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‘Green’ chemistry winners

By Dorothy Lozowski |

The challenge to create more sustainable and environmentally friendly processes and products is one that many individuals and companies are taking on, and progress continues to be made. Goals such as reduction in raw material use, water conservation, renewable energy expansion and use of non-hazardous materials are some of the areas where efforts abound. In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; Washington, D.C.; www.epa.gov) honored four achievements that apply innovative technologies that turn potential problem areas into opportunities by developing safer and more environmentally sustainable processes. Details about the award and selection criteria can be found on the EPA’s website. The four winners of the 2019 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are described here (Source: EPA).

Greener Reaction Conditions Award — Washing Systems, LLC (WSI; Loveland, Ohio; www.washingsystems.com) was honored for developing an alternative to traditional commercial laundering that uses more biodegradable surfactants and eliminates phosphates, alkalis (sodium hydroxide) and nonylphenol ethoxylate from wash operations. The company’s trademarked TRUpath technology was commercialized in 2018 and is said to work at lower temperatures than traditional operations, which reduces energy consumption.

Greener Synthetic Pathways Award — Merck Research Laboratories (Rahway, N.J.; www.merck.com) received this award for developing a more sustainable process for manufacturing ceftolozane sulfate — a component of Merck’s trademarked antiobiotic, Zerbaxa. The innovative change was an implementation of a crystallization-based purification process that is said to reduce material costs by 50% and increase overall yield by more than 50%. The new process is expected to significantly decrease the carbon footprint and energy usage, while also saving water.

Academic Award — Recognition was given to Sanjoy Banerjee, professor of chemical engineering at the City College of New York, and director of the City University of New York Energy Institute, along with Urban Electric Power, Inc., Sandia National Laboratories, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Energy Storage Research Program in the Department of Energy Office of Electricity Urban Electric Power, Inc., for developing large-scale, rechargeable alkaline Zn-MnO 2 batteries. An innovative breakthrough in this technology was the use of chemical dopants (Cu ions) to stabilize the MnO 2 cathodes, allowing them to be recharged. A pilot-scale plant has been built by Urban Electric Power, which is commercializing the battery technology. Batteries based on readily available components, such as Zn and MnO 2, could provide a breakthrough for renewable energy expansion.

Small Business Award— Kalion Inc. (Milton, Mass.; www.kalioninc.com) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge; www.mit.edu) were awarded for commercializing the first microbial fermentation process to produce glucaric acid. Using fermentation in place of traditional routes allows the glucaric acid to be made from a bio-degradable, non-toxic, sugar-based feedstock. ■

Dorothy Lozowski, Editorial Director

Dorothy Lozowski, Editorial Director

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