EPA honors green chemistry

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just announced the winners of its 2005 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge. The awards, given in several categories, recognize technologies related to chemical design, manufacture and use that help industry in achieving pollution prevention goals, says the agency. Winners are selected by an independent panel under the auspices of the American Chemical Society.

Winning companies by category are: 

Alternative synthetic pathways:
Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., for commercializing low trans fatty acids and oils made by enzymatic interesterification of vegetable oils. The enzymatic approach eliminates waste streams generated by the conventional chemical interesterification process.

Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., for a simpler route for the production of Aprepitant, an active pharmaceutical ingredient. The process eliminates the production hazards of the previous synthesis technique, significantly cuts energy demand and requires only 20% of the raw materials and water.

Alternative solvents and reaction conditions:
BASF Corp., Florham Park, N.J., for a UV-curable, one-component urethane primer for automotive refinishing. The product contains less than half the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of conventional primers, yet cures faster, is more durable and controls corrosion better.

Designing safer chemicals:
Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., for a reactive coalescent for reducing VOCs in latex paints. The product not only provides the same functions as traditional agents without VOC emissions but also remains and even cross-links into the coating, adding to the overall solids content.

Small business:
Metabolix, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., for its progress in commercializing PHA (poyhydroxyalkanoates) made from renewable resources such as corn. The biodegradable polymers are said to combine the functionality of traditional plastics with biodegradability in a wide range of environments, including soil.

In addition, EPA cited Prof. Robin D. Rogers of the University of Alabama for work on using ionic liquids to dissolve and process cellulose for advanced new materials.

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