Pete Myers on The Health Benefits of a Circular Economy (Watch)

August 22, 2016 | Circulate

Keeping materials cycling throughout the economy is good, right? Perhaps not, if you haven’t considered exactly what materials you’ve got re-entering the loop. Unfortunately, we don’t know all the substances contained in the products and built environment around us, or understand the health impacts that can occur as a result of the accumulation of certain chemicals.


Mold Might Be The Future Of Recycling For Rechargeable Batteries

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August 21, 2016 | Forbes

Today in Philadelphia, Jeffrey A. Cunningham of the University of South Florida described how he and his collaborators are studying how well fungi can recycle rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. At this point, the technology is at the proof-of-concept stage.


Companies Urged To Think Green When Designing New Catalysts for Shale Gas

August 19, 2016 | BNA

Constable spoke with Bloomberg BNA about a workshop report the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released Aug. 18. The report urged federal agencies and the private sector to conduct research in specific areas to improve catalysts.


The Plastics Revolution: How Chemists are Pushing Polymers to New Limits

August 17, 2016 | Nature

Polymers have infiltrated almost every aspect of modern life. Now researchers are working on next-generation forms.


Rethink How Chemical Hazards are Tested

August 16, 2016 | Nature

John C. Warner and Jennifer K. Ludwig propose three approaches that would help inventors to produce safer chemicals and products.


Green Chemistry: From the Bench Top to Industry, A Chemical Engineer’s Perspective

August 15, 2016 | The Green Chemistry Initiative Blog

As a chemist, do you ever think about how to scale up your chemical reactions, or your chemical processes?

For most of us, the answer is no. However, this idea of industrial scale is something that is constantly addressed in the Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry department. Consequently, the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry become fundamental to scale up a reaction from the bench top in a research lab to mass production in a chemical plant.


White Dog Labs Looks to Build Delaware's Next Chemical Giant

August 14, 2016 | Delaware Online

Acetone is not commonly thought of as an important or economically valuable chemical. Most people probably know it only for its usefulness in removing nail polish.




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


The pace of activities has thankfully slowed just a bit over the past month, although we are down another person with Ann Lee-Jeff’s departure to assume her role at Teva as a Sr. Director, Product Stewardship. I was sorry to see Ann go; she was an experienced hand and did a great job engaging with business. But I’m very happy that she found a Product Stewardship role and it’s a great career move for her. We are actively looking for a replacement and we have had some great applicants, so I’m looking forward to getting someone on-board to pick up where Ann left off.


I had the opportunity to attend the Gordon Conference on green chemistry a few weeks ago. The good news about that event is that most of the people in attendance were different than those in attendance when the Conference was in Hong Kong in 2014. I say this is good news because I’d like to think that green chemistry is becoming better known and accepted after 20 years or so, and seeing different people means more are thinking about green chemistry and engineering research and development. The conference is preceded by a symposium for students and there clearly were a significant number of students who were actively engaged throughout the Conference.


Since I’ve been the director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, I’ve had the privilege of attending many green chemistry conferences and symposia, at international, national and regional meetings. What I’ve observed is that the alignment of research and development activities as presented in many of these symposia with the principles of green chemistry and engineering is not always very good — it’s more of a mix. Of course, if you take a longer view, the trend is that the degree of alignment is improving over time. Still, we have a way to go. This is a topic that I would hope to discuss more comprehensively at some point, but take this one quick example: hydrogen peroxide. Many people promote hydrogen peroxide as a green reagent without considering the life cycle environmental, safety, and health hazards associated with its production and use, so I would encourage you to read Ashley Baker’s article in this issue. We should include a systems, life cycle view in our consideration of what is “green,” regardless of whether or not the substance we are making is green or has a human benefit.


Yes, I see there has been progress in green chemistry and engineering, but there’s still a lot of opportunity for improvement.


Last week the Chemical Manufacturers Roundtable held another workshop for the AltSep technology roadmap for less energy-intensive separations. The workshop brought together another 34 outstanding researchers from industry and academia to map out research needs that would allow us to achieve a vision for the conceptual design of separation processes in the 21st century. Now comes the hard part of synthesizing the first 3 workshop outcomes and planning the remaining workshops to fill in the gaps.  This has been an exciting project and I am thrilled by the progress that has been made. Robert Giraud of Chemours and Amit Sehgal of Solvay continue to perform Yeoman’s work and I continue to be grateful and inspired by their commitment; this project would not have proceeded as quickly or as well without them driving it.


Work on the 2017 Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference continues apace. We are grateful for our Conference advisory committee and our program chairs’—David Leahy (BMS) and Amit Sehgal (Solvay)—work to date. We are looking forward to another outstanding conference next year and please don’t forget to respond to the Call for Symposia  which closes on October 7th.


These are just a few of the things that are on my mind at the moment and there is actually a lot more that is happening in green chemistry and engineering at the Institute and elsewhere, and that is surely a good thing.


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





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Contributed by Dr. Karen Goodwin, Professor, Centralia College


In July of this year, I had the opportunity to be a first-time attendee at the Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, held in Portland, Oregon. Now in its 20th year, this is the first time the conference was held on the west coast. As a professor at a small community college in Washington state, the fact that this conference was held close to home was one of the primary factors that allowed me to attend.


