Pengfei Fang.

Highly Efficient Visible-Light-Induced Photoactivity of Z-Scheme g-C3N4/Ag/MoS2 Ternary Photocatalysts for Organic Pollutant Degradation and Production of Hydrogen.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (2), pp 1436–1445

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02010



Aleksandra Paruzel, Sławomir Michałowski, Jiří Hodan, Pavel Horák, Aleksander Prociak, and Hynek Beneš.

Rigid Polyurethane Foam Fabrication Using Medium Chain Glycerides of Coconut Oil and Plastics from End-of-Life Vehicles.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (7), pp 6237–6246

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b01197



Ashley DeVierno Kreuder, Tamara House-Knight, Jeffrey Whitford, Ettigounder Ponnusamy, Patrick Miller, Nick Jesse, Ryan Rodenborn, Shlomo Sayag, Malka Gebel, Inbal Aped, Israel Sharfstein, Efrat Manaster, Itzhak Ergaz, Angela Harris, and Lisa Nelowet Grice

A Method for Assessing Greener Alternatives between Chemical Products Following the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (4), pp 2927–2935

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02399



Binbin Jin, Guodong Yao, Xiaoguang Wang, Kefan Ding, and Fangming Jin.

Photocatalytic Oxidation of Glucose into Formate on Nano TiO2 Catalyst.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (8), pp 6377–6381

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b00364



Wenguang Tu, You Xu, Jiajia Wang, Bowei Zhang, Tianhua Zhou, Shengming Yin, Shuyang Wu, Chunmei Li, Yizhong Huang, Yong Zhou, Zhigang Zou, John Robertson, Markus Kraft, and Rong Xu.

Investigating the Role of Tunable Nitrogen Vacancies in Graphitic Carbon Nitride Nanosheets for Efficient Visible-Light-Driven H2 Evolution and CO2 Reduction.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (8), pp 7260–7268

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b01477



Marco Eissen and Dieter Lenoir.

Mass Efficiency of Alkene Syntheses with Tri- and Tetrasubstituted Double Bonds.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2017, 5 (11), pp 10459–10473

DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b02479







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Contributed by Max J. Hülsey, Ph.D. Candidate; Ning Yan, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore


The word ‘refinery’ evokes imagery of huge chemical plants spitting out steams and flames in the process of producing gasoline, tar or other chemicals for our everyday life. Fossil fuels are still the major driving force of chemical industries — a paradigm that could be changing in the not-too-distant future.


Analogous to chemical refineries, the concept of a biorefinery has

been proposed and developed, referring to a facility that converts biomass into bio-fuels and value-added chemicals. Sugars and starch are largely utilized as starting materials, while woody biomass is becoming a more popular feedstock. In both cases, ethanol obtained via the fermentation of sugars serves as the primary product. It is then directly used as a biofuel or further processed into other chemicals.


There are new trends in biorefining. For example, a series of non-conventional biomass starting materials, ranging from waste kitchen oils to crustacean shells, have been considered. In the design of new processes for biomass valorization, increasingly more attention is being paid to harnessing the structural uniqueness of certain types of biomass. That is, to preserve some of the functional groups and/or structural motifs that originally exist in biomass and transfer them into the product. This minimizes the required steps for transformation, enables the direct production of value-added products from biomass, and acts in accordance with the principles of green chemistry.


Though one major limitation of the current biomass refinery is that it is not as economically competitive as the petroleum refinery, further technological developments along with the implementation of improved biomass refinery schemes, focused on the direct generation of value-added chemicals, may address the problem.

Several examples below illustrate some new advances in biorefining:


Waste Shell Biorefinery

Despite their sheer abundance, resources from oceans are generally underutilized. Among these is chitin, a major component of crustacean waste, such as shrimp, crab and lobster shells. It is also the major component in the exoskeleton of insects and the cell walls of fungi. Its structure resembles cellulose, but it has an additional amino group instead of one of the sugar hydroxyl groups. In nature, this amino group is commonly derivatized by an acetyl group that can be easily cleaved to yield chitosan. It is estimated that some million tons of those shells are dumped into landfills and back into the ocean every year. Besides chitin, the shells contain calcium carbonate and proteins, both of which are useful chemicals.


