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28th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

2020 GC&E Highlights

24th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

June 16 – 18, 2020

The 24th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering (GC&E) Conference, originally scheduled to take place in Seattle, WA on June 16-18, 2020, was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Systems-Inspired Design

Conference Chairs

Margaret Sobkowicz
Associate Professor, Plastics Engineering Department
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Rafael Luque
Professor, Department of Organic Chemistry
Universidad de Cordoba, Spain

2020 Sessions

3rd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Product Innovation Showcase

Integrated into our popular GC&E Poster Session & Reception, the Showcase will feature companies who are using the design principles of green chemistry and engineering to create or contribute to innovative products. Participating companies will present a “hands-on” display of the product and describe the products greener technical innovations.

For your abstract to be considered for presentation the following must be included:
• Describe how the principles of green chemistry and green engineering were used in the creation of the product.
• Describe how the product improves the health, safety and/or environmental impact compared to existing products. Please include metrics, third-party testing, certification, and description of chemistry when possible.
• Describe the scientific or process innovations that went into this product.
• Include a picture or link to your product.

If you are a B2B, please give an example of an end consumer product.

Achieving System-Wide Collaboration by Design

Organizers: Saskia van Bergen, Washington Department of Ecology; Robert Giraud, Principal Consultant, Chemours/University of Delaware; Amy Cannon, Executive Director, Beyond Benign; Laura M. Reyes, Paul Thornton

Large-scale collaborative projects have the potential to leverage multi-company/multi-institutional resources to address sustainability challenges. However, the potential of such collaborations remains largely unrealized as it is difficult to establish new relationships and appropriate models that allow different groups to work together effectively. Implementing system-wide changes across industries and in society will require prolonged cooperation between multiple partners and diverse stakeholders, but to date these large-scale collaborative efforts are rare. Even smaller-scale collaborations such as academics aiming to partner with external organizations or an industry to advance the applicability of their innovations face obstacles to building a mutually beneficial project. This session will focus on how large interdisciplinary and/or cross-sector collaborative projects in green chemistry can be conceived, organized, and brought to fruition with results that can have lasting system-wide impact.

There are several key questions we aim to address: First, what are the challenges to a great collaborative project with multiple stakeholders, and how can they be overcome? Secondly, what components of a project are essential to the success of a collaboration? Finally, what other types of collaborations are necessary to help solve multidimensional sustainability and green chemistry challenges?

Diving deeper into the diversity of collaborative efforts, we invite submissions from anyone who has had first-hand experience participating in a large collaboration, either across scientific disciplines (e.g., chemistry, engineering, toxicology), and/or across sectors (e.g., industry, academia, government). The session will benefit from a diversity of perspectives. Speakers may include coordinators or organizers of multi-stakeholder collaborative projects, as well as individual scientists or contributors to such collaborations. Designated projects or challenges that seek to address an industry need (“technology pull”) will be explored, as will those efforts where innovators actively search for specific market fits for their technologies (“technology push”). The session will provide examples and engage participants in the discussion of how better collaborations can be identified, fostered, and achieved. Sharing the perspectives and lessons from this symposium will help accelerate implementation of systemic changes in sustainability by jump-starting the collaborations  needed to advance the widespread practice of green chemistry and engineering across various systems.

ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable Past, Present and Future

Organizer: Juan Colberg, Pfizer

The year 2020 marks the fifteen anniversary of the creation of the Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable. With decades of innovation promoting solvent and waste reductions, safer chemistry, greener processes, cost savings, recognition and awards, this session aims to provide an update on recent contributions in these areas by members of Industry and academia. The session also will provide a forward look to the emerging technologies needed to address the increasing expectations from customers and regulators around the world on how best to deliver our APIs to our patients using processes that minimize or eliminate the environmental impact.

This symposium will create a conversation about emerging technologies needed to deliver our products under the current environmental regulations and customers’ expectations.
• New green chemistry tools and its application to the development of new drugs
• Feature examples of novel and innovative technologies that create value and enables greater sustainability performance.
• Examples of development and implementation of greener technologies by members of Pharma external supply chain; CROs/CMOs.

