Top Value Added Chemicals: The Biobased Economy 12 Years Later

Read the full post at the ACS Green Chemistry blog.

In 2004, the United States Department of Energy published a landmark report titled “Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass,” in which they highlighted a dozen molecules as the most promising framework molecules that could potentially replace commonly used petroleum-based molecular building blocks. These 12 biobased value-added chemicals would provide prospective routes for everything from biofuels to less toxic paints and adhesives, which can be seen in Figure 1.  Despite the fact that these innovations took almost 13 years to garner attention and be developed on an industrial scale, these molecules now embody the promising future of the biobased economy.  The following update features four biobased chemicals with recent innovations on the market:  Itaconic Acid, Glucaric Acid, 3-Hydroxybutryolactone, and 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural.

​Turning food waste into tires

Read the full story from The Ohio State University.

Tomorrow’s tires could come from the farm as much as the factory.

Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered that food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based filler that has been used in manufacturing tires for more than a century.

In tests, rubber made with the new fillers exceeds industrial standards for performance, which may ultimately open up new applications for rubber.

Sustainable Innovation: What’s Good for the World Can Be Good for Business

Read the full story at Spend Matters.

It is the responsibility of science- and technology-based companies to work with customers and partners around the world to not only help solve their product challenges, but their environmental ones as well. When working environments are positively changed, it encourages ambition and innovation and results in increased certainty, reliability and new revenue streams from additional product lines.

Sustainable ceramics without a kiln

Read the full story at Phys.org.

The manufacture of cement, bricks, bathroom tiles and porcelain crockery normally requires a great deal of heat: a kiln is used to fire the ceramic materials at temperatures well in excess of 1,000°C. Now, material scientists from ETH Zurich have developed what seems at first glance to be an astonishingly simple method of manufacture that works at room temperature. The scientists used a calcium carbonate nanopowder as the starting material and instead of firing it, they added a small amount of water and then compacted it.

Full research article: Bouville F, Studart AR: Geologically-inspired strong bulk ceramics made with water at room temperature. Nature Communications, 28 February 2017, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14655

Polymer additive could revolutionize plastics recycling

Read the full story from Cornell University.

When Geoffrey Coates, the Tisch University Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, gives a talk about plastics and recycling, he usually opens with this question: What percentage of the 78 million tons of plastic used annually for packaging – for example, a 2-liter bottle or a take-out food container – actually gets recycled and reused in a similar way?

The answer, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is just 2 percent. Sadly, nearly a third is leaked into the environment, around 14 percent is used in incineration and/or energy recovery, and a whopping 40 percent winds up in landfills.

One of the problems: Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which account for two-thirds of the world’s plastics, have different chemical structures and thus cannot be repurposed together. Or, at least, an efficient technology to meld these two materials into one hasn’t been available in the 60 years they’ve both been on the market.

That could change with a discovery out of Coates’ lab. He and his group have collaborated with a group from the University of Minnesota to develop a multiblock polymer that, when added in small measure to a mix of the two otherwise incompatible materials, create a new and mechanically tough polymer.

Their work is detailed in a paper, “Combining polyethylene and polypropylene: Enhanced performance with PE/iPP multiblock polymers,” published online Feb. 23 in Science.

Nanomaterials Guidance Under REACH Review

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

In a move that could affect US manufacturers and chemical companies that do business in Europe, the European Chemicals Agency is moving forward with nanomaterial guidance regulations.

Researchers invent a breakthrough process to produce renewable car tires from trees and grasses

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota.

A team of researchers, led by the University of Minnesota, has invented a new technology to produce automobile tires from trees and grasses in a process that could shift the tire production industry toward using renewable resources found right in our backyards.

Conventional car tires are viewed as environmentally unfriendly because they are predominately made from fossil fuels. The car tires produced from biomass that includes trees and grasses would be identical to existing car tires with the same chemical makeup, color, shape, and performance.

The technology has been patented by the University of Minnesota and is available for licensing through the University of Minnesota Office of Technology Commercialization.