Processes for the conversion of chitin and chitosan into materials for a range of medical and environmental applications exist, but little work was done previously to demonstrate at industrial scale how to convert chitin into valuable chemicals. In 2014, the first study on the production of a N-containing furan-derivative from chitin was presented. The furan-derivative represents an intermediate in the synthesis of several proximicin derivatives – an important class of antibiotics and anticancer agents.


Following that, a variety of other chemicals, such as derivatives of the monomeric sugar units, acetic acid, pyrrole and pyrazine-derivatives, were obtained from chitin. Most of those compounds are not directly obtainable from fossil fuels, as nitrogen normally is not a significant constituent thereof. Therefore, the Haber-Bosch process – highly redox ineffective and energy-intensive – is required to produce ammonia, which is the most common industrial source of nitrogen. Employing a starting material that contains the crucial element is thus beneficial.


Fuels from Kitchen Grease

Fuels such as gasoline or diesel represent one of the biggest fractions of our daily consumption of chemicals. Although processes for the production of biodiesel exist, they mostly rely on the use of food-grade oils. The high oxygen content of the oil renders it corrosive and thus incompatible with current motors.


Used kitchen oil has been shown to be an excellent source of alkanes with chain lengths in the common fuel range. A recently developed conversion process does not require stoichiometric reagents or solvents, but relies on the use of various nickel salts, where nickel acetate proved to be the best, producing up to 60 percent fuel from common fatty acids. The elimination of reagents and the absence of oxygen in the product may make this process attractive compared to existing biorefinery schemes for biodiesel production.


Aromatic Chemicals from Lignin

Lignocellulosic biomass, the major component of a plant’s dry weight, primarily contains three components: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The first two are normally utilized in the production of paper or bioethanol. Lignin is the only abundant biopolymer that contains aromatic building blocks, but currently, we are not able to exploit its potential, and for the most part, it is used as a fuel for steam production in the biorefinery.


Compared to most biopolymers, the structure of lignin is very complex, and it contains many aromatic ether bonds that are rather difficult to break. It has been shown that bimetallic metal catalysts containing nickel and other metals, such as ruthenium, palladium, rhodium or gold, work exceptionally well compared to their monometallic counterparts. A common problem is the hydrogenation of the aromatic ring by noble metals, whereas nickel is more selective in the cleavage of ether bonds, but possesses a lower activity. The combination of both can lead to a highly active catalyst that yields aromatic monomers from lignin.  It remains to be seen whether or not the use of such catalysts can be sustainably employed at industrial scale and further development is warranted.



Transformation of biorefinery 2.0 from a concept into reality requires substantial efforts from multiple parties. A series of projects should be launched to enable new chemistry and processes. These projects should be supported jointly by government funding agencies and major chemical producers. Researchers with multidisciplinary backgrounds should work together to solve various scientific and technical challenges using the state-of-the-art advances in green chemistry, catalysis and materials science. Various media should advertise the new progresses to the public to increase general awareness and to get their support for the production of high value, renewable chemicals.






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The 2017 Ciba Award in Green Chemistry was awarded to four outstanding students from the Simmons College, University of California - Berkeley, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Grosse Pointe North High School. These students have shown significant abilities to incorporate creative green chemistry solutions into their research and education. This year marks the first time a high school student has received the award since the program began in 2010.


Administered by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, the Ciba Travel Award enables students with an interest in green chemistry to travel to an ACS scientific conference—giving them important opportunities to expand their education by attending symposia, networking, and presenting their research. This year’s awardees’ highlight the importance of multidisciplinary and systems-centric learning—representing multiple perspectives and experiences from chemistry, biochemistry, chemical education, toxicology and public health. Research topics includes improving green chemistry education, development of an effective green electrochemistry lab, synthesis of safer antimicrobial copolymers, and the use of ligands for to remove metals from aqueous substances.