The three-day event was packed with technical sessions, spanning education, research, synthesis, business, and industry. This variety made it easy to find talks that were of interest, and brought together chemists and engineers from every corner of our field. The social events provided many opportunities for networking, and because of the wide variety of attendees, the conversations were fascinating. For me, talking with colleagues about what is going on at the front lines of chemistry and engineering gave me real-life examples to use in my classrooms. It was also gratifying to be able to talk about chemistry education, and to hear the perspective of the people that will be interviewing and hiring my students in the future.


There were several technical sessions that focused on green chemistry in education. At my institution, I instruct both general and organic chemistry, so I was pleased to find talks that included curriculum for both of these courses. One of the sessions, led by Jane Wissinger, focused specifically on education resources involving polymers and plastics. Having a session such as this, with talks on a specific common theme, allowed attendees to hear from speakers at a variety of institutions. This diversity assured that no matter what the restrictions of your individual laboratory, there was certain to be an experiment or lesson that you could put immediately into your curriculum. Another session, Design of State of the Art GC Curricula, led by Jim Hutchison, focused on infusing green chemistry into chemistry programs. Starting with an overview of the Green Chemistry Education Roadmap by Jim, the talks focused on the approaches that are being taken at a variety of schools around the country, and provided specific resources to help curriculum designers in planning their own courses. The final session I attended was the Design of Curricular Materials - Rapid Fire session, again led by Jane Wissinger. I had the opportunity to present in this session, and as this was my first time presenting at a major conference, the rapid fire format was perfect for me. By having each speaker limited to 10 minutes, attendees were able to hear more talks, and to be presented with very specific lessons and labs that are being used right now in classrooms around the country. Each of these sessions were well attended, and being able to share ideas and teaching philosophies with educators from so many different institutions was an amazing experience.


The final event of the conference was a Pub Crawl, which was new to this conference. The event broke up attendees into groups with similar interests (educators, industrial chemists, etc.) and provided a nearby pub location for each. The groups, each with a leader to facilitate conversation, walked to the pub and spent the next few hours networking and sharing ideas. The off-site locations made for a more relaxed atmosphere than can usually be achieved at a conference location, and was just a very laid-back way to end the day before heading home. It was nice to be able to explore some of the city of Portland, while still being able to get in a final visit with new-found colleagues.


I came away from this experience with a renewed energy, and so many ideas for further improvement of my green chemistry curriculum. I strongly encourage any educator considering implementing green chemistry into their courses to attend this conference in the future—whether you are already a part of the green chemistry community, or just want to find out more, there will be something of interest to you. The passion for relevant and high-quality instruction was evident in all the talks that I attended in the education track.  Overall, the green chemistry “crowd” is very welcoming—it was evident that there were many years of camaraderie among most of the participants, but this first-time attendee was welcomed in with open arms. I am hopeful that the success of the event will mean that it is held on the west coast again!




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Contributed By Ed Brush, Professor of Chemistry and Coordinator of Project GreenLab, Bridgewater State University


The vision statement of the American Chemical Society reads, “Improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.” Chemistry has inarguably provided numerous contributions to humanity, however, we also need to be aware of the unintended consequences of chemicals on human and environmental health. Hazardous chemicals are disproportionally impacting children and adults in low income, minority neighborhoods, while the presence of naturally-occurring and human-made chemicals restrict access to clean air and water. This violates our definition of social and environmental justice where all people, regardless of race or economic status, have the right to live, work, play and learn in healthy, safe environments.


“Green chemists” share a set of common principles that guide us in making smart choices in how we design, make, use and dispose of chemicals and chemical products.  Green chemistry has the potential to offer solutions to help correct many of these disparities. This perspective was shared by over 75 attendees at the 20th Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland this past June, who participated in a symposium on green chemistry and the social and environmental (in)justice of chemical exposure. The purpose of this unique symposium was to bring together, for the first time, a multidisciplinary group of participants to begin exploring and understanding the racial and socioeconomic disparities in how hazardous chemicals impact society.Ed Brush Graphic.png


The symposium began with a brief overview to set the perspective that included contributions from attendees who shared their views on the disproportionate exposure of chemicals on society. The tone for the symposium was set by Mary Kirchhoff, Director of ACS Education Division, who gave an excellent overview in her talk on “Chemistry in a Social Justice Context”. Mary nicely defined social justice from a historical perspective, as well as the EPA’s roadmap to integrate environmental justice into its programs, policies, and activities.  Additional contributors to the symposium were Annelle Mendez, Michael Cann, Ed Brush and Olga Krel. When considering the breakthrough technologies recognized through the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards, many of these have made significant contributions to cleaner air and water, and the safer design and use of chemicals and chemical products. It is implicit that green chemistry = social and environmental justice, and fully complements the dynamic ACS Mission Statement, “to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.”


All those interested in continuing this discussion are encouraged to submit contributions to the Nexus Newsletter and Blog. Contributors are also invited to join in a proposed session on green chemistry and issues of social/environmental justice during the symposium on “Green Chemistry Theory & Practice” at the ACS meeting in San Francisco in April 2017, and at the 21st Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Reston, VA in June 2017.




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What Chemicals are in Your Tattoo?

August 15, 2016 | C&EN

European regulators worry about the inks used to make body decorations, which can be repurposed from the car paint, plastics, and textile dye industries.


How Lego Rebuilt Itself as a Purposeful and Sustainable Brand

August 11, 2016 | Forbes

Flashback to the 1960s when plastics were the future and companies proudly advertised “Better living through chemistry.” It was obviously a different time with different understandings and attitudes towards petrochemicals.


