Message from the Director

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

So much has happened since my last Nexus article that I’m not sure I can do justice to everything.  Once again, this is a great problem to have!  In mid-April I was fortunate to be invited to the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico for their 3rd International Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference. I was not sure what to expect beyond the enduring hospitality of the people of Mexico, and I was certainly not disappointed in any way. The University boasts a student population of 167,000 and a Chemistry and Chemical Engineering student population of 4,000. I don’t know too many Universities that can claim that kind of impact. The Conference was a great opportunity for students and faculty to present their work, along with a number of industry people I can only hope that the level of commitment, enthusiasm, interest, respect and ambition could be exported to the U.S.; these students were great to be around and I was very impressed.  Mexico has many opportunities to implement greener chemistry and engineering solutions and I am confident that the students are being prepared to accomplish this.

The following week was the annual Roundtable meeting of the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council, in Portland, OR. The GC3 is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, just like the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. Portland is a great place to have a meeting and I am looking forward to holding the 20th Annual GC&E Conference in Portland next year. The GC3 Roundtable is a different experience than the GC&E Conference since it is limited to about 150 people, and it is a business-to-business oriented meeting. In addition to a variety of speakers and workshops, the GC3 discussed the results of work they had been carrying out on mainstreaming green chemistry and better understanding the business case for green chemistry. This meeting, like many others, impresses upon me the enduring difficulty of implementing green chemistry and engineering solutions across the value chains of the goods and services we all know and use. A disconnect remains between the entrenched interests of the chemical industry and the desires of consumers for the types of chemicals in the products they purchase. I think it is fair to say that there is a considerable amount of innovation that will be required to bridge the current divide.

The ACS GCI Chemical Manufacturers’ Roundtable received great news in early May that their proposal to the National Institute of Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Program was funded. This is a 2-year, $500,000.00 planning grant to develop a roadmap for the development of alternative separations technologies to what is currently the most commonly used separations technology in the chemical processing industries – distillation. Distillation alone accounts for 25% of the energy use in chemical manufacturing, so implementing less energy intensive separations technologies has a strong economic and environmental incentive. The Project Team is looking to parlay the technology roadmap into a sustainable consortium committed to the development and implementation of new technologies.  No small feat in just two years! This project begins June 1 and we are working already to bring the right people together to make this happen. Please do let us know if you have any questions or would like to be a part of this effort.

Last but not least, we are busily preparing for the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference to be held in

N. Bethesda, MD July 14th through the 16th. The Conference Organizers have been working since last July on this conference and it is shaping up to be another great conference. There are so many activities the entire week, beginning with an NSF sponsored workshop for students and the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Awards Ceremony on Monday, and ending with an ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable meeting on Friday. There is so much going on that you simply have to come to be a part of it.  And if you are there, be sure to thank the Technical Program Chairs, the ACS GCI Staff, the sponsors and exhibitors, the ACS GCI Industrial Roundtable members and many others for putting on the best green chemistry event of the year.  I hope to see you there!

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

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