Green chemistry innovations honored by the American Chemical Society and EPA

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2020 — In conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Chemical Society (ACS) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Award. This program honors innovations that promote the environmental and economic benefits of developing novel green chemistry. The 2020 awardees are being recognized for their contributions in reducing waste and energy usage, as well as enhancing safety across industries.

“ACS is proud to cosponsor the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, which, as this year’s winners illustrate, highlight the vital role of chemistry in building both a healthy environment and robust global economy,” says ACS CEO Thomas Connelly Jr., Ph.D. “I applaud the awardees for their creative solutions in developing products and processes that are safer for consumers and the planet.”

The 2020 winners are as follows:

  • Genomatica, San Diego, 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, N.J., 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, Colo., 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.
  • Steven Skerlos, Ph.D., 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, Mich., 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.

The winners will be celebrated at a ceremony that will take place in Washington, D.C., later this year. EPA and ACS began their collaboration in 1996 and to date have honored 123 winning technologies that have had a profound impact on the environment. More information on the award and past winners can be found at

This year also marks 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, greater economic growth and protection of public health. The ACS Green Chemistry Institute is currently hosting its 24th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering (GC&E) Conference in an all-virtual format June 15-19, with the theme of “Systems-Inspired Design.” This event is free of charge and open to all.

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 its people. The Society is a global leader in 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 specialist in scientific information solutions (including SciFinder® and STN®), its CAS division powers global research, discovery and innovation. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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