Plastic products made from renewable resources are among the entries featured prominently in this year's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.
This year's awards also honor a paint made in part from recycled plastics, and polymer membranes used in desalinization plants that are much more efficient that previous technology.
The award winners, announced June 20 by the Environmental Protection Agency, “recognize the design of safer and more-sustainable chemicals, processes, and products that will protect the public, including sensitive populations, particularly children, from exposure to harmful chemicals.”
This year's winners include:
* Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams Co., for a new paint formulation of water-based acrylic alkyd technology.
According to the company, the technology uses soybean oil and recycled PET, and results in a 60 percent reduction in volatile organic compounds.
In 2010, the new formula was used in ProClassic and ProMar 200 water-based acrylic alkyds, and ProIndustrial waterborne enamel, eliminating 800,000 pounds of VOCs.
In manufacturing the new paint formula, Sherwin-Williams said it has used 320,000 pounds of soybean oil and 250,000 pounds of PET, and eliminated 1,000 barrels of oil.
“The continued evolution and expansion of the Sherwin-Williams technology has the potential to eliminate millions of pounds of VOC emissions while supporting the recycling of multimillion pounds of PET each year,” the company said in a news release.
* San Diego-based Genomatica Inc., for technology that uses organisms and renewable feedstocks to make high-volume chemicals.
Genomatica is moving toward demonstration-scale production of bioutanediol, its first product, through a partnership with London-based Tate & Lyle.
BDO is an intermediate with a $4 billion market worldwide. It is used to make spandex urethane fibers and thermoplastic polyurethanes used in automotive plastics, running shoes and more. Genomatica's process makes the chemical from biomass.
* Minneapolis-based BioAmber Inc., for its technology to make succinic acid using renewable feedstocks.
Succinic acid is used to make adipic polyurethanes, phthalate-based plasticizers and acetate-based de-icing solutions.
BioAmber also is working on developing polymers made from succinic acid, including modified polybutylene succinate, a high-temperature biopolymer that is also biodegradable.
* Houston-based Kraton Performance Polymers Inc., for its Nexar polymer-membrane technology, which purifies saltwater by reverse osmosis.
Kraton's technology uses polymer membranes made using fewer solvents. According to the company, plants using the membranes can purify hundreds of times more water than can plants using traditional membranes, saving 70 percent in membrane costs and 50 percent in energy costs.
Nexar membranes are made from block copolymers with separate regions that provide strength, poly(t-butyl styrene); toughness and flexibility, poly(ethylene–propylene); and water or ion transport, styrene/ sulfonated styrene.
Kraton introduced Nexar polymers in the U.S., China and Germany during 2010.
The awards were judged by an independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute.
According to the EPA, the 82 winning technologies that have been honored over the 16 years of the program are responsible for reducing the use or generation of more than 199 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water and eliminating 57 million pounds of carbon-dioxide releases to air.