The automobile, the cell phone, the internet— the 20th century was a century of unparalleled innovation and discovery. What technologies and innovation will define the 21st century?
I predict that Green Chemistry innovations will. They are solving some of our most pressing environmental problems, bringing us safer chemicals, reducing energy, waste and water, and improving the bottom line for America’s manufacturing sector. When these groundbreaking technologies hit the marketplace or are applied in manufacturing, their impacts are significant.
For nearly 20 years now, EPA has sponsored the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, in partnership with the American Chemical Society, to recognize cutting-edge Green Chemistry technologies.
The 2013 winners are:
In the academic category, Professor Richard Wool, at the University of Delaware, in Newark, is being recognized for creating several materials from biobased feedstocks such as vegetable oils, chicken feathers and flax which are substitutes for toxic substances and can be used as adhesives, composites, foams, and even circuit boards and as a leather substitute.The result is reduced manufacturing risks, as well as water, energy and hazardous waste during manufacturing.
In the small business category, Faraday Technology Inc., in Clayton, Ohio, is a winner for developing a plating process that allows chrome coatings to be made from less toxic trivalent chrome. This reduces millions of pounds of hexavalent chromium without comprising performance for uses such as aircraft parts.
The winners in the Greener Pathways category include Life Technologies in Austin, Texas, for developing a more efficient, less wasteful way to manufacture key chemicals used to perform genetic testing, which will prevent about 1.5 million pounds of hazardous wastes a year. Manufacturing the chemicals required for these tests is quite wasteful, often producing thousands of times more waste than product.
Dow Chemical Company in Collegeville, PA, is being recognized for improving exterior paints. Dow’s EVOQUE™ technology decreases the amount of a chemical needed, allowing it to work better and significantly reducing manufacturing costs, energy usage, water consumption, NOx and SOx emissions, and algae bloom. Learn about my visit to the facility.
The other winner, Cargill, Inc. in Brookfield, WI, has developed a vegetable oil-based transformer fluid that is much less flammable, less toxic, provides superior performance compared to mineral oil-based fluids and has a substantially lower carbon footprint.
These and other Green Chemistry technologies are making safer chemicals, resulting in a cleaner environment, better health, better products produced more sustainably and at a lower cost — today, tomorrow, and for future generations.
Visit EPA’s Green Chemistry site to learn more.
Jim Jones is the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He is responsible for managing the office which implements the nation’s pesticide, toxic chemical, and pollution prevention laws. Jim’s career with EPA spans more than 26 years. He has an M.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a B.A. from the University of Maryland, both in Economics.