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What the judges said…

“Replaces an otherwise toxic substance with a natural, gentler alternative without compromising quality or function. This product has the potential to change the solvent landscape for the better.”

MilliporeSigma’s Cyrene is a solvent that the science and technology company says is safer, more sustainable, and can offer better performance than petroleum-derived products. Cyrene is manufactured in two steps from tree-derived waste cellulose through a process that is nearly energy neutral, and releases water to the environment, according to the company.

Solvents are one of the most widely used chemicals globally for products that include pharmaceuticals and electronics, but they are often petroleum-derived. They can also be toxic, MilliporeSigma points out. Conventional solvents like dimethylformamide (DMF) and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) are reprotoxic and fall under increased regulatory restrictions, the company says. In 2018, the European Commission added NMP to the REACH restricted substances list.

In contrast, Cyrene has low acute and aquatic toxicities well below Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification and Labelling (GHS) thresholds, MilliporeSigma says. The bio-based solvent has received authorization for usage in larger quantities in the EU.

Cyrene was developed as a result of a partnership between the University of York and Circa Group. It can replace NMP in the production of high-quality graphene ink, a technology that has applications for energy storage, electronics, and solar cells. Currently production is limited by high costs, low yields, and use of NMP. MilliporeSigma says that Cyrene allows better quality graphene to be produced in a safer and more economical way to help the technology reach its potential.

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