The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the winners of the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The awards are presented by the EPA and the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute, and recognize chemical technologies from the United States that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use.
The awards were presented at the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, OR, USA, on June 13, 2016.
This year’s Academic Award goes to Professor Paul J. Chirik, Princeton University, NJ, USA, for catalysis with earth-abundant transition metals. Professor Chirik and his team have developed catalysts for the manufacture of silicones, commonly used chemicals in many consumer products such as tires or shampoos. The catalysts do not rely on rare platinum, but instead use readily available metals, such as iron and cobalt. This saves much of the costs, energy, and water needed to mine platinum and could ultimately transform the industrial approach to commercial silicone products.
The companies Albemarle and CB&I are the winners of the Award for Greener Synthetic Pathways. They are honored for their AlkyClean® technology, which makes it safer to produce alkylate, isoparaffins that are used as a clean gasoline component. It is produced by a reaction of isobutane and light olefins, commonly catalyzed by strong, toxic acids such as HF. AlkyClean® uses a solid zeolite catalyst, which is safer and has a lower environmental impact.
The Award for Greener Reaction Conditions goes to Dow AgroSciences LLC for their Instinct® Technology, which improves the effectiveness of nitrogen fertilizers. Usually, soil bacteria quickly convert the nitrogen in fertilizer from the urea or ammoniacal form to nitrate, which can leach out the roots’ surroundings and thus no longer provide nutrients for the plant. Dow has developed a nitrification inhibitor that reduces nitrogen loss through leaching and improves crop yields.
Newlight Technologies receives the Award for Designing Greener Chemicals and Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change. The company has developed a low-cost thermoplastic made from methane-based greenhouse gas, which can be used to make consumer products such as phone cases. The process uses a biocatalyst based on polyhydroxyalkanoate polymerase. The method successfully captures atmospheric carbon, and the resulting polymer is cheaper than petroleum-based products.
The Award For Small Businesses goes to Verdezyne for a process that produces nylon from renewable materials. The company has genetically engineered yeast strains that can produce chemical intermediates such as dodecanedioic acid, which is used in the production of nylon. The process uses lauric acid from waste products of vegetable oil refining and offers an environmentally friendly and safer alternative to fossil-based production.
- Homepage of the Chirik Group, Princeton, NJ, USA
- CB&I, The Woodlands, TX, USA
- Albemarle, Charlotte, NC, USA
- Dow AgroSciences LLC, Indianapolis, IN, USA
- Newlight Technologies, Costa Mesa, CA, USA
- Verdezyne, Carlsbad, CA, USA