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New Catalyst Offers a Route to Cost-Effective Biobased, Biodegradable Plastics

August 11, 2016 | Plastics Today

While biodegradable plastics derived from renewable sources are nothing new, affordable degradable bioplastics that can equal the performance of petroleum plastics, are far and few between. Now, all that seems set to change.


Revolutionary Computer Program Could Change Chemistry Forever

August 10, 2016 | RSC

"The internet is the only comparable network in existence," says Bartosz Grzybowski from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. He is talking about Chematica – a computer network mapping millions of molecules and reactions in the known chemical universe.


Yikes! I Just Increased My Platinum Footprint

August 8, 2016 | Sustainable Manufacturer Network

Who knew contact lenses could cause such angst? Mark Jones ponders his platinum footprint after purchasing a new type of cleaning system for his contact lenses.


Another Brick in the Molecule

August 5, 2016 | Rice University

Rice University chemical engineers explore market for pure levoglucosan.


Cornell Scientists Convert Carbon Dioxide, Create Electricity

August 4, 2016 | Cornell

While the human race will always leave its carbon footprint on the Earth, it must continue to find ways to lessen the impact of its fossil fuel consumption.


Wooden Surfboards to Mushroom Handplanes: The Surf Companies Tackling Ocean Waste

August 2, 2016 | The Guardian

Ocean waste is a serious problem for companies emotionally and physically connected to the sea, said the founder of outdoor clothing company Finisterre in a recent Guardian debate, but that connection also gives them a strong incentive to find solutions. Here we profile some of the companies doing just that.


Going Green with Biocatalysis

August 2, 2016 | PharmTech

Enzymatic catalysis offers pharma manufacturers a way to implement the Principles of Green Chemistry.


The Ultimate Beauty Luxury? Non-Toxic Color that Restores Your Pre-Gray Hair

July 31, 2016 | Forbes

When I arrived at Hairprint headquarters in Sausalito a year ago, I was greeted by author and environmentalist Paul Hawken, and Philippa Shenandoah, a hair stylist I’d worked with on photo shoots. Hawken stared at my head: your hair is colored? “Yes, highlighted,” I said. “Is it a problem?”




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Contributed by Dr. Julie Haack, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oregon


Walking into the innovation hub at 942 Olive is like walking into another world. The rough open interior looks more like a hip modern design studio than a university building. The mix of open work areas and exhibition spaces surrounding digital and analog prototyping labs with materials characterization capabilities stirs the imagination. This is the home for a bold new program that brings together artists, designers, chemists and entrepreneurs to create and launch world changing products and businesses. The goal is to create an intellectual maker space that aspires to be the birthplace and launch pad for the next generation of green businesses.


Highlighting innovation, partnerships, and sustainability, the University of Oregon (UO) sponsored hub currently houses three core groups, the UO Product Design Launch Lab, the Eugene branch of the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN) and the Tyler Invention Greenhouse. The 12,800-squarefoot facility is designed to expose and celebrate the “process of making” used by designers, chemists and entrepreneurs so that it can become part of a creative ecosystem that is accessible to a broader community. Opportunities to house “experts in residence” will catalyze the infusion of new ideas and strategies into the growing interdisciplinary community.


Successful inventors constantly engage in activities that build knowledge and experience around solving problems. Opportunities for students to participate in these kinds of activities are often limited to short, one-off experiences like those associated with a specific course or an annual competition. The Tyler Invention Greenhouse, in collaboration with the Product Design programs and RAIN, provides an alternative approach by creating opportunities for continuous engagement, where the tools of green chemistry and life cycle thinking are infused throughout the creative process.



The Tyler Invention Greenhouse builds upon the UO’s strengths in sustainability, green chemistry, design and innovation to accelerate the development and enhance market success for greener products. Some of the most expensive and frustrating failures occur when our products or processes unintentionally have an adverse impact human health and the environment. By integrating the knowledge and experience of a diverse community of creative individuals, at the point of invention, and addressing these challenges in a systematic way, one has the potential to significantly improve the success and accelerate the adoption of sustainable products into the market.


Another member of the hub, Oregon RAIN provides training, advisory services and networking support to early growth stage companies. Currently there are nine companies participating in an intensive 16-week training program that attracts a robust community of mentors and local entrepreneurs into the space to share their experience and provide advice and connections. Add to that mix a vibrant, creative community of local artists and UO design students who share a passion for sustainability and you have the opportunity to connect design and innovation to the science of sustainability.


On any given day the place is alive with conversation. During a single visit to the facility you can engage with graduate students in STEM disciplines working through Lens of the Market SM curriculum that provides a rapid introduction to the vocabulary, skills and tools for scientists to evaluate the market potential of their research. Alternatively you can help students refine their product ideas and prototypes by participating in an interdisciplinary design critique with students and faculty from across campus. These types of interactions not only build skills around innovation and product design but they also provide a unique environment for professional development.


Built in the heart of downtown Eugene, the facility strengthens the cluster of creative industries and technology initiatives within the downtown core. The hub at 942 Olive provides a foundation for a holistic and integrated approach to sustainability that celebrates collaboration and inclusion and invests in the education and training of this community so that it can actively design a more sustainable future. In addition to connecting to the city, the hub is a conduit to the region and the world and participants are actively seeking external collaborators. Please contact Julie Haack if you are interested in adding your perspective and experience to the mix.


The three million dollar project was funded through a combination of funds from the Oregon state legislature, the University of Oregon and the Alice C. Tyler Perpetual Trust. For more information on 942 Olive, visit the UO's Innovate website.




