The University of California-Berkeley, University of Minnesota, Northeastern University and 10 other colleges and universities that have signed the Green Chemistry Commitment, intended to increase the number of green chemists and scientists in the US and the business opportunities available to them.
Dow Chemical is an official partner, a Green Chemistry Commitment spokesperson tells Environmental Leader. The program, organized by nonprofit Beyond Benign, is currently recruiting additional industry partners.
The other 10 signatories are: Bridgewater State University, Gordon College, Grand Valley State University, Kingsborough Community College, Michigan Technological University, Simmons College, South Dakota State University, St. Catherine University, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Washington College.
The green chemistry industry — which is working to develop safer, non-toxic, renewable chemistry and materials — will grow to more than $100 billion by 2020 from less than $3 billion in 2011, with more than $20 billion of that growth in the US, according to a 2011 Navigant Research report. The use of green chemistry will save the chemical industry more than $65.5 billion by 2020, the report says.
Green Chemistry Commitment signatories say supporting green chemistry education gives chemical companies a competitive advantage by providing a quicker time to market by reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing, reducing worker injury by minimizing exposure to toxic chemicals, processes and waste; and increasing efficiency and productivity of new employees who are better prepared after graduating from academic programs.
By signing the commitment, colleges and universities agree that, upon graduation, all chemistry majors will have proficiency in the essential green chemistry competencies of theory, toxicology, lab skills and practical application.
University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers have discovered a new chemical process to make p-xylene, an important ingredient of common plastics, at 90 percent yield from lignocellulosic biomass, the highest yield achieved to date, according to research published in last month’s issue of Green Chemistry.
Xylene chemicals are used to produce PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is used in many products including soda bottles, food packaging, synthetic fibers for clothing and automotive parts.
In May BASF inked a deal with California biochemical company Genomatica to build a production facility to make sugar-based 1,4-butanediol (BDO) using Genomatica’s technology. The German chemical giant says renewable BDO has valuable applications for the plastics, textile and automotive industries.