Advances in Transitioning from Batch to Continuous Flow

Organizers: Tim Braden, Research Scientist, Lilly; Tony Didomenico, Abbvie; Paul Richardson, Pfizer

Despite the exponential growth of research into continuous manufacturing techniques, the production of specialty chemicals and specifically pharmaceuticals is still largely dependent on batch processes. However, sustainability and logistical considerations suggests that this trend is slowly changing, though several technical hurdles still exist in transitioning to a continuous process.  This session on Flow Chemistry and Continuous Manufacturing provides an opportunity to see a number of the field’s current leading practitioners from academia and industry presenting their research, with a focus on providing solutions that enable a seamless transition of a chemical process from batch to flow.

An Interactive Session on Moving from Context to Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education

Organizers: Thomas Holme, Iowa State University; Peter Mahaffy, Kings University

The concept of incorporating context to help motivate student interest in and learning of chemistry has a rich history. While there are efforts both in the US and internationally to develop chemistry curricula in terms of such context-based learning, these efforts have often been directed outside of the curriculum that students intending to become chemists take. In such major courses, such as General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry, context still finds its way into the classroom, but it is arguably less broadly organized and therefore more strongly dependent on specific interests and specialties of individual instructors.

At the same time, recent efforts organized through the auspices of IUPAC have begun to call attention to the possibilities of enhancing student exposure to systems thinking within the chemistry curriculum. Systems thinking emphasizes the interdependence of components of dynamic systems. In the context of chemistry, systems thinking moves beyond isolated consideration of reactions and processes to consider where materials come from, how they are transformed and used, and what happens at the end of their life span. It draws attention to a need to balance the benefits and impacts of chemical substances and the role they play in societal and environmental systems. Applied to STEM education, systems thinking describes approaches that move beyond fragmented and reductionist knowledge of disciplinary content to a more integrated and holistic understanding of the field.

The expansion of context-based learning into systems thinking represents an important way to think about how students learn to use their chemistry knowledge. Significant advantages for the teaching and learning of green and sustainable chemistry is possible by such a merging of the two ideas for including content that extends chemistry beyond the classroom or the lab bench. This workshop is designed to allow participants to first identify ways in which they have incorporated context-based approaches in their own teaching. It will then present exemplars of how such contexts can be woven into a systems thinking approach, making use of systems visualization tools such as System-Oriented_Concept_Map-Extensions (SOCME), illustrating how to help students zoom out from the scope of what might be traditionally covered to see cross-cutting dimensions and interconnections with green chemistry and engineering approaches and broader societal and environmental considerations.. Finally, participants will have opportunity to work through exercises that connect prior experience with context-based learning to a larger system context.

Bio-based and Renewable Chemicals Innovations

Organizer: Isamir Martinez, Ph.D., ACS

For about two decades, there have been significant efforts to develop new commercial processes to bio-based and renewable chemicals as platform molecules. These offer a rich source of novel molecules and can serve as alternative building blocks in the synthesis of raw materials and intermediates that are currently sourced through petrochemical supply chains. Consequently, bio-based and renewable chemicals offer the potential for more sustainable manufacturing systems that will advance the circular economy in a variety of industrial sectors.

This symposium will create a conversation about technologies that have been used to commercialize bio-based and renewable chemicals, how these technologies could be considered “more sustainable” than the existing ones, and what are the next steps to improve them.
• Alternative molecules to be used as building blocks/raw materials
o Implications of using oxygenated or highly functionalized molecules as are routinely found in nature as building blocks vs. the use of highly reduced molecules
• Feature examples of novel and innovative technologies that create value and enables greater sustainability performance.
o Which technologies are currently commercialized and what has contributed to their success in the market?
• Examples of how systems thinking has been used to enhance positive benefits that may be passed on to businesses and consumers.

Carbon Dioxide: Systems-Inspired Design on Recovery and Re-use

Organizer: Joseph Sabol, Principal-Consultant, Chemical Consultant

More than 35 Gt of carbon dioxide (10 Gt as carbon) from industrial processes is produced each year, with about half accumulating into the oceans and on land and about half retained in the atmosphere. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen from 280 ppm in 1800 to 410 ppm in 2019, with the majority coming from human-derived activity. Adverse consequences from lowering the pH of the oceans and warming the atmosphere from trapping infrared radiation are well documented and unabated release of carbon dioxide will exacerbate existing environmental concerns. Unless a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emission is met with world-wide acceptance, rising concentrations, including an increasing rate of emission, are inevitable. Proposals to treat carbon dioxide as waste and inject into deep wells are met with skepticism and daunting engineering challenges. Planting massive forests will take decades to make a significant impact in. In the spirit of “systems-inspired design” this symposium proposes to address viable industrial processes that can re-use “waste” carbon dioxide as a raw material into process streams. Speakers are sought to present concepts and practices that demonstrate viable scale-up processes that use carbon dioxide as a raw material and eliminate waste discharge into the atmosphere.