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Why did Walmart Take the Unusual Step to Tackle Chemicals?

July 29, 2016 | Environmental Defense Fund


Walmart recently announced progress on its groundbreaking Sustainable Chemistry Policy, a 2013 plan that set the stage for some 700 suppliers to rethink how they make more than 90,000 home and personal care products.


Kavli Fellow Travels to Indonesia news roundup 22-29.PNG

July 28, 2016 | San Diego State University


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the spiders that Greg Holland encounters must feel very flattered indeed. The San Diego State University assistant professor of analytical chemistry studies the molecular structure of spiders’ silk and how they spin it.


Carbon XPrize Ams to Reimagine CO2

July 28, 2016 | Gizmag


A total of 47 entries from seven countries are set to take part in a competition aimed at finding new ways to convert carbon dioxide into valuable products. The NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize will award US$20 million in prizes to the teams that develop the best breakthrough technologies for "reimagining CO2."


Broad Consortium Scales Up Production of Bio-Aromatics From Waste

July 28, 2016 | Recycling Portal


Turning waste, that would otherwise be incinerated or end up in landfill, into valuable raw materials for the chemical industry is the challenge being undertaken by a consortium of 12 companies over the next 18 months. Biodegradable waste, nappies, compost and sieving material from wastewater will be converted to aromatic compounds, such as those used in the production of plastics.


What's Next for Green Chemistry? Join The Guardian for this One-Day Event

July 27, 2016 | The Guardian


In a year punctuated by toxic chemistry crises – including the Flint River scandal and large-scale water pollution in upstate New York – green chemistry offers an increasingly relevant route toward a healthier, more sustainable society. The Guardian Green Chemistry Conference will explore the green chemistry advances that are improving our world, and the innovative partnerships and funding tools that are making them possible.


How do Pesticides Protect Crops?

July 27, 2016 | Science Daily


New research could lead to the fine-tuning of pesticide formulations to further increase crop yield. The findings also show a way to develop advanced performance formulations which will interact reversibly with plant surfaces and will leave their protective cuticles unharmed. They are now using the model at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's ISIS Neutron and Muon Source research facility to study how surfactants, a key component in pesticide formulations, interact with the leaf surface to get into the plant and take effect.


Dandelions, The Scourge of Lawns, May be a Fount of Rubber

July 25, 2016 | C&EN


In Katrina Cornish’s test fields, weed control is a big issue. Weeds are a problem for most farmers, but it’s an ironic one for the Ohio State University researcher, since she’s growing dandelions. Cornish and her group at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences are growing a special variety of dandelion from Kazakhstan known by the scientific name Taraxacum kok-saghyz.


Four Costa Rican Scientists' Excellent Adventure

July 25, 2016 | The Tico Times


Like the country’s national soccer teams, this Sele is a group of the most talented young people from around the country who have gained international recognition, jetted off to Europe and arrived as welcomed guests. And yet there is not a soccer ball in sight when this team gets together: these all-stars kick around ideas instead.




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Creation of Evertree, A New International Actor in Renewable Chemistry

July 20, 2016 | Bio Based


Evertree offers plant-based alternatives to traditional VOC-emitting chemicals found in these products.  The first application will target the wood composite panel industry and will help to reduce or even remove the presence of, and exposure to, formaldehyde.


Researchers Study Whether Renewable Is Always Betternews roundup 17-22.PNG

July 19, 2016 | 4 Traders


Making plastics from plants is a growing trend. It's renewable, but is it better?  A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers examines the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of three plant-based plastics at each stage of production compared with that of their common fossil fuel-based counterparts.


School’s Out but Learning Continues in Yale Summer Programs for New Haven Students

July 19, 2016 | Yale News


This summer, as in years past, hundreds of New Haven students are participating in summer programs hosted by Yale in science, medicine, arts, and humanities. Claudia Merson, director of public school partnerships at the university’s Office of New Haven & State Affairs, said Yale is committed to using its resources to provide opportunities for local New Haven students.


Grinding Chemicals Together in an Effort to be Greener

July 18, 2016 | New York Times


The timer started, and a middle school student named Tony Mack began his first chemistry experiment. As he weighed chemicals under a graduate student’s supervision, his father, James, a chemist at the University of Cincinnati, assembled glassware next to him, engrossed in his own experiment.


Students Attend Summer School For Green Chemistry

July 18, 2016 | C&EN


The annual ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry & Sustainable Energy took place on June 21–28 at Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colo. The program engaged 54 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America in a week of lectures, poster presentations, and problem-solving activities.


California Unveils Its First Green Chemistry Regulations for Children’s Foam-Padded Sleeping Products with Fire Retardants

July 18, 2016 | Lexology


Following up on the breakthrough amendments to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), California has reasserted its intention to proceed with its Green Chemistry Initiative to require substitution of safer chemicals in consumer products. On July 15, 2016, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released its first proposed “Priority Products List” regulations under the California Safer Consumer Products (SCP) Program.




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During the GC&E conference in June, we had a chance to catch up with Rick Glover, a chemistry teacher at Bellevue College in Washington State. In an interview, he discussed how he gets community college students into the lab and engaged in real-world sustainability challenges.


Q: How were you introduced to green chemistry?


A: I started off my academic career as an environmental scientist, and I saw that the regulation of pollutants worked sort of like a snake eating its tail. If we just try to regulate, monitor and pull out harmful chemicals as we find them in the environment, we’re inherently missing the opportunity to design safer chemicals. Using that approach, we’ll never be able to catch up to all the problems created.  I wanted to get on the front end of that, and it’s what drove me toward green chemistry. I wanted to better understand the materials we produce and their impacts on and fate in the environment.


