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2015 Green Chemistry Challenge Award Winners Tackle Climate Change, Water, Biobased Materials

Image credit: LanzaTech

For the 20th year in a row, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing landmark sustainable chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn climate risk and other environmental problems into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.

“From academia to business, we congratulate those who bring innovative solutions that will help solve some of the most critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce the use of energy, hazardous chemicals and water, while cutting manufacturing costs and sparking investments. In some cases they turn pollution into useful products. Ultimately, these manufacturing processes and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. We will continue to work with the 2015 winners as their technologies are adopted in the marketplace.”

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners will be honored at a ceremony this week at the 2015 Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington, DC. The winners are:

  • Algenol in Fort Myers, Florida, has developed a blue-green algae to produce ethanol and other fuels. The algae uses CO2 from air or industrial emitters with sunlight and saltwater to create fuel while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint, costs and water usage, with no reliance on food crops as feedstocks. It has the potential to revolutionize this industry and reduce the carbon footprint of fuel production.
  • Hybrid Coating Technologies/Nanotech Industries of Daly City, California, has developed a safer, plant-based polyurethane for use on floors, furniture and in foam insulation. The technology eliminates the use of isocyanates, which contribute to workplace asthma. This is already in production, is reducing VOCs and costs, and is safer for people and the environment. 
  • LanzaTech of Skokie, Illinois, has developed a process that uses waste gas to produce fuels and chemicals, reducing companies’ carbon footprint. LanzaTech — also the winner of the 2015 SB Innovation Open — has partnered with Global Fortune 500 Companies and others to use this technology, including facilities that can each produce 100,000 gallons per year of ethanol, and a number of chemical ingredients for the manufacture of plastics. This technology is already a proven winner and has enormous potential for American industry.
  • SOLTEX (Synthetic Oils and Lubricants of Texas) in Houston, Texas, has developed a chemical reaction process that eliminates the use of water and reduces hazardous chemicals in the production of additives for lubricants and gasoline. If widely used, this technology has the potential to eliminate millions of gallons of wastewater per year and reduce the use of a hazardous chemical by 50 percent. 
  • Renmatix in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, has developed a process using supercritical water to more cost effectively break down plant material into sugars used as building blocks for renewable chemicals and fuels. This low-cost process could result in a sizeable increase in the production of plant-based chemicals and fuels, and reduce our dependence on petroleum fuels.
  • Professor Eugene Chen of Colorado State University has developed a waste-free and metal-free process that uses plant-based materials in the production of renewable chemicals and liquid fuels. It offers significant potential for the production of renewable chemicals, fuels, and bioplastics that can be used in a wide range of safer industrial and consumer products.

During the 20 years of the program, the EPA has received more than 1,500 nominations and presented awards to 104 technologies. Winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.

An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2015 submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2015 winners. 


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