From a large pool of excellent applications, the panel of judges selected the following winners, (list is pictured from left to right):


Laura Armstrong is a graduate student at the University of California – Berkeley in the science and mathematics education program. Her area of focus is in how a shared understanding of green chemistry’s purpose and practices can help foster adoption of green chemistry into research and educational settings. To this end, Armstrong has built an assessment tool to collect and analyze beliefs around green chemistry and the factors that influence them in order to understand effective outreach strategies for increased green chemistry adoption. She plans to present her research at the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 18-20, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.


Steven Couture is a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Boston where he is completing a M.S. in chemistry. Couture’s previous experience as a high school chemistry teacher informed his graduate work where he developed a greener electrochemistry lab. After piloting the lab, he conducted a randomized experiment comparing student interest, engagement and ability to apply green chemistry after having taken the greener lab vs. a traditional one and found overwhelming support for the effectiveness of the new lab. Couture is also a leader in the New England Students and Teachers for Sustainability (NESTS). After graduation, he plans to return to teaching high school chemistry and will continue to redesign chemistry labs, integrating green chemistry further into the high school science curriculum. With his award, he will attend the 225th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 18-20, 2018 to present his research.


Ruby Rose T. Laemmle is an undergraduate student from Simmons College with a double major in in biochemistry and public health. Her research is in the design and application of copolymers that can be cross-linked and coated onto textiles. This research seeks to find a safer way to use quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) as antimicrobials on textiles. QACs are effective but typically run off easily in the wash and where they may be toxic to aquatic life.  Laemmle has been able to immobilize the QAC compounds by copolymerizing them with photoresist monomers and crosslinking them to the fabric surface with UV irradiation. Laemmle will present her research at the 225th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 18-20, 2018.


Michal Tomasz Ruprecht is a high school student from the Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He participated in advanced organic and green chemistry research at the University of Detroit Mercy where, motivated by the Flint water crisis, he investigated the use of ligands to pull metal ions from aqueous solutions. Ruprecht plans to continue this research through 2018 and, after graduation from high school, expects to continue his studies as an undergraduate student of chemistry and materials science with the goal of pursuing green chemistry-based research in a graduate degree. Ruprecht hopes to present his ligand research at the 226th ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Boston, Massachusetts, August 19-23, 2018.



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Contributed by David Constable, Ph.D., Science Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


DSC_1090-2.jpgI have just returned from almost two weeks in India, where I had the privilege of participating in several conferences and workshops. Traveling to India makes for a long trip, but I am always very deeply appreciative of the tremendous hospitality, generosity and respect shown to me by our Indian colleagues; it is very humbling. I have been in India twice this year, and without question, it seems as though green chemistry progress is accelerating in India. This is cause for tremendous optimism given the environmental conditions that are a consequence of rapid industrialization and the fact that few pollution controls have been rigorously enforced in years past. Participation, interest and enthusiasm for green chemistry among government participants, industry colleagues, and academics provides strong evidence of a deep commitment to making lasting changes.


The first conference and workshop I participated in was in New Delhi, arranged by Professor Rakesh Sharma of the University of Delhi. The conference theme was “Advancing Green Chemistry:  Building a Sustainable Tomorrow” and was largely attended by the academic community in and around New Delhi. Professor Sharma is and has been a tireless supporter and promoter of green chemistry in India since 2001, and he continues to take every opportunity to convene conferences and workshops across India. I am always impressed when he presents the history of his promotion of and involvement in green chemistry over the past 14 years through a succession of conferences, symposia, workshops, television appearances and print media.


A workshop on the second day of the conference was focused on teachers and providing hands-on experience with the green chemistry experiments Prof. Sharma, Dr. Indu Sidhwani and Dr. M.K. Chaudhari have recently published. The level of enthusiasm for green chemistry among students and teachers is nothing less than amazing.