Careers in Green Chemistry & Engineering

Organizers: Laura M. Reyes, PhD; Natalie O’Neil, PhD, Beyond Benign

This symposium is an informative session focused on the numerous, diverse and non-linear career paths available to students under the general umbrella of green chemistry and engineering. Simultaneously, this symposium aims to demonstrate the benefits that a background knowledge in green chemistry and engineering has in the eyes of an employer and the importance of marketing non-obvious skills to potential employers, e.g. expertise in systems thinking, safety, scale-up considerations, economics, collaborative approaches, science communication, etc. By assembling a series of career path examples from speakers, this symposium will directly address students’ ubiquitous question of what career options are available to them, and how they might go about pursuing them. Although students are the target audience for this symposium, all audiences would be welcome, this symposium could be similarly valuable to those further in their career paths who may find themselves unemployed or otherwise facing a change in employment. Anyone in established careers with a curiosity to learn about the career paths that their colleagues have pursued, or mentors to students seeking resources is also welcomed. To create an interactive environment, a panel discussion to address questions from the audience will follow the speaker presentations. This panel discussion will be open-ended to build on themes brought up in the career presentations.

Connecting Green Chemistry, Systems Thinking and the UN Sustainable Development Goals to the Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum

Organizers: Edward Brush, Department of Chemistry, Bridgewater State University; Grace Lasker

The chemistry enterprise must play a central role in addressing the grand challenges of sustainability. This requires a paradigm shift in chemistry education by integrating and scaffolding green chemistry principles and systems thinking throughout the traditional undergraduate chemistry curriculum, including a multidisciplinary context provided through connections with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). There have been numerous concerted efforts to bring these topics into the chemistry curriculum through the: Green Chemistry Roadmap Project, ACS Exams Institute’s Anchoring Concept Content Maps, ACS-CPT Green Chemistry Supplement, IUPAC-STICE group, and Journal of Chemical Education Special Issue on Systems Thinking and Green and Sustainable Chemistry. It is now time for the chemistry education community to come together and leverage these remarkable efforts by outlining a chemistry curriculum that integrates and scaffolds systems thinking, green and sustainable chemistry and the UN SDGs throughout the chemistry curriculum, providing students with the skills and vision to contribute to a sustainable future through chemistry. This symposium will include a combination of invited and contributed talks and an imbedded workshop. The participants will be contributing to a paradigm shift in chemistry education by outlining draft learning goals, content and assessment for a 4-year curriculum that integrates and scaffolds green chemistry, systems thinking and the UN SDGs.

Design of Chemicals, novel chemistries, synthetic pathways and processes that enable a circular, more sustainable economy

Organizers: Samy Ponnusamy, Millipore Sigma and Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering; Srinivasan Ambatipati, McNeese State University

This session will highlight the processes that are inspired by novel design strategies to enable a circular-sustainable economy. Case studies will be presented to illustrate how industry/academia/NGO have successfully implemented novel design strategies to achieve circular-sustainable economy. The examples from the session will describe the design and approaches taken, the challenges faced and how a solution for the challenge was achieved. Also, this session will discuss the importance of implementing sustainability as a basic design criterion to successfully achieve a closed-loop economy.

Designing new molecules for more sustainable household and personal care products

Organizers: Will Shearouse, David Constable

Formulating high-performance consumer products using green and sustainable chemistry approaches requires the development of innovative, effective components that possess little or a reduced toxicity profile, the potential for ready degradability after use, no potential for bioaccumulation, and an overall increased sustainability profile. This session is intended to provide a forum to share case studies and success stories of green and sustainable chemistry approaches to more sustainable ingredients used in formulated household and personal care products. A few of the ideas to be addressed include:

  • Descriptions of raw material innovations and how these may be formulated into products
  • Compelling examples of creating value through new chemical innovation that facilitates increased sustainability performance
  • Examples of how trends in ingredient disclosure has driven new chemical development
  • Examples of how systems thinking is used in chemical development to enhance positive benefits passed on to consumers and the environment

Research groups working in the following categories highlighted by the ACS GCI Formulators’ Roundtable’s 2015 Green Chem. publication, and prioritized by the Roundtable, are intended to be the main speakers in this session:

  1. Antimicrobials
  2. Surfactants
  3. Solvents (for use in formulated household and personal care products, not for synthesis)
  4. Chelants and sequestering agents

**This is intended to primarily be a graduate student session. Students accepted to speak in this session will receive a travel award, provided by the ACS GCI Formulators’ Roundtable.**
Get the details of the Travel Awards here.