There have been a couple of talks at the GC&E conference on persistent organic pollutants, and the problems we face on trying to clean those out of our water are pretty crazy. In my opinion, approaches to these problems have to be more holistic.


A lot of my work at my community college has pivoted toward getting students I teach into the lab, rather than on research I started previously. I’ve tried to address questions like, how do you get students to understand the real processes involved in science? And, how do you get students to really gain an understanding of where chemicals will end up in the environment?



Q: What have you found most beneficial in getting students involved in green chemistry?


A: It’s great to get students involved through topics that they’ve either seen in the media or can relate to in their everyday lives. For one of our projects last term, some students were trying to find micro-plastics in sea salts. There was an ACS paper that came out last November that discussed finding these plastics, so it was captivating for the students. They could look at the same roadblocks discussed in the paper and say, okay, we think we’ve found these but how can we reasonably assess that this is what we’ve found? There was another student whose family eats a lot of rice, and she was using the ICP-MS to analyze the amounts of arsenic in different commercially available rice products since rice is one of those products that happens to bio-accumulate arsenic. So it’s really beneficial to get projects that students are interested in and that affect their daily lives.


Another project that a student has run with is around the effects of neonicotinoids on honey bee populations, which is a huge and broad topic. I’ve been really excited about his progress. He took this project initially thinking he could address many parts of this issue, but he’s realizing that much of science is addressing in incremental steps what you can do to help solve a larger problem. Learning to isolate something out of an environmental matrix is very difficult, but instead of shying away from this challenge he’s volunteering to come back this summer to continue to work on this project. It has led him to work on developing new research-based undergraduate labs so that a broader swath of the undergraduates can experience what real research is rather than “cookbook” chemistry.


Q: When you have students looking at these environmental impacts do you discuss preventing these problems and designing to avoid them?


A: Not as much of that comes on the research side, but rather on the teaching side. We discuss, for example, some of the problems in our region around Puget Sound. One of the big issues is ocean acidification and its impact on the local shellfisheries. A discussion we always have is, okay, why do we have this problem? Well, one of the obvious answers is that we need to stop burning fossil fuels. Then we move to, okay, if we’re not burning fossil fuels then from where are we going to get the energy? We discuss CO2 being in a thermodynamic sink and needing some way to get out of there. It’s nice to be able to show students that it requires a fundamental chemical understanding of these problems to solve them.


Q: How do you think incorporating green chemistry into a community college is different than in a four-year college?


A: The amount of time that I have to do research is minimal. It’s not really built into my load, so I’ve developed a class that allows me to teach research to undergraduate students. It’s open-access, so anybody can come into that class. It’s different from the model of hand-picking students for research because I’ve found that sometimes students who don’t excel at coursework do excel at research. Because there’s no right answer, it’s not always the book-smart students who are the best researchers. We hope they build the ability to address the question: what can be done with both good and bad data? Sometimes we sacrifice the time it takes to get research results in exchange for the ability to teach students about a method.


Q: Do you have any input on the conference so far? What brought you here?


A: The conference has been really exciting. I’m looking forward to the educational talks to help me bring in new labs and concepts into my teaching. I spent some time this morning in the carbon dioxide catalysis session because it’s something I’ve been interested in, so it’s really cool that there are so many different topics we can learn about here as well as reinforcing the mainstays of green chemistry.




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When I last wrote, we were gearing up for the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, I mentioned the LAUNCH Big Think and the HESI workshop on Alternatives Assessment; it seems like years ago.  While I had hoped to write something last month about just how awesome the GC&E Conference was, I simply did not have the time. The Conference week was a blur, starting with the student workshop on Monday and ending with the Green Chemistry Education Roadmap workshop on Saturday. That Sunday, I went to Colorado for the Summer School on Sustainable Energy and Green Chemistry and that was followed by a trip to Alaska to speak at the ACS Northwest Regional meeting. I managed to squeeze in a little down time in Alaska before our Separation Alternatives to Distillation workshop held last week in Maryland, and it has certainly been a challenge to keep all these initiatives going. In case you didn’t know it, the ACS GCI staff is incredible and I’m amazed and grateful for how the team has continued to deliver on all these events and initiatives!


IMG_8857.jpgThe 20th Annual GC&E was, in my opinion, a resounding success. The conference had 534 registrants and that is a record over the 20-year history of the conference. There were, as there inevitably are, a few blips, but none of those rose to the level of anything more than a temporary inconvenience thanks to the timely intervention the ACS GCI team. Thanks to the program and session chairs, the technical programming was outstanding and all the extra events throughout the week ensured that a high level of energy, enthusiasm and engagement was maintained.  I’d like to say once again that we owe a debt of gratitude to all the volunteers and the tireless efforts of the ACS GCI team that made this conference such a success. We are looking to build on the success of this year as we develop our 2017 conference around green chemistry and engineering in making or manufacturing things; stay tuned but be sure to participate in the call for symposia that is now open.