The second conference I had the privilege of participating in was IGCW 2017 in Mumbai. This was my fourth time at IGCW, and it was even more successful than the previous IGCW conferences I have attended. Nitesh Mehta, Badresh Padia and Krishna Padia are business partners (Newreka), founders of the Green ChemisTree Foundation, and conveners of the IGCW.  It is hard for me to convey the degree of their commitment to green chemistry and engineering, but the vision they have had for green chemistry and engineering in India has sustained them through some very difficult times for their business and less successful conferences in past years. I know of no other company in the world that even comes close to the extent of their personal commitment to advancing green chemistry and engineering, and I am truly inspired by what they have accomplished.

European businesses, in addition to Indian businesses, members of the Pollution Control Board, academics, and senior government officials were all present, with over 300 registered participants for the two-day conference and workshops.


On the Saturday and Sunday following the conference, the Green ChemisTree foundation and the ACS sponsored green chemistry workshops for students at the National College for Teachers and at Sumaiya Vidyavihar University. I had the privilege of speaking several times at both these events and was tremendously impressed by the level of engagement and excitement on the part of teachers and students. I can honestly say that I have never experienced this kind of excitement and commitment outside of India – truly impressive and a cause for great optimism that India will address its many sustainability challenges in the future.


Later on, we also visited two companies, Lupin and Hikal, both of which are generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, contract manufacturing/research companies. At both companies we were able to meet with and make presentations to a large portion of their process chemists about green chemistry opportunities in pharmaceutical manufacturing operations and the benefits of being a part of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. Once again, it was great to interact with a highly engaged group of chemists and chemical engineers!



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What better place than the classroom for green chemistry – the “field open for innovation, new ideas, and revolutionary progress” – to flourish? In the years since its inception, green chemistry has been increasingly implemented in undergraduate chemistry education. In an effort to honor the hard work and dedication of ACS Student Chapters who show outstanding interest in the discipline, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) partnered with the ACS Education Division in 2001 to initiate Green Chemistry Student Chapter Awards.


The awards, granted to only four student chapters in the 2001-2002 academic year, are now regularly awarded to over 50 student chapter winners across the country annually. This year, we celebrate 53 student chapters who have used their creativity and resources to show their commitment to sustainable chemistry by completing three or more green chemistry outreach activities.


Activities that qualify for eligibility must emphasize an understanding of green chemistry — anything from hosting a lecture at your school to planning a green chemistry scavenger hunt in your community. Here are a few additional standout examples of green chemistry activities that some of our 2016-2017 Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award Winners completed:


  • Gordon College students worked with other student chapters in the Northeast region to coordinate an Earth Day event sponsored by ACS at the Museum of Science in Boston. There, they hosted interactive demonstrations, using M&Ms to explain E-factor and cabbage juice to explain pH, to show local families how green chemistry “feeds the world.” They also conducted similar demonstrations in a STEM fair at a local K-12 school district in Ipswich, Massachusetts.


  • University of New England students organized a lecture by green chemistry founder John C. Warner and performed an “Ecovative Material” activity in advance, showcasing the benefits of sustainable alternatives to nonrenewable resources. Several club members also traveled with an advisor to the Warner Babcock Institute in Massachusetts for the Green Chemistry Innovation Workshop, where they toured the facility, networked with other visiting student groups, and learned about advances in green chemistry from chemists working in the space themselves.


  • University of California-Los Angeles students dissected the chemicals in store-bought cosmetics that pose harmful effects to human health and the environment, and encouraged event participants to join them in making their own alternative, eco-friendly beauty products – including a raw sugar and strawberry face scrub, a green tea and coconut oil face scrub and an oatmeal and honey face mask – that they could take home with them. They also presented on the chemistry of composting.


  • University of Tennessee at Martin ACS Student Chapter students, called SMACS, joined forces with a local Boy Scout troop in West Tennessee to host a Merit Badge Workshop where scouts learned about the importance of green chemistry and chemistry at-large, and engaged in various experiments. The SMACS have been hosting this workshop for nearly 30 years, but only recently have its demonstrations incorporated innovative green chemistry techniques to eliminate waste and more.