Everyone else submitting an abstract for this session will be reviewed as part of normal abstract submission process.

Earth-Abundant Metal Catalysis

Organizers: Neil Strotman, Director, Catalysis and LCS, Merck; Brad Gates, Principal Research Scientist I, AbbVie

Earth-abundant metal catalysis is touted for its inherent sustainability, and the advantages of low toxicity and minimal environmental impact versus heavy metal catalysis.  What is often overlooked is the diversity of transformations which can be affected by earth-abundant metals, beyond those of their precious metal counterparts.  Earth-abundant metals, by virtue of their placement on the periodic table, have access to more oxidation states, and can often participate in one electron chemistry.  This opportunity for more numerous catalytically relevant oxidation states for a given metal allows for greater variety in chemical transformations.  This highly active field of research continues to grow and evolve as new catalyst systems succeed in not only supplanting less abundant metals with greener alternatives, but in offering novel reactivity giving rise to greater chemical space.

Enabling a Circular Economy for Materials in the Consumer Goods Industry

Organizers: Thomas A. Kwan, Sustainability and Green Product Engineer, Unilever Science & Technology; Paul D. Price, Bio-Sourcing Technical Leader, Unilever Science & Technology.

Chemicals employed in home and personal care products face several distinct challenges towards implementing circular economy strategies, including dispersive use, linear lifecycles, and high volumes. Green Chemistry & Engineering, as well as regenerative agriculture and renewable feedstocks, can help address these barriers. To succeed, systems thinking and innovation are necessary drivers throughout all phases of research and development for chemicals and products alike.

This symposium will actively engage communities and stakeholders to bridge technical understanding, needs, and opportunities towards facilitating circular economy principles in the fast-moving consumer goods sector. Academic, business, NPO/NGOs, government, and emerging experts are encouraged to submit session talks. All aspects of technology, cost, safety, and sustainability across materials and life cycles relevant to home and personal care goods will be considered.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the development of:

  • Low cost and high-volume renewable feedstocks
  • Scalable and cost-efficient processing
  • Biotechnology
  • Utilization of waste streams
  • Chemical design for environmental, safety, and product performance
  • Design for chemical end of life

EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Awards – Past and Present

Organizer: US EPA

The Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are now in their 24th year and continue to recognize leading green chemistry innovations. Since the inception of the awards more than two decades ago, EPA has received more than 1600 nominations and presented awards to 118 technologies. These exemplars create a compelling case that innovations benefitting from the application of green chemistry and engineering have achieved sufficient commercial success to justify implementation in all chemical processing sectors. This session will seek to celebrate winner’s innovations and inspire future award nominations. The symposium will work to bring award winners from the last two years (2018 and 2019), in addition to the winners from the 2020 awards cycle.”



Green by Design: Medicinal Chemistry to Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Organizers: Amy Dounay, Colorado College; Jozef Stec, Marshall B. Ketchum University 

Innovative green chemistry approaches have been applied toward all stages of drug discovery research, from the initial medicinal chemistry design to the discovery and manufacturing-scale production of new medicines. Many contemporary efforts in manufacturing of pharmaceuticals aim to be sustainable, environmentally responsible, and fiscally sound, which altogether result in an increased global access to essential medicines and it closely aligns with the WHO’s vision to live in a disease-free world. This symposium is aimed at providing diverse chemists across academe and industry with highly practical knowledge and accessible green chemistry tools to implement into drug discovery and development process at every level in every place. The central theme of this symposium will be showcasing recent developments and innovations in designing green approaches to synthetic medicinal chemistry and manufacturing processes to address current and future global challenges in drug discovery and development.

