The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation and use of hazardous substances. 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.
“We congratulate these industrial pioneers and leading scientists on their remarkable technologies,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “These innovations will help American businesses by reducing costs and opening up new markets for more environmentally friendly products and services.”
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. However, Brontide™ is produced by fermenting E. coli using renewable sugars in a one-step production process. This 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. The new process improved manufacturing efficiency and sustainability of one important antiviral by more than 85%. This 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. 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. Pure-Cut™ can improve performance and machining tool lifespan 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 like fish and bees. 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. This year’s awards have special meaning because it’s also the 30th anniversary of the Pollution Prevention Act, which focuses industry, government, and public attention on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and raw materials use. Green chemistry and pollution prevention work hand in hand to stop pollution at its source, resulting in less waste, economic growth, and protection of public health.
During the 24 years of the program, EPA and the American Chemical Society, which co-sponsor the awards, have received more than 1,600 nominations and presented awards to over 120 technologies that decrease hazardous chemicals and resources, reduce costs, protect public health and spur economic growth. Winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of hundreds of millions of pounds of hazardous chemicals and saving billions of gallons of water and trillions of BTUs in energy.
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.
More information: https://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry