As long as the students get a lot out of it and it helps bring in new value for the company then it's obviously been a great investment for everyone. I can say in the case of working with UCB class on safer preservative and now on oily soil removal, it has absolutely been a win for Method and i certainly hope that the students are learning new things that might not have happened in standard class room discussions.
for example, Billy is now taking his class exercise and has already developed some great new tools on how we screen safer preservatives in a high through put manner. He has made huge progress and explored great new approaches to tackling this long standing challenge. He is now working jointly with several very innovative green chemistry partners to take the learning in all new directions. i feel its been a huge success both for us and hopefully a lot of fun learning, and sense of accomplishment for him.
Thanks for the question--I had two favorite parts:
There were also many other valuable aspects to the course, some of which we touched on in the response to Laura Reyes's question above.
i am constantly learning from Billy. He brings great ideas, he is a brilliant chemist, and besides that he is a ton of fun to work with. He is super to collaborate with and asks great questions that makes me think about challenges in different ways. We always have surprises and that is part of the fun. sometimes the answers are obvious but often we have to go away and think about it. That is what a good partnership is all about.
I am amazed at how much traction the "circular economy" concept is getting these days. I get an article a day on this topic at least. See for example this program Circular Economy - Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The idea is definitely appealing from a waste reduction, resource use perspective, eliminating upstream resource extraction and processing steps. For us old timers, wondering how different this movement is from the old "Industrial Ecology" movement and of course what are the implications for green chemistry objectives? When I have some time I'm going to dig in the CE literature and try to figure it out but if anyone has any thoughts, would welcome them!
Adding to Tom's response, Greener Solutions wasn't compulsory for the chemistry Ph.D program, but is attracting growing interest from students as a great way to complement their coursework/research and learn about some of the exciting challenges outside the ivory tower.
It's a great way to learn about opportunities for positive change from some fantastic mentors, both course instructors and those from industry.
It certainly doesn't hurt to have background in green chemistry but i don't see it as an absolute. We have hired both. as long as applicants are willing to learn and interested in developing with green chemistry in mind it can work. A couple points that are always of interest are applicants that add new skills and perspective to the group, bring energy and passion and want to make better products for the right reason.
yes- green chemistry and materials are part of the requirements but not absolutely coming in the door.
This hasn't been an issue so far. Mainly, I think, because of what the work product is from the collaboration: students create what we refer to as "an opportunity map", outlining a variety of potential solutions and where additional investigation could be fruitful. Which is as far as we can get in a semester. They're not doing lab work or new bench chemistry. Some projects have gone on to further investigation, such as the preservative work that Billy is continuing with Kaj and USDA.
Hi Monica. Great question.
My understanding of Industrial Ecology, as exemplified by the first and most famous park at Kalundborg, is that companies take waste streams and energy from one industrial plant directly as feedstock for their product as in the case of CaSO4 from a power plant SO2 scrubber to make gypsum board (sheetrock). So, it is business-to-business waste exchange.
In the case of the circular economy or wast valorization, it is taking commercial products at end of life and using these as feedstocks for new products. The issue is how to dematerialize products during design (i.e., use less stuff to make them) and design them for reuse, recycle or as feedstocks.
Either way, I think we need to continue to develop both approaches. In each of these, there are a huge number of chemistry challenges such as separations, designing polymers that can be "unzipped" back to their monomers,etc. No lack of opportunities for green chemistry and engineering in the circular economy!