The full list of 2016-2017 academic year Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award winners are:


Alvernia University Student Chapter

Angelo State University Student Chapter

Central Michigan University Student Chapter

City Colleges of Chicago Wilbur Wright College Student Chapter

Duquesne University Student Chapter

Erskine College Student Chapter

Gordon College Student Chapter

Henderson State University Student Chapter

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Student Chapter

Inter American University of Puerto Rico Ponce Campus Student Chapter

Inter American University of Puerto Rico San German Campus Student Chapter

Miami University Student Chapter

Midland College Student Chapter

Mississippi College Student Chapter

Missouri State University Student Chapter

Northeastern University Student Chapter

Pace University Student Chapter

Ramapo College of New Jersey Student Chapter

Saginaw Valley State University Student Chapter

Saint Francis University Student Chapter

Saint Louis University Student Chapter

Salt Lake Community College Student Chapter

Santa Monica College Student Chapter

Simmons College Student Chapter

South Texas College Student Chapter

Tarleton State University Student Chapter

Tennessee Technological University Student Chapter

The College of New Jersey Student Chapter

The Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico Student Chapter

Tuskegee University Student Chapter

Union University Student Chapter

United States Merchant Marine Academy Student Chapter

University of Alabama at Birmingham Student Chapter

University of California-Davis Student Chapter

University of California-Los Angeles Student Chapter

University of California-San Diego Student Chapter

University of Central Arkansas Student Chapter

University of Connecticut Student Chapter

University of New England Student Chapter

University of Northern Iowa Student Chapter

University of Pittsburgh Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico at Cayey Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon Campus Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla Student Chapter

University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus Student Chapter

University of Saint Thomas Student Chapter

University of Tennessee at Martin Student Chapter

University of Texas at Tyler Student Chapter

University of Toledo Student Chapter

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Chapter

Waynesburg University Student Chapter

West Virginia State University Student Chapter


If your student chapter is registered for the upcoming Program-in-a-Box, “Chemistry Rocks! Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals,” on October 24, 2017, please note that this does count as one of your green chemistry activities for the next awards in 2018.


There is also an exciting opportunity for student chapter leaders to share their teams’ successes with the broader chemistry community at the next ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. ACS GCI and Beyond Benign will be partnering to host the session “Green Chemistry Student Chapters: Stories of Success.” We encourage students interested in participating to submit an abstract to highlighting your team’s work in green chemistry. Those who submit accepted abstracts will be invited to present at the meeting on their chapters’ activities.


Need more support in brainstorming cool chemistry activities that quality for the Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award? Check out the ACS GCI Student Chapter Guides and informative videos for more ideas.


Congratulations to the 53 chapters who won this year’s awards!


We look forward to seeing all the new green chemistry projects that student chapters put together next year.



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Contributed by Marta Gmurczyk, Manager, ACS Safety Programs


In 2009, just a year after I had been appointed to serve as the ACS staff liaison for the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety (CCS), the entire safety community was devastated to learn about a tragic accident where a young researcher at the UCLA died from burn injuries she suffered while working with a pyrophoric solution of tert-Butyllithium. More accidents in educational settings followed, and calls for changes in the safety education processes and safety culture were becoming increasingly vocal, both within and outside the American Chemical Society.


The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety recognized this need and formed the Safety Culture Task Force, inviting partners from a number of ACS committees and divisions to join an effort to identify the elements and best practices of a good safety culture; offer specific recommendations that could be used by universities and colleges to strengthen their safety cultures; and identify tools and resources that would be beneficial to advancing these efforts. The final report, “Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions,” was published in 2012 and identified the following elements of a strong safety culture:


  • Leadership and Management of Safety
  • Teaching Basic Laboratory and Chemical Safety through Continuous and Integrated Safety Education
  • Safety Attitudes, Safety Awareness and Safety Ethics
  • Learning from Incidents
  • Collaborative Interactions that Help Build Strong Safety Cultures
  • Promoting and Communicating Safety


The report also made 17 specific recommendations to create vibrant, effective safety cultures in academic institutions. One of the recommendations called for ensuring that graduating chemistry students have strong skills in laboratory safety and strong safety ethics by integrating safety education into each laboratory session, as well as evaluating these skills throughout the educational process. The report also recommended implementing hazard analysis procedures in all lab work, especially laboratory research.


