By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On June 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. EPA states that this year’s winners “have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that turn potential environmental challenges into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.” The 2020 winners and their innovative technologies are:
- Genomatica, San Diego, California, for creating Brontide™, a new brand of 1,3-butylene glycol, commonly used in cosmetics for moisture retention and as a carrier for plant extracts. Butylene glycol is traditionally produced from fossil fuels. Brontide™ is produced by fermenting E. coli using renewable sugars in a one-step production process, however. This method reduces greenhouse gas emissions and avoids the use of hazardous chemicals in the production process.
- Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for improving the process used to produce certain antiviral drugs used for the treatment of diseases including hepatitis C and HIV. According to EPA, the new process improved manufacturing efficiency and sustainability of one important antiviral by more than 85 percent. This method reduces waste and hazards associated with the existing process and results in substantial cost savings.
- Johns Manville, Littleton, Colorado, for developing a biobased, formaldehyde-free thermoset binder for fiberglass reinforcement applications. Thermoset binders are used to bind glass fibers of fiberglass mats used in carpet tile backing. EPA states that this technology eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals, reduces water and energy use, and produces a product with a longer shelf life.
- Professor Steven Skerlos, University of Michigan and Fusion Coolant Systems, for creating Pure-Cut™, an alternative to traditional metalworking fluids that uses high-pressure carbon dioxide instead of oil-based lubricants. According to EPA, Pure-Cut™ can improve performance and machining tool life span compared to traditional metalworking fluids, while greatly reducing hazards to the environment and worker health.
- Vestaron, Kalamazoo, Michigan, for producing a new biopesticide called Spear®. This pesticide is based on a naturally occurring component inspired by spider venom that can effectively control target pests while showing no adverse effects on people, the environment, and non-target wildlife, such as fish and bees. EPA notes that Spear® should provide growers with a new pest management tool that also lessens environmental impacts.
EPA plans to recognize the winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this year. EPA and the American Chemical Society co-sponsor the awards. An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2020 submissions and made recommendations to EPA for the 2020 winners.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On September 18, 2019, the D.C. Women’s Business Center (WBC) and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) will host the 2019 Just Ambitious Small Business Awards. The awards honor woman entrepreneurs who have demonstrated achievements, innovation, and vision in support of the District of Columbia’s small business community and economic vitality. WBC and NCRC are now accepting applications for the 2019 awards in the following categories:
- NCRC Community Engagement of the Year
- NCRC Youth Entrepreneur of the Year
- Environmental Entrepreneur of the Year
- Start-Up of the Year
- Veteran Woman-Owned Business of the Year
- Woman Empowerment Entrepreneur of the Year
- Womanpreneur Under 40 of the Year
Businesses can be nominated for multiple awards. WBC and NCRC encourage self-nominations. To qualify for the award, applicants must either be or nominate a registered business entity that has been in business for at least one full year. The business must be at least 51 percent woman-owned. Non-profits that devote a significant portion of time to assisting entrepreneurs may also apply. The deadline for application submissions is September 4, 2019, by close of business.
On October 18, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has opened nominations for the 2017 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA). Since 1996, these awards have honored companies and institutions that develop processes and products to help protect public health and the environment. EPA’s strong support for the adoption of green chemistry has helped strengthen the development and commercialization of green chemistry products, leading to significant environmental benefits alongside economic benefits. Previous PGCCA winners annually eliminate 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents and 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide releases, and save over 21 billion gallons of water. There are six award categories for 2017:
|Focus Area 1: Greener Synthetic Pathways;
|Focus Area 2: Greener Reaction Conditions;
|Focus Area 3: The Design of Greener Chemicals;
|Small Business (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a small business);
|Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher); and
||Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change (for a technology in any of the three focus areas that reduces greenhouse gas emissions).
Nominations for these awards are due to EPA by December 31, 2016, with more information about the selection criteria and how to enter on the EPA PGCCA website.
On June 21, 2016, DOE announced the 23 projects that were selected for Phase II funding through the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program. Each SBIR award is for $1 million over the next two years, and helps small businesses advance concepts that improve manufacturing processes, boost efficiency of buildings, increase transportation sustainability, and generate renewable electricity. Phase II winners include:
- Forest Concepts, LLC, for a low energy rotary shear for sub-millimeter particle production that will improve energy balance for advanced biofuels.
- Manta Biofuel, LLC, for development of a high throughput algal dewatering system using magnetic particles.
- MicroBio Engineering, for algal bioflocculation for solid-liquid separation to improve algae harvesting.
On February 1, 2016, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) announced that nominations for the ninth annual George Washington Carver Award were being accepted. The award recognizes an individual who has contributed to building the biobased economy by creating sustainable, environmentally friendly products through industrial biotechnology. Previous recipients of the award include Ellen Kullman, CEO and Chair of the Board at DuPont and Dr. Jay Keasling, Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Nominations for the George Washington Carver Award are due by midnight (EST) on February 19, 2016.
