FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 15, 2021

Green Chemistry Challenge Awards honor innovators

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2021 — Scientific innovations that decrease or eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals, reduce greenhouse gases and result in a safer and more sustainable product are being honored today with Green Chemistry Challenge Awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Michal Freedhoff, Ph.D., principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the EPA, will announce the award winners at the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, which is being held virtually June 14-18.

“The Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners exemplify how chemistry can be part of the solution to our global environmental challenges,” says American Chemical Society (ACS) CEO Thomas Connelly Jr., Ph.D. “We applaud the chemists and chemical engineers being honored this year for their innovative technology platforms, chemicals and processes that reduce the use of hazardous materials, improve efficiency and increase the recyclability of products.”

The winning technologies are:

Academic: Srikanth Pilla, Ph.D., Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, is being recognized for synthesizing a biobased polyurethane foam from paper and pulp waste that is designed to be fully recyclable. This innovation provides a nontoxic alternative to make products such as automobile seat cushions, furniture and insulation.

Small Business: XploSafe LLC, Stillwater, Oklahoma, is being recognized for creating PhosRoxTM, a porous ceramic material that can absorb excess nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater sources such as aquariums, watering ponds, swimming pools and water features. Once saturated, this material can be used as a time-release fertilizer, preventing water pollution, recycling nutrients and reducing the large environmental footprint of phosphate and nitrogen production.

Greener Synthetic Pathways: Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey, is being recognized for redesigning the synthesis and manufacture of gefapixant citrate, a drug to treat chronic cough. Merck reduced the total mass of materials used to create a unit of the active ingredient five-fold and increased the yield 44%, while reducing the cost of materials six-fold compared to the drug’s original manufacturing route. Flow chemistry was employed to improve process safety, and a life cycle assessment showed the new process would decrease the carbon footprint of production by more than 80%.

Greener Reaction Conditions: Bristol Myers Squibb, New York, is being recognized for developing a new class of sustainable reagents that can be applied to a range of applications, including nucleotide chemistry, a growing area of drug development. The new reagent platform bypasses the traditional approach, reducing solvent and reagent use and improving the stability of the reagents and intermediates, making them safer to use. The innovation also eliminates the need for carbon footprint-intensive cold storage, required by the current approach. 

The Design of Greener Chemicals: Colonial Chemical, Inc., South Pittsburg, Tennessee, is being recognized for developing Suga®Boost biobased, nontoxic, biodegradable surfactants from functionalized alkyl polyglucosides that perform on par with or better than the commonly used alkyl phenol ethoxylate (APE) surfactants. APEs are targeted for replacement because they have poor biodegradability in the environment, have adverse effects on aquatic and terrestrial organisms and humans, and are often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen.

The Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are a collaboration between the EPA and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®. The 2021 award winners will be announced today at the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference at 11 a.m. EDT. At 1 p.m. EDT, the EPA will host “EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Awards — Past and Present,” featuring award-winning technologies from 2021 winners as well as the previous couple of years. Journalists should contact us to request press passes.

The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (GCI) is an institute of the American Chemical Society dedicated to catalyzing the implementation of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemistry enterprise and the Society. ACS GCI convenes industrial roundtables, holds an annual Green Chemistry & Engineering conference (gcande.org), and offers educational resources including grants, awards, webinars and workshops — encouraging scientific innovations to solve environmental and human health issues facing our world today.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Note: ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies.

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