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Honoring ‘green chemistry’ achievements

| By Dorothy Lozowski

Honoring ‘green chemistry’ achievements

The 2015 winners of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards have been announced. Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; Washington, D.C.; recognizes innovative technologies that reduce hazards to humans and the environment and the leading scientists who contribute to this end. These achievements are of great interest since developing safer and environmentally sustainable processes is an important goal for the chemical process industries (CPI). Details about the award and selection criteria can be found on the EPA’s website. The winners of the 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, in each of six categories, are described here (Source: EPA). Designing Greener Chemicals Award — Hybrid Coating Technologies/Nanotech Industries (Daly City, Calif.; has developed a plant-based polyurethane for use on floors, furniture and in foam insulation. Conventional polyurethane production involves the use of isocyanates, a hazardous class of chemicals. Hybrid Coating Technologies produces its Green Polyurethane (also known as HNIPU or hybrid non-isocyanate polyurethane) without the use of isocyanates, and according to the company, its patented technology is the only formulation in the world to do so. Greener Reaction Conditions Award — Soltex (Synthetic Oils and Lubricants of Texas; Houston; has developed a process based on a novel solid catalyst for polymerizing isobutylene monomer into polyisobutylene. The solid catalyst eliminates the need for a liquid catalyst that is hazardous to handle and that requires extensive water washing to remove. Soltex’s process significantly lowers the water usage in the process, and reduces the use of a difficult-to-handle material. Greener Synthetic Pathways Award — LanzaTech (Skokie, Ill.; was honored with this award for its gas fermentation process that uses waste gas that might otherwise be vented or flared, to produce useful products and reduce companies’ carbon footprints. Gas streams containing a range of CO and H2 levels can be used to produce ethanol and more. The company’s proprietary microbes can also consume H2-free gas streams. Academic Award — Eugene Chen, professor at the Colorado State University (Fort Collins; was recognized for his work in developing new condensation technology that uses plant-based materials to produce liquid fuels and renewable chemicals. Small Business Award — Renmatix (King of Prussia, Penn.; won this award for developing a process that uses supercritical water, instead of enzymes or acids, to break down biomass for use in bio-based processes. Climate Change Award — Algenol (Fort Myers, Fla.; is the first recipient of this new award category. The company has received this honor for developing a patented technology using blue-green algae that use CO2 to produce fuels such as ethanol.*

CHE_Editor_DL_21Dorothy Lozowski, Editor in Chief

* For more on these topics, see, including Supercritical water process converts biomass to sugars, November, 2011; Microbes convert stack gases to fuels and chemicals, December, 2010; Reliance refinery launches demonstration module for Algenol biofuel-production process, January 21, 2015; and BASF and Renmatix agree on a joint development for the production of industrial sugars from biomass, December 18, 2013