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Green Chemistry: Its Role in Building a Sustainable World

Green Chemistry: Its Role in Building a Sustainable World

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The New York Academy of Sciences

For chemists, it is increasingly becoming important to be green by applying the principles of sustainable chemistry to basic and applied research, production, and education.

Paul Anastas, PhD, director of the Green Chemistry Institute is commonly referred to as the "father" of green chemistry. He will provide a general overview of this topic, outlining the challenges the world faces in sustainability and the next steps for the future. Subsequently, two presentations are planned to cover more specific topics. Joseph DeSimone, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is known for his work on liquid and supercritical CO2, a promising alternative solvent that is environmentally benign, inexpensive, and easily recyclable. Richard Wool, PhD, of the University of Delaware, will cover the synthesis of structurally strong polymers and composites from renewable resources.

The Green Science & Environmental Systems group focuses on the role science and engineering can play in understanding the environment and the development of sustainable processes. This highly interdisciplinary group brings together scientists from a range of disciplines who are interested in understanding the environment and how the design of products and processes can reduce, or even eliminate, substances that cause adverse effects on human health and/or the environment.

The theme of the program for fiscal year 2006-2007 is "Greening the Urban Environment: Evaluating the Science and Hype."


Bio-Based Polymers and Composites
Richard P. Wool

University of Delaware

Recent advances in genetic engineering, composite science, and natural fiber development offer significant opportunities for new, improved green materials from renewable resources that are optionally recyclable, biocompatible and biodegradable, thereby enhancing global sustainability. When such biobased resins are combined with natural fibers (plant and poultry) starch and lignin, new low-cost composites are produced that are economical in many high-volume applications. These high performance composites can be used in construction, furniture, hurricane resistant housing, agricultural equipment, automotive sheet molding compounds, civil and rail infrastructures, marine applications, electronic materials, and sports equipment. The development of biobased materials is consistent with the principles of Green Chemistry and Engineering, which pertain to the design, commercialization and use of processes and products that are technically and economically feasible while minimizing the generation of pollution at the source and the risk to human health and the environment.

Green Chemistry and Engineering Enabled by New Concepts in Fluoropolymers?
Joseph M. DeSimone
, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Fluoropolymer manufacturers are under a lot of scrutiny for the use and release of a persistent organic pollutant known as PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid. PFOA is used by many companies as a surfactant in the manufacture of many different grades of fluorinated materials by heterogeneous polymerization methods in water. Our laboratory has pioneered a PFOA-free process based on using liquid or supercritical carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide technology platform has opened up new possibilities for using "dry" CO2-based processes instead of water and organic solvents in a number of commercially relevant processes ranging from dry cleaning of garments to the development of advanced photoresists for EUV lithography. Beyond these advances, CO2 polymerization processes have triggered new materials and new concepts that enable green chemistry opportunities in high performance fuel cells, photovoltaics, solvent-free imprint lithography, microfluidics, and solvent-free nano-particle molding cal