Nominations are also open for the Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biology, honoring a woman who has made significant contributions to the biobased economy and biotech innovation through industrial biotechnology. The BIO Rosalind Franklin Award was created in 2014 with Dr. Debbie Yaver winning the award, and Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech receiving the award in 2015. Nominations for the Rosalind Franklin Award are due by midnight (EST) on February 19, 2016. Both awards will be presented at the 2016 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in San Diego, California, occurring April 17-20, 2016.
The 2016 World Bio Markets Bio Business Awards are now accepting nominations for categories covering people, companies, and projects that have advanced the bioeconomy. The eight categories for the 2016 awards are:
- Biofuels Partnership of the Year;
- Bio-Based Brand of the Year;
- Breakthrough Bio-Based Technology Platform;
- WBM Bio-Based Business Person of the Year;
- Bio-Based Chemical Partnership of the Year;
- WBM Industry Champion 2016;
- Bio-Based Product Innovation of the Year; and
- Biomass Power Project of the Year.
Nominations are due February 19, 2016, and the awards will be presented at the second day of World Bio Markets in Amsterdam on March 15, 2016.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called for nominations for the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA), and companies engaging in green chemistry innovations will want to act quickly as the deadline for nominations is December 31, 2015.
Winning, or even just being nominated for a PGCCA, confers concrete benefits, including increased brand awareness, public relations opportunity, and validation of your product or process by green chemistry stakeholders.
To be eligible for an award, a technology must:
- Be a green chemistry technology with a significant chemistry component;
- Include source reduction (i.e., pollution prevention at the source);
- Have an eligible sponsor (e.g., be a company or non-government organization);
- Have a significant U.S. component;
- Have a significant milestone in its development in the past five years; and
- Fit within one of the three focus areas:
- Greener Synthesis, including greener feedstocks and reagents, more efficient syntheses, and greener catalysts;
- Greener Reaction Conditions, including greener solvents, solvent-free reactions, and greener analytic methods; or
- Designing Greener Chemicals, where the product itself is less hazardous than the incumbent technology.
In addition to awards in each of the focus areas, there are three special award categories:
- Small business; and
- Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change.
Awards in these categories may be in any of the three focus areas as long as they also meet the criteria for the specific category.
Nominating your process or product is an opportunity to tell the story of your technology. You probably already have documents that can form the basis for a nomination, so you will not need to start from scratch. Even if you do not win, EPA typically publicizes the non-winning technologies.
If you have been nominated in the past and not won, as long as your technology is still within five years of a significant milestone, EPA actually encourages you to re-nominate it for an award. If re-nominating, it is advisable to take the opportunity to strengthen your nomination.
On November 4, 2015, EPA announced a request for nominations for the 21st Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (PGCCA). The PGCCA is sponsored by EPA and the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute®. Over the 21 years of the challenge, EPA has recognized 104 new technologies that have saved water, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and reduced the use of many hazardous chemicals and solvents. There are seven award areas covering greener synthetic pathways, greener reaction conditions, greener chemical products, the design of greener chemicals, small business, academic, and specific environmental benefit: climate change. Nominations are due to EPA by December 31, 2015, and will be awarded in June of 2016. Read BRAG's coverage of the 20th PGCCA winners.
On September 15, 2015, the EPA Inspector General (IG) released a report criticizing EPA's use of unverified pollution prevention data for the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (PGCCA). The report, "EPA's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program Lacks Adequate Support and Transparency and Should Be Assessed for Continuation," states that EPA does not verify the validity of the self-reported pollution prevention results of award applicants or differentiate between domestic and international pollution prevention. The IG states that self-reported data risk misrepresenting the true accomplishments and impacts of the award winners and that EPA should not use the self-reported data in its pollution prevention performance metrics until it is able to ensure data quality. In a September 16 story on the IG's report, Bloomberg BNA reported that "EPA's chemical safety and pollution prevention office agreed with three of the inspector's recommendations including developing a process to track the long-term benefits of the innovations it recognizes. The office disagreed with the remaining six recommendations and provided examples of ways it said it already is meeting some of the report's goals, such as integrating the award program's activities to other pollution-prevention actions."
The 12th Annual World Congress On Industrial Biotechnology was held by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) on July 19-22, 2015, in Montréal. Lynn L. Bergeson offered opening remarks at the Women in Industrial Biotechnology Reception, sponsored by BRAG, and spoke on the importance of continuing to fight for gender equality for women working in science and other fields. Ms. Bergeson also opened the Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Materials track, in which Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. presented "TSCA and the Regulation of Biofuels" and "Leveraging 'Green' for Visibility."
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, was presented the Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology at the BIO World Congress. The award celebrates a pioneering woman in the industrial biotechnology sector who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the biobased economy and biotech innovation in honor of Rosalind Franklin. Over 15 female leaders were nominated for the award, and Dr. Holmgren was selected as a result of her work as CEO of LanzaTech, a company that is developing the world's first alternative jet fuel from industrial waste gases using intermediates derived through industrial biotechnology. LanzaTech also won the 2015 Greener Synthetic Pathways Award as part of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge for the novel use of waste gas to produce fuel. Dr. Holmgren's work in the advancement of industrial biotechnology was determined to embody the spirit of Rosalind Franklin and her pioneering role in the biotechnology field.