The Education Roadmap Workshop brought together about 25 educators and industrial participants for an intensive 1 and half day workshop. It was a bit daunting to hold this workshop the same week as the GC&E Conference, but the workshop succeeded in expanding and focusing the work that was started in the Fall Visioning workshop. Participants were asked to think about what kinds of skills and competencies chemists should have when they graduate with a degree in chemistry.  As a result of engaging with a wide diversity of educators and industry people, we are rethinking and reframing some of the thoughts that came out of the Visioning Workshop. It is clear that this is a process and a long-term initiative and we are grateful for the strong commitment we obtained from the workshop participants to see this initiative through its next steps.  I’ll have more to say about this effort in the future, so stay tuned.


The ACS Summer School on Sustainable Energy and Green Chemistry is always a high point of the summer. Dr. Mary Kirchhoff assembles a great line-up of faculty to speak and the students are always fully engaged with some challenging content. There was an abundance of applicants to the school this year and Mary certainly was challenged in choosing those who ultimately attend.  This is an event that participants talk about and remain connected with each other for years as a result of being there.  Thankfully, many past participants have continued to be active in green chemistry and engineering. We are very grateful to the Petroleum Research Fund for supporting this work over many years, and to the Colorado School of Mines for being such great hosts.


I was grateful for the opportunity to speak at the ACS Northwest Regional Meeting. Alaska is a very different state compared to the lower 48, and a place of incomparable beauty.  I was there shortly after the summer solstice, so seeing light for the better part of 24 hours was certainly strange.  There were a collection of interesting sessions and it was a great opportunity to hear about the unique chemistry and chemical processes that occur in the environment at extremely low temperatures and northern latitudes; not something I’m usually exposed to and speaks to the diversity of chemistry that is all part of the ACS.


The ACS GCI Chemical Manufacturers Roundtable has been working very hard on the AltSep technology roadmap; a roadmap for separation alternatives to distillation.  The workshop held last week brought together about 34 outstanding people, predominantly academic, to discuss research needs that will allow us to exploit different molecular properties for separating complex mixtures. Distillation is such an entrenched, robust and well-understood separation technology that is difficult to imagine using other separation approaches that can compete on cost and performance. The Achilles heel of distillation is, of course, energy, and in that there is considerable opportunity.  We look forward to a third workshop in about three weeks that will further expand the roadmap into process simulation and design.  Like the education roadmap effort, this effort lays the groundwork for what are hopefully some truly transformational outcomes.



Overall, I’m very excited and energized by these activities and how they are progressing.  I hope we might continue to engage an ever-widening circle of chemists and engineers to move these initiatives forward.  Please do think about how you might get involved; we need everyone to be a part to succeed. As always, please do let me know what you think.





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Contributed by Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, Director, ACS Education Division


PORTLAND, Ore.—Before the ubiquitous cell phone came on the scene, people used physical road maps to figure out how to drive from Point A to Point B. The road atlas of the U.S. was our constant companion during a family vacation driving from Silver Spring, Maryland to Yellowstone National Park in 1994. Road maps remain valuable tools (especially those accessible from your phone) when traveling, but the term “road map” has a second meaning according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: A plan for achieving a goal.


The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) began exploring the creation of a Green Chemistry Education Roadmap in 2012, and efforts focused on achieving this goal have accelerated over the past four years. A survey of faculty was conducted in 2015 to assess current chemistry teaching practices, the importance of teaching select green chemistry concepts and barriers to curriculum changes. Over 500 faculty responded to the survey, 84 percent of whom noted that it is essential for students to understand chemical hazards and exposure, including identifying environmental, safety and health hazards, and selecting and designing chemicals that are less hazardous alternatives to known chemical and products. Seventy percent of the respondents indicated that an overcrowded curriculum was the biggest barrier to teaching green chemistry concepts, which indicates the need to integrate green chemistry concepts and practices into the existing curriculum.


In September 2015, a visioning workshop brought together key stakeholders to articulate a vision for the roadmap and identify the future state that will be achieved through the roadmap. The vision for the roadmap that emerged from the workshop was “Chemistry education that equips and inspires chemists to help solve the grand challenges of sustainability.” Discussions during the workshop focused on the current state of chemistry education and the steps needed to achieve the vision, at which point all chemistry will be green.


This discussion laid the foundation for a draft set of green chemistry core competencies, which were developed following the visioning workshop.  The four draft competencies embody the knowledge, skills, and abilities that a chemistry or chemical engineering graduate should possess:


  1. Graduates will be able to design and/or select chemicals that improve product and sustainability (societal/human, environmental and economic) performance from a life cycle perspective.
  2. Graduates will be able to design and/or select chemical processes that are highly efficient, that take advantage of alternative feedstocks, and that do so while generating the least amount of waste.
  3. Graduates will understand how chemicals can be used/integrated into products to achieve the best benefit to customers while minimizing life cycle sustainability impacts.
  4. Graduates will be able to think about and make decisions taking into account life cycle thinking and systems analysis.


These competencies provided the framework for the roadmapping workshop held in Portland, Oregon in June 2016.  An expanded group of stakeholders identified a set of core elements that underpin each competency. For example, in order to achieve competency three, students need to understand integrated product design; understand product impact, function, and performance; and understand and apply life cycle thinking. Workshop participants further analyzed these core elements and proposed knowledge objectives embedded within the core elements. Continuing with competency three to illustrate this approach, some knowledge objectives include understanding how to start with function and design; realizing that customer desires can lead to many product concepts; and understanding the basis of formulation.


A critical insight during the workshop was that the overarching competency that distinguishes this roadmap from the way chemistry is currently taught is systems thinking, which may serve as the anchoring concept in reforming chemistry education to help solve the grand challenges of sustainability. Workshop participants also noted that changes in the curriculum should be accompanied by changes in pedagogy.


