On June 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2017 Green Chemistry Challenge Award (GCCA). We applaud this year’s winners. This is EPA’s 22nd year of using the GCCA to honor green chemistry technologies that spur economic growth, reduce costs, and decrease waste. We are saddened that this very successful voluntary program is slated to be defunded in the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget, which, of course, must be approved by Congress and is unlikely to be in its current form. Those who value the green chemistry program may wish to consider contacting their Senators and Representatives to encourage continued support of this highly successful and important program. It has had outsized benefits for such a modestly funded program.
This year's winners and technologies are:
- Merck & Co., Inc. in Greener Synthetic Pathways - Letermovir: A Case Study in State-of-the-Art Approaches to Sustainable Commercial Manufacturing Processes in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Merck’s approach was to design an efficient synthesis as early as possible in the drug Letermovir’s process development. Using “high-throughput” techniques, Merck was able to find a low-cost, stable, and easily recyclable catalyst along with other process improvements that increase the yield, and reduce the raw material costs by 93 percent, the water usage by 90 percent, and the carbon footprint by 89 percent.
- Amgen Inc. and Bachem in Greener Reaction Conditions - Green Process for Commercial Manufacture of Etelcalcetide Enabled by Improved Technology for Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis
Amgen Inc. worked with Bachem to improve the manufacturing process for the active ingredient in ParsabivTM, a drug that treats secondary hyperparathyroidism in adult patients with chronic kidney disease. By redesigning the peptide manufacturing process to use four optimized stages rather than the original five stages, Amgen and Bachem were able to achieve a 500 percent increase in manufacturing capacity while reducing chemical solvent use by 71 percent, manufacturing operating time by 56 percent, and manufacturing cost by 76 percent.
- The Dow Chemical Company and Papierfabrik August Koehler SE in Designing Greener Chemicals - Breakthrough Sustainable Imaging Technology for Thermal Paper
While there is still not a definitive answer as to whether the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in thermal paper may present risk, Dow and Koehler sought an innovative alternative that not only avoids the need for BPA (or analogs that have similar toxicological properties), but also eliminates some of the drawbacks of thermal paper, notably that exposure to sunlight or other heat sources often destroys the image. Together they developed a three-layer paper. The top layer is an opaque, light-color.When heat is applied in the printing head, the hollow particles that make up that opaque layer collapse and become transparent, showing an underlying dark layer only at those points. The paper is designed to work in existing equipment, so there is no need for retailers to replace equipment.
- UniEnergy Technologies LLC in Small Business - The UniSystemTM: An Advanced Vanadium Redox Flow Battery for Grid-Scale Energy Storage
UniEnergy Technologies, LLC (UET) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed and commercialized an advanced vanadium redox flow battery that allows cities and businesses more access to stored energy. The vanadium electrolyte has double the energy density of prior chemistries, and a much broader operating temperature, allowing for a longer lasting battery that can be deployed in nearly any ambient environment on earth. Additionally, the electrolyte, with a chloride-based chemistry complex, is more stable than traditional sulfate-based chemistries, and because it is water-based and does not degrade, the batteries are non-flammable and recyclable.
- Professor Eric J. Schelter of the University of Pennsylvania in Academic - Simple and Efficient Recycling of Rare Earth Elements from Consumer Materials Using Tailored Metal Complexes
Professor Eric Schelter developed a simple, fast, and low-cost technology to help recycle mixtures of rare earth elements (La-Lu, Sc, and Y). These elements are integral to modern technologies, but have a highly energy intensive and waste generating mining, refining, and purification process. Currently, only one percent of these materials are recycled, but Professor Schelter’s group has developed tailored organic compounds that can simply and effectively separate mixtures of these metals. A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant will support further development of this technology to turn these into industrial viable recycling processes.
The GCCA winners were honored on June 12, 2017, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.
With the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) ceremony drawing near, the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) Biobased News and Policy Report decided to go back and revisit some early winners to see what has become of the award-winning product or technology. We will be running a new story each week as we approach this year's awards ceremony, occurring July 13, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT), at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Read previous stories on BRAG's website.
The 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was won by three scientists -- Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs, and Richard Shrock -- for the "development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." Olefin metathesis, a chemical reaction where the groups on the end of two double bonds are exchanged, was originally discovered in the 1950s, but the true scope of metathesis's abilities were not realized until much later. The three Laureates separately focused on metathesis reactions and built upon each other's work to determine not only what metal compounds act as catalysts for metathesis reactions, but created efficient, simple, and environmentally friendly synthesis methods to create many different chemicals. Elevance won the 2012 Small Business Award for using the metathesis catalysts "to produce high-performing, green specialty chemicals at advantageous costs."
Using metathesis catalysts, Elevance began producing specialty chemicals from vegetable oils. Making these chemicals uses significantly less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions when compared to traditional petroleum-based chemicals. The high-value, functional chemicals products combine the benefits of a traditional petrochemical and those of biobased chemicals in a process far more streamlined than was previously possible. This met a commercial demand that was previously unsatisfied, as these metathesis products include multiple desirable qualities such as higher stability in lubricating oils and higher solvency in surfactants. The specialty chemicals that Elevance produces are more effective and sustainable than traditional petrochemicals, while reducing reliance on environmentally hazardous and finite petrochemicals.