Green Chemistry & Engineering Poster Session

A strong poster session is central to the GC&E Conference. Student posters will be judged as part of a poster competition. Abstracts submitted to the poster session must meet the following criteria:

Green Chemistry Curriculum Designed to Inspire (Systems Design) – Rapid Fire Session

Organizers: Jane Wissinger, Professor of Chemistry, University of Minnesota; Alexey Leontyev, North Dakota State University;  Natalie O’Neil, Beyond Benign

This fast-paced and engaging symposium will provide educators of all levels (K-12, undergraduate, and graduate) with the opportunity to share their innovations and initiatives for incorporating green chemistry content in lecture, laboratory, and outreach. In particular, abstracts are welcome for those modeling the inclusion of green and sustainable chemistry metrics which illustrate a life cycle thinking approach to designing a chemical product and/or chemical process. Representative topics include the use of renewable feedstocks, greener synthetic methods, inorganic/enzymatic catalysts, and intended use and end-of-life considerations. Contributions of these methods to improving safety or understanding toxicology would be welcome. The rapid-fire session format will allow presenters seven minutes (with optional use of three minutes for content or questions) to engage the audience with a snapshot of their work and prompt audience participation. Each speaker will be encouraged to include at least one polling question. Speakers will be grouped into themes for panel discussions to create a forum for exchange of ideas and provide additional details according to the interest of the audience. More than one submission by an author will be allowed to in order to include a breadth of topics.

Green Chemistry International System of Systems

Organizers: Paul Anastas, PhD, Yale University; Karolina Mellor, PhD, Yale University.

The global system of green chemistry is an international network of networks. The reason that understanding this complex sstem is important is because it is at the intersections and interfaces of these various networks that the greatest chance for transformative innovation takes place. In our language and descriptions, we often try to simplify this universe into easily fragmented sectors (e.g., industry, government, academia, and NGO’s), or even bifurcate the world e.g., domestic/international, industrialized world/emerging nations, global corporation/start-up, research/education. While these categorizations make things seem simpler, they lose the richness of the capacity of the network and the fullness of the potential for bringing about positive change in the green chemistry world. It is precisely by understanding where multi-dimensional partnerships can be built, established infrastructure can be leveraged, and cultural threads aligned, that green chemistry has its highest opportunities to have its most important impact.

Information Driving Greener Design: Design & Use of Safer Chemicals to Meet Market Demand

Organizers: Bridget Williams, US EPA Safer Choice Program; Kathleen Compton, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, US EPA Region 10; Kendra Tyler, Safer Choice Lead, US EPA Region 10

Chemical design to meet marketing needs can sometimes overlook chemical safety considerations, or focus on eliminating a single concern, such as carcinogenicity. Chemical design to avoid a certain hazard endpoint is an approach that, if not pursued in the context of a broader goal, could lead to the design or use of a chemical with another problematic endpoint such as persistence, reproductive toxicity, or chronic toxicity. Methodologies for identifying safer chemicals include assessment by functional class and comparing the most relevant endpoints for that class. Understanding a chemical’s structure and function is key to determining which hazard endpoints might be distinguishing and potentially problematic. Using this approach furthers the advancement of green chemistry through the design of less hazardous chemicals. The symposium will discuss safer chemical design, include industry examples, share green chemistry challenges in the marketplace, and offer examples of how organizations are supporting the development of safer alternatives.

Information Driving Greener Design: Enabling Sustainable Material Flows by Identifying & Addressing Information Needs

Organizers: Anna Montgomery, Executive Director, Northwest Chemistry; Lauren Heine, Director of Safer Materials & Data Integrity, ChemForward; Ray Garant, ACS

This session will cover frameworks, databases, certifications, and information hubs for safe, sustainable product design. Products based on sustainable materials support a circular economy, create life-friendly chemistry, restore natural capital, and support a just and inclusive society. This requires systems thinking to holistically address sustainability alignment between products and materials. Diverse information types are required to understand how well a product or material meets these criteria, but can be challenging to identify and use, especially for product designers.

What information needs are necessary in order to meet the demands for designing products for sustainable material flows? Who is meeting these needs, and what challenges are they facing in disseminating and organizing this information so that it is actionable? Sustainability must be considered during the design phase to avoid sunk cost fallacies leading to the continued development of regrettable products. Products in the midst of being designed rarely have robust datasets describing their life cycle impacts, hazards, and other sustainability characteristics. How do innovators, entrepreneurs, and product developers access sufficient information during the design phase to make informed decisions about the sustainability of their products? How do chemical manufacturers communicate the sustainability of their materials?

