The 2011 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards have been announced. The awards, presented by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Chemical Society (ACS), promotes technology that provides substantial environmental benefits using green chemistry.
Professor Bruce Lipshutz, University of California – Santa Barbara, USA, received the Academic Award for designing a surfactant composed of the safe, inexpensive ingredients tocopherol (vitamin E), succinic acid (an intermediate in cellular respiration), and methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) (a common, degradable hydrophilic group). The surfactant spontaneously forms 50–100 nm diameter micelles in water which serve as nanoreactors for organic reactions, such as cross-coupling reactions. The high concentrations within the nanoreactors lead to increased reaction rates and a reduction in the amount of organic solvent and catalyst required.
BioAmber, Inc. has been awarded the Small Business Award for establishing the first large-scale production facility for biobased succinic acid and creating a portfolio of renewable chemicals and polymers that are made from succinic acid. They are the first company to successfully commercialize a biobased chemical that directly substitutes its petro-chemical equivalent.
The Designing Greener Chemicals Award goes to the Sherwin-Williams Company for their water-based acrylic alkyd paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) made from recycled soda bottle plastic (PET), acrylics, and soybean oil. These paints combine the performance benefits of alkyds and low VOC content of acrylics.
Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. have been awarded the Greener Reaction Conditions Award for a family of halogen-free, high-flow, polymer membranes for the purification of salt water by reverse osmosis. The membranes are made using less solvent and can purify hundreds of times more water than traditional membranes, saving 70 % in membrane costs, and 50 % in energy costs.
The Greener Synthetic Pathways Award goes to Genomatica in recognition of their genetic engineering project which has produced a microbe capable of making the high-volume chemical building block, 1,4-butanediol (BDO). When produced at a commercial scale, Genomatica’s Bio-BDO will be less expensive, require about 60 % less energy, and produce 70 % less carbon dioxide emissions than BDO made from natural gas.