When Elevance won the Green Chemistry Award in 2012, the Company was already in the process of building a commercial biorefinery in Indonesia with the ability to produce between 400 million and 800 million pounds of metathesized biobased chemicals. In 2013, Elevance announced that a biodiesel facility in Natchez, Mississippi, would be converted into a second biorefinery with a capacity of 680 million pounds of Inherent™ renewable building blocks being produced by 2016. After winning the Green Chemistry Award, Elevance has continued to expand commercialization and produce biobased chemicals using metathesis catalysts. The Company was a 2015 WBM Bio Business Award Winner, winning Bio-Based Product Innovation of the Year for Elevance Clean™ 1200, a volatile organic compound (VOC)-exempt degreasing solvent. Elevance also won a Bloomberg New Energy Finance: 2015 New Energy Pioneer Award and has been listed on multiple rankings of hot and innovative biobased companies.
Nominations for the 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Awards are now being accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nominations for the awards are due December 31, 2014, and the final awardees are expected to be announced in July 2015. The Awards cover six categories: academic; small business; greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions; designing greener chemicals; and climate change. EPA allows companies to re-submit past nomination packets as long as the technology milestone was within the last five years. EPA reassures submitters that it is definitely worth considering another bite at the apple and past winners have, in fact, been based on re-submissions. The Nomination Package for the 2015 Awards is available on the EPA website.
While it may seem like it was just last week that the 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards were announced, the deadline for the 2015 awards is fast approaching -- December 31, 2014. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reverting back to its original end-of-calendar-year deadline after having a Spring deadline in recent years, and the 2015 awards will be presented in Summer 2015.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards promote the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using novel green chemistry. These prestigious annual awards recognize chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use.
EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention sponsors the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® and other members of the chemical community including industry, trade associations, academic institutions, and other government agencies.
More information is available in the 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Nomination Package.
EPA allows companies to re-submit past nomination packets as long as the technology milestone was within the last five years. EPA reassures submitters that it is definitely worth considering another bite at the apple and past winners have, in fact, been based on re-submissions.
October 16, 2014, was a banner day for green chemistry in the nation's capital with the 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards ceremony, and the Green Chemistry Market Roundtable preceding it. The roundtable included representatives from industry, including the 2014 award winners; EPA and other federal agency officials; and others involved with green chemistry and biobased chemicals and products. BRAG Executive Director, Kathleen Roberts, and Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) Lynn Bergeson were invited guests and participated in the roundtable discussion on green chemistry innovations and strategies for realizing the environmental market potential for these innovations.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards were presented at a ceremony later in the day. There were five categories within the challenge: academic; small business; greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions; and designing greener chemicals. The 2014 winners include Professor Shannon Stahl of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as Amyris, Inc., Solazyme, Inc., QD Vision, Inc., and the Solberg Company. In EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) Assistant Administrator Jim Jones' blog post about the awards and this year's winners, he stated "[t]hese scientists are helping to crack the code and solve some of the most challenging problems facing our modern society. They are turning climate risk and other problems into a business opportunity, spurring innovation and investment. They are reducing waste -- energy, chemicals and water waste -- while cutting manufacturing costs, and sparking investments." EPA has received more than 1,500 nominations in the 19 years of the challenge program. More information on the program and a copy of the EPA press release detailing the technologies of the award recipients are available on the EPA Green Chemistry website.
2015 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Presidential Green Chemistry Award and EPA can be expected to make the awards ceremony a major event. BRAG members and others should start now to think about competing for this prestigious award.
EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards promote the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using novel green chemistry. These prestigious annual awards recognize chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use. Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) member Elevance Renewable Sciences was a Presidential Green Chemistry Award Winner in 2012. While applications for 2014 are due on April 30, 2014, it is not too soon to begin thinking and preparing for a 2015 submission. EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) sponsors the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards in partnership with the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute® and other members of the chemical community, including industry, trade associations, academic institutions, and other government agencies.
Throughout the 18 years of the awards program, EPA has presented awards to 93 winners. Since its inception in 1996 through 2012, EPA has received 1,490 nominations. By recognizing groundbreaking scientific solutions to real-world environmental problems, the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge has significantly reduced the hazards associated with designing, manufacturing, and using chemicals.
According to EPA, through 2013, 93 winning technologies have made billions of pounds of green chemistry progress, including:
* 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents eliminated each year -- enough to fill almost 3,800 railroad tank cars or a train nearly 47 miles long.
* 21 billion gallons of water saved each year -- the amount used by 820,000 people annually.
* 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to air eliminated each year -- equal to taking 810,000 automobiles off the road.
More information is available online.
We are very pleased to announce some of the speakers who are scheduled to participate in the session the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) is hosting May 13, 2014, at BIO World Congress, titled "Commercializing Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Products: The Importance of Successfully and Efficiently Navigating the Regulatory Process":
* Tracy Williamson, Ph.D., Chief, Industrial Chemistry Branch, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, EPA;
* David Widawsky, Ph.D., Director -- Economics, Exposure, and Technology Division of EPA and Manager of the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards; and
* Frank Pacholec, Ph.D., Vice President, R&D/Corporate Sustainability Officer, Stepan Company (Stepan).
Through presentations and panel discussion, this session will fully inform, equip, and assist renewable chemical producers in finding the path of least resistance on the road to commercialization. Topics to be discussed include:
* Overview of the 90-day EPA new chemical notification review process;
* Filling out the Pre-manufacture Notification (PMN) form -- Top Ten Mistakes and How to Avoid Them;
* Challenges posed by chemical identity/nomenclature under U.S. and European Union (EU) law; and
* Leveraging successfully pollution prevention benefits.
The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology is the world's largest industrial biotechnology event for business leaders, investors, and policy makers in biofuels, biobased products, and renewable chemicals. The congress takes place May 12 - 15, 2014, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Early bird registration ends March 31, 2014. Information and registration is available online.