EPA’s 2023 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards honor innovators

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2023 — Scientific innovations that reduce hazardous emissions and upcycle plentiful agricultural waste were honored today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Green Chemistry Challenge Awards given to their developers. The awards are sponsored by EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention in partnership with the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute, and other members of the chemistry community.  

"The Green Chemistry Challenge Awards demonstrate how sustainable alternatives in chemistry are flourishing and improve upon traditional methods,” says Albert G. Horvath, ACS chief executive officer. “Congratulations to those who contributed to these technologies, which showcase groundbreaking achievements from academia and industry. Through innovative approaches to waste, synthetics and reaction conditions, these developments will steer us toward a greener, more sustainable future.”

The awards were presented by Horvath and EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention Jennie Romer.

The award winners for each category are:

Academic: Richard Laine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is being recognized for developing multiple ways to refine agricultural waste into silica-based intermediates, which may be used in materials like lithium-ion batteries and lithium supercapacitors. Millions of tons of agricultural waste (e.g., rice hulls) are burned for fuel every year in the U.S. and worldwide. The resulting rice hull ash is a material containing large amounts of silica and relatively few impurities.

Greener Synthetic Pathways: Solugen is being recognized for developing Bioforge™, a unique manufacturing platform that uses a chemical process to convert plant-derived substances into essential materials that have historically been made from fossil fuels — all without emissions or waste.

Greener Reaction Conditions: Captis Aire is being recognized for the patent-pending Chemical Adsorption Innovation Reduces Emissions (CAIRE™) Technology, which captures over 90% of the terpenes released from the wood products manufacturing process. It converts them into valuable chemicals, including those used in products such as biofuels, flavors and fragrances. When above normal biogenic levels, terpenes are an air pollutant and an irritant to eyes, lungs and skin.

Design of Greener Chemicals: The Clorox Company is being recognized for designing Clorox EcoClean™ Disinfecting Cleaner. It is a Design for the Environment-certified disinfecting cleaner that can be used without personal protective equipment, will not bleach surfaces, is formulated without alcohol and can be used safely on most surfaces. The product is a lactic-acid based, ready-to-use cleaner that disinfects 99.999% of illness-causing germs in two minutes or less when used as directed.

Small Business: Modern Meadow is being recognized for developing an efficient textile dyeing process called Bio-FREED™ Powered by Bio-Alloy™. Using the Bio-FREED platform, a bio-based protein foam can dye any type of fiber. This revolutionary process conserves 95% of water compared to traditional dyeing methods, reduces energy consumption by 75% and utilizes 80% fewer dyes and chemicals than traditional methods.

Specific Environmental Benefit – Climate Change: Air Company is being recognized for the development of a technology that transforms the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into larger molecules, which can be used to produce other products such as fuels and fragrances. The only byproduct is oxygen gas. The technology both removes carbon dioxide from the air by using it as a chemical reactant and reduces the need for fossil fuels by transforming carbon dioxide into fuels, including aviation fuels.

Nominations for the 2024 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are open. They will recognize businesses, individuals, academic institutions and nonprofits for innovative green chemistry solutions and products. Applications are due to EPA by Dec. 8. EPA will award the developers of green chemistry technology from six categories.


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