The roadmapping workshop advanced the development of the roadmap itself, and much work lies ahead to fully develop this strategy. Ongoing and future activities include creating an inventory of available resources; communicating roadmap progress at conferences; designing professional development opportunities; and facilitating collaborations between chemistry and chemical engineering departments.


A critical component in developing the roadmap is community engagement, and we invite you to share your thoughts and ideas at




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Contributed by Ashley Baker, Research Assistant, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


When Dr. Kirschneck arrived at the 20th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference he wasn’t certain he’d find an audience interested in his work around process intensification. Would the attendees be more focused on academic research and uninterested in a company like his? By the time I interviewed him on Thursday afternoon—the last day of the conference—he found himself thoroughly impressed by the interactions he’d seen amongFlow Chemistry2_Microinnova.jpg members of industry and academia as well as the quality of technical talks and presentations made by his peers.


When he founded Microinnova Engineering GmbH in 2003, Dr. Dirk Kirschneck’s goal was to develop solutions in the field of micro-reactor technology and micro-chemical engineering (small-scale chemical processing). As his business grew and the market shifted, he extended the company to include continuous chemical processing and process intensification. Over the last decade, Austria-based Microinnova has provided solutions to a range of clients, including some of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies, helping them to develop safer, faster, more efficient chemical processes while reducing waste and energy consumption in their industrial-scale systems. These innovations, in turn, help companies to reduce operating costs while the environment also benefits.


During the interview, Dr. Kirschneck explained that the technology necessary to solve such challenges doesn’t always exist. Continuous processing faces particular challenges around solids, but there are already some solutions. For example, scientists at Microinnova have found that melting substances for direct injection into a reactor can greatly reduce the need for solvents. Last year, Microinnova built a plant to apply this technology on a large scale. In addition, they’ve built two plants for continuous crystallization.


Flow Chemistry_Microinnova.jpgMicroinnova’s team of nearly a dozen R&D specialists is constantly innovating new strategies. “Our aim is to make a process the best it can possibly be, whether it’s a chemical process, a work-up process, or a formulation process,” says Kirschneck. “That’s the vision that fuels Microinnova. We have many tools now that we can use to make sure every molecule is made in the best way.” Always on the lookout for new approaches, Kirschneck came to GC&E hoping to find new inspirations. A presentation at the conference on solvent selection, among others, has given him new perspective on some of Microinnova’s current challenges.


Whether it’s re-designing a chemical route or exploring a reduction in size of a manufacturing facility, Dr. Kirschneck is Employees at work_Microinnova.jpgoptimistic about the new technologies Microinnova is developing and industry engagement in green chemistry and engineering, “For process, it’s important that we see industry involvement, and that’s very present here [at the GC&E Conference]. There are many types of people interacting around a wide range of topics that can contribute to our work.”


It’s been more than a decade since Microinnova first began providing sustainable process solutions, and the needs of industry have changed in that time—for the better. “In the past,” he explained, “companies were more focused on fixing a single problematic step. Now, we’re seeing them ask for more end-to-end, holistic solutions.”



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Contributed by Jane E. Wissinger, Professor and Organic Lab Director at the University of Minnesota


Since introducing the first green experiment into my organic chemistry laboratory curriculum ten years ago, it has been a personally and professionally exhilarating ride. From the beginning, the response from students was overwhelmingly positive with 93% affirming they “valued the inclusion of green chemistry in the curriculum.” Moreover, undergraduate students and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) were inspired by the topic and began inquiring about research opportunities in my jane.jpglaboratories, how they could learn more about green chemistry, or how they could contribute to the field.


The wave has swelled, and today my curriculum includes a line-up of experiments which exemplify greener alternatives for each element of a reaction—renewable starting materials, greener solvents, use of catalysts, minimal energy requirements, benign products, and by-products—while still teaching the techniques, instrumental analyzes, and problem-solving skills targeted in laboratory learning outcomes. Many of these curriculum materials are the product of my undergraduates and GTA researchers.  In developing green experiments they gained knowledge of the field, translated research publications into simple, scalable procedures and, in some cases, made new discoveries. Even more compelling was the opportunity for the curriculum developers to share in the nervousness and excitement of seeing their protocols performed by hundreds of other students. These first implementation days were both memorable and “win-win.” Students in the class were excited to be part of a new project and a greener, safer approach to chemistry. The “inventor” was invested in seeing the experiment succeed and was proud of his or her accomplishments and the potential impact on the diverse population of students in the class.


One of the first green experiments published from our laboratories involved improving upon an “old” transformation commonly used in teaching laboratories—the oxidation of borneol to camphor. A graduate student was interested in pursuing a teaching career and passionate about gaining experience in green methodologies. The outcome of his research is an experiment based on literature precedent for the oxidation of secondary alcohols to ketones using Oxone and a catalyst. Our innovations include using a two-phase system of ethyl acetate and water and using the benign catalyst, sodium chloride, to replace “fancier” catalysts such as IBX. We have been thrilled to see this experiment adopted by many other teaching laboratories and included in a popular organic chemistry laboratory textbook.


As another example, a novel experiment based on state-of-the art sustainable polymer technologies was developed by a first year graduate student entering the field. This work, funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant and the NSF CCI Center for Sustainable Polymers, represents modern approaches to synthesizing  block copolymers using renewable monomers with design for degradation. The current inquiry-based experiment used in my course was the result of contributions from five different undergraduates/graduate students, and collaboration with a professor from a small neighboring liberal arts college. For me, sharing potential solutions to today’s plastics through this extended network of researchers/future scientists and the thousands of students enrolled in the introductory organic laboratory course satisfies my goals of demonstrating the power of green chemistry in addressing a compelling and relevant societal problem.