Many products are developed with sustainability claims, but further examination reveals trade-offs between sustainability benefits. For example, food packaging designed using agricultural waste and marketed as compostable may contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which do not break down in compost and are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. Our symposium will explore the tools and databases available to avoid these situations, both for product designers and for purchasers and others further up the supply chain.
Alternatives assessment has the potential to identify preferable chemicals and preferable products with a clear description of any sustainability trade-offs. However, it is challenging to gather sufficient data on new and emerging chemicals and products to equitably compare them to existing and established chemicals and products. As syntheses and processes are optimized for the status quo, new chemicals and products often fail to perform to the same level. Our symposium will explore modeling tools and alternatives assessment methodologies that enable accurate and actionable comparisons.

Information Driving Greener Design: Uncertainty in estimating systems accuracy and its impact on decision-making

Organizers: Hans Plugge, Senior Toxicologist, Manager Safer Chemical Analytics, Verisk 3E; Jakub Kostal, George Washington University; Emma Lavoie, EPA

This session focuses on the often controversial and challenging topic of uncertainty in toxicological data and regulatory decision-making. Practitioners must often reconcile data from multiple sources and types of data (e.g. in silico, in vitro, in vivo), which may rely on widely different protocols and approximations. The sheer magnitude of available in silico and in vitro data is both crucial to advancing the assessment of industrial chemicals and their inherent risks, as well as problematic, as it limits human review and expert judgment of data quality. It is important to stress that the magnitude and diversity of datasets available for regulatory assessments will increase in future years as a result of the push for integrated testing strategies. The session format aims for roundtable-style discussions, engaging stakeholders from academia, industry and government. Discussion will follow the ‘storyline’ of problems encountered and available solutions, progressing from i) uncertainty in raw experimental and computational model data, ii) uncertainty in combining multiple data sources and types, iii) approaches to incorporating uncertainty in toxicology, environmental health and chemical databases, iv) strategies for handling uncertainty in regulatory decision-making, and v) communicating uncertainty in public dissemination of toxicological data and assessments.

Innovations in Analytical Chemistry Applications to Enable Greener Process Design

Organizers: Christine M. Aurigemma, Senior Principal Scientist, Pfizer; Michael B. Hicks, Merk; William P. Farrell, Pfizer

The implementation of sustainable process analytical chemistry tools is a cornerstone in the development of robust chemical processes. The development and implementation of green and sustainable chemical processes for production of clinical candidates is already well-established as requirements for maximizing a pharmaceutical company’s overall environmental, safety, and cost benefits. Of equal importance are the various in-line and on-line applications used to support or solve problems related to pharmaceutical development and manufacturing at the plant scale. In response to industrial pressures to increase speed to market and the quality of new products, companies are steadily shifting towards early optimization through continuous improvement and innovative approaches to sample handling, sample transport, process efficiency, and safety concerns within medicinal chemistry, development and manufacturing. This includes the implementation of newer and greener process analytical tools and applications for optimizing process control while minimizing environmental impact. Modeling approaches, process analytical technologies, and spectroscopy advancements are examples of areas of potential impact. The goal of this session is to present innovative solutions for transforming process chemistry to more sustainable analytical and process chemistry synergy by initial design.

International Opportunities and Success Stories for the Production of Chemicals/Fuels from Waste

Organizers: Beau Hoffman, Technology Manager, US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office, and Inge Johansson

In 2012, the World Bank estimated that around 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated each year globally, and it is estimated that will rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025 due to increased urbanization in developing and emerging economies. These statistics illustrate that these waste streams are available in abundant quantities today and often pose significant environmental challenges. Amongst OECD countries, waste management practices and infrastructure vary considerably due to legislative policies/frameworks, costs of landfilling, and significant changes in recycling practices such as Asian restrictions on foreign plastics. Moreover, while it is technically possible and commercial technologies exist to convert these waste streams into power and/or heat (e.g. using anaerobic digestion, incineration), margins on these end products are often too thin to manage these wastes at an economy-level. These, as well as other factors, has created the need for alternative strategies for managing these waste streams: namely the production of higher value biofuels and biochemicals from MSW.