These recommendations resonated with the academic community as indicated by the overwhelming interest in the report — over 4,000 copies were distributed — but also uncovered needs for additional guidance and resources. One faculty member summed it up well after a conversation about safety education, saying, “If I knew what to teach, I would.” Educators have made significant efforts to reduce risks in teaching laboratories by using less hazardous chemicals and more controlled procedures to make environments much safer for students, but will such education prepare graduates for less controlled, riskier laboratory work in their professions? The consequences of not integrating safety training into chemical education might not be felt directly by the academic community, but its impacts are significant on graduates and the institutions that employ them.


Many companies have accepted the fact that they need to invest time and energy into developing safety training courses for their new bachelor's degree employees. Likewise, middle and high school chemistry/science teachers are responsible and accountable for the safe conduct of their students – yet safety education is not integrated in their pedagogical preparation. Multiple incidents involving demonstrations with methanol that have seriously burned numerous students and teachers; these are accidents that could have been prevented if teachers had a foundation on the technical aspects of chemical safety.


To assist teachers and faculty members with integrating safety education into their students’ chemistry curriculum, the committee published “Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools” and “Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Academic Institutions.”


The well-established ACS publication “Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories” has also been revised to provide students with an overview of the key issues related to the safe use of chemicals during the first two years of undergraduate chemistry education. The publication shifts one’s focus from safety based on rules to safety taught through the four RAMP principles: 1) recognize the hazards, 2) assess the risks of the hazards, 3) minimize the risks of the hazards, and 4) prepare for emergencies. Such a safety education emphasizes understanding hazards in terms of scientific principles, including reactions, thermodynamics, structure-activity relationships, assessment of risk of hazards, practices to minimize risks of hazards, and preparations for emergencies. This approach develops students’ ability to understand the principles and applications of safety and teaches them to think critically about safety to make decisions that will keep themselves and those around them safe.


ACS also responded to requests made by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) after its investigation of a serious accident at Texas Tech University in 2010 where a chemistry graduate student was seriously injured. The Board noted in the report that “current standards on hazard evaluations, risk assessment and hazard mitigation are geared toward industrial settings and are not transferrable to the academic research laboratory environment” and asked ACS to help. ACS accepted the CSB recommendations and developed the guide and tools to assess and control hazards in a research laboratory. We have come a long way in the past 10 years. ACS’s engagement with safety education contributed to a desired shift from a culture of compliance to a culture of safety where safety concepts and practices are more integrated in education and research.


Recently, ACS has elevated safety as a core value of the Society, and ACS Publications initiated a new safety reporting requirement that states that journal authors must “emphasize any unexpected, new, and/or significant hazards or risks associated with the reported work.”


I am the first full-time staff member to manage ACS safety programs. The position is housed in the newly-created Scientific Advancement Division, which also houses the Green Chemistry Institute (GCI). The proximity of these two programs naturally creates a connection between them, which I am committed to exploring.


In the emerging culture of safety, both chemistry education and research practices incorporate the explicit analysis of hazards and risks related to any laboratory activity. Both the culture of safety and the culture of green chemistry also call for this mindset, where critical assessment and preparation is built into planning with a purpose to minimize unexpected or potentially hazardous outcomes. Reflecting a growing awareness of green chemistry thinking, the culture is also shifting from regulating and banning, to one where products are designed to be synthesized in a way that reduces or eliminates the use of hazardous substances in the first place.


With the renewed ACS emphasis on safety come new opportunities to connect green chemistry to safety culture efforts. In the end, both efforts strive to lower risks to human health in the laboratory and make chemistry more sustainable for the planet.


If you wish to find out more about the ACS safety resources or share your thoughts on connections between green chemistry and the culture of safety, please contact me at



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