For those of you yet to incorporate green chemistry, I encourage you to “catch the wave.” In the last 20 years, a portfolio of publications has now made it possible to find a green replacement experiment for almost every type of reaction commonly used in the (organic) chemistry laboratory curriculum. Your students will appreciate being taught modern science centered on sustainable practices, the field of chemistry will be portrayed in a positive, relevant, and innovative light to the non-majors, and chemistry majors will be prepared to meet the needs of industrial employers eager to hire students trained in green chemistry principles.




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Greenpeace Calls Out Leading Fashion Brands in ‘Detox Catwalk’

July 14, 2016 | Triple Pundit


The global fashion industry has a massive impact on the environment. This impact extends from the pesticides used to grow fibers such as cotton to the impact textile dyes have on water in countries where regulations tend to go unenforced.


Green Chemistry Is The Path To Chemical Safety

July 14, 2016 | Huffington Post


On June 22nd, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was signed into law, bringing the first legislative reform to chemical management regulation in 40 years!


Not Every Teacher Takes the Summer Off

July 13, 2016 | Kota Territory News


The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is leading 24 middle and high school science teachers through hands-on green chemistry investigations that they can take back to their classrooms.


Why Water is More Expensive than Most Companies Think

July 13, 2016 | Green Biz


When it comes to managing their operations, savvy businesses know that efficient material use is crucial to improving the bottom line. However, when it comes to water, many companies fail to plan for water shortages until the problem becomes acute.


New Insight into How Plants Make Cellulose

July 12, 2016 |


A Manchester and Dundee collaboration has found out more about one of the most abundant biological substances on the planet. Professor Simon Turner from The University of Manchester and Dr Piers Hemsley from the University of Dundee and James Hutton Institute, have been studying cellulose.


Rare-Earth Market

July 12, 2016 | Foreign Policy


Most people have no idea what’s in an iPhone. Yttrium and praseodymium don’t exactly roll off the tongue, but they’re part of what make smartphones so small, powerful, and bright. These exotic materials are among the planet’s 17 rare-earth elements, and surprisingly, the soft, silvery metals are not at all rare. But they’re found in tiny concentrations, all mixed together, and usually embedded in hard rock, which makes them difficult — and messy — to isolate.


Policy: Five cornerstones of a global bioeconomy

July 12, 2016 | Nature


More than 40 nations are proposing to boost their 'bioeconomy' — the part of the economy based in biology and the biosciences. Around US$2 trillion of products in agriculture and forestry, food, bioenergy, biotechnology and green chemistry were exported worldwide in 2014, amounting to 13% of world trade, up from 10% in 2007.


World’s First Full-Scale Bio Plant Will Sort Waste from 110,000 Homes Annually

July 11, 2016 | Sustainable Brands


Danish cleantech company DONG Energy is constructing the world’s first full-scale bio plant capable of handling household waste by means of enzymes. The REnescience plant in Northwich, in the North West of England, will be able to sort 15 tonnes of waste per hour or 120,000 tonnes per year – equivalent to the amount of waste from almost 110,000 homes in the United Kingdom (UK).


A Sustainable Future is #Biobased

July 11, 2016 | AG Wired


BioBased Technologies, LLC (BBT) was just one of the biobased manufacturing companies that made the trip to Washington, D.C. as an exhibitor and participant in the 2016 United Soybean Board (USB) Biobased Stakeholders’ Dialogue, and BBT exhibitor Terri Mallioux was on hand during the event to discuss how the company’s manufactured materials are improving the sustainability of a multitude of American products in ways that most Americans aren’t aware of yet.




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Selective Deoxygenation of Biomass-Derived Bio-oils within Hydrogen-Modest Environments: A Review and New Insights

July 7th, 2016 | Wiley


Research development of processes for refining bio-oils is becoming increasingly popular. One issue that these processes possess is their high requirement for H2 gas.


Replacing Oil With Wood for The Production of ChemicalsGC+News+Roundup.png

July 6th, 2016 | Science Daily


Two research projects have developed new processes to replace petroleum with wood for the production of important chemicals.

These precursors are used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, plastics or fertilizers, report researchers.


This New Material Could Help Produce Cheap Hydrogen From Water

July 5th, 2016 | Fast Company


Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen isn’t that hard, but it is expensive, in part due to the precious metals needed for the catalyzers used in the process. A new method, which uses cheap electrocatalysts to do the job, could make hydrogen fuel a practical alternative to fossil fuels.


Probabilistic Diagram for Designing Chemicals with Reduced Potency to Incur Cytotoxicity

July 5th, 2016 | RSC


Toxicity is a concern with many chemicals currently in commerce, and with new chemicals that are introduced each year.


Chemists Make Breakthrough in Carbon Capture

July 4, 2016 | PHYS


Scientists from the University of York have developed an innovative new green method of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power stations, chemical and other large scale manufacturing plants.


Green Chemistry Celebrates 25 Years of Progress

July 4th, 2016 | C&EN


For chemists and chemical engineers, it’s not easy being green. It’s a creative challenge to choose safer reagents and solvents, design more efficient catalysts, develop cleaner chemical manufacturing processes, use bio based materials when possible, and find better ways to dispose of or recycle waste.



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