As a result of these differing policy and societal factors, R&D and process development must be aligned to meet near- and long-term challenges. To this end, this symposium will explore two of these areas:

  1. International Perspectives on the Availability and Opportunity of Wastes as Feedstocks
    This portion of the program will focus on non-technical elements regarding the feasibility of producing fuels and chemicals from waste such as resource availability and costs. It will also discuss local, national, and regional policies that are influencing which waste management needs are most pressing.
  2. Technological Success Stories for the Conversion of Waste to Fuels and Chemicals
    This portion of the program will feature technological case studies for the conversion of waste streams. In addition to discussing the innovative conversion processes being developed or demonstrated, the invited talks will also include discussions of techno-economics and/or life cycle analyses associated with their process Technologies and processes that are at the piloting phase or beyond and are thus poised to make a near term impact will be showcased during this portion of the program.

Leaving Organic Solvents Behind: Chemistry in Aqueous Media

Organizers: Megan Shaw, Sr. Scientist, Merck; Kevin Maloney, Director, Merck

Traditionally, chemists have relied on the use of organic solvents as the primary reaction medium for both academic research and the development of industrial processes. While offering desirable attributes with respect to solubilizing organic compounds and promoting reactivity, organic solvents contribute heavily to overall waste generation, have negative implications for the environment and often derive from finite resources. This session will outline the largely untapped potential of conducting chemistry in water by demonstrating that, not only does water provide a green and sustainable alternative to organic solvents, it can offer distinct advantages with respect to reactivity, cost efficiency and waste generation. Successful strategies which overcome the commonly perceived challenges of low solubility and stability of organic/organometallic molecules in water will be discussed and the exciting opportunities arising from the use of enzymes, catalysts ideally suited to an aqueous environment, in organic synthesis will be highlighted.

Life Cycle Thinking to Drive Green Chemistry in the Electronics Supply Chain

Organizers: Michael Kirschner, President, Design Chain Associates, LLC; Dr. Leo T. Kenny, President, Planet Singular; John Katz, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, US Environmental Protection Agency

The supply chain of the electronics industry is long, vast and convoluted. Improving the sustainability of product and process chemistry is challenging because chemical selection is normally done (often far) upstream of the brand owners and, given the nature of the products, many electronics companies have little or no chemistry expertise. Poor and inadequate processes to connect downstream concerns and requirements regarding environmental/human health performance with upstream decision points limits opportunities for implementing green chemistry and engineering solutions.

Challenges include chemistry knowledge; toxicology expertise; supply chain communication and motivation; management engagement; material composition collection, information, and interpretation; lack of information on how suppliers use chemicals; a wide diversity in processes where chemicals are used, and lack of worker knowledge of – and control over – the hazards associated with the chemicals they use; intellectual property concerns; cost, volume, quality, and availability of solutions; and many others. But the industry is huge and innovative, and opportunities abound throughout it if adequate visibility and incentive can be provided to design out issues up front.

We seek speakers who can highlight where opportunities exist and solutions are needed; areas where solutions are being developed and implemented for materials, processes and products across the semiconductor and electronics design and manufacturing supply chains; and examples of how and where industry, academia and government can and are working together.

Making Organic Chemistry more Sustainable (Special Student/Postdoc Session)

Organizer: David Leahy, Associate Director, Process Chemistry Development, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

The development of new synthetic methodologies and strategies has been the cornerstone upon which sustainable industrial processes are built. The pure research advances arising from academia fuel the world’s industrial innovation, while also training the scientific leaders of tomorrow. This special session highlights the research of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows across the broader organic chemistry community which has the potential to impact sustainable industrial chemistry.

**Students accepted to speak in this session will receive a travel award, provided by the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable.**
Get the details of the Travel Awards here.

Making your undergraduate chemistry labs greener and safer

Organizers: Kendra Denlinger, Xavier University; Ralph Stuart, Keene State College

This session will discuss ways to design and develop curricula that infuse greener chemistry and safer chemistry throughout the chemistry curriculum, especially in the teaching laboratory. These techniques span a broad range, from small projects or short safety moments to new laboratory experiments or entire course offerings. This session will bring together experts in the areas of both green chemistry education and chemical safety education to identify and take advantage of technical and cultural opportunities for greener and safer undergraduate chemistry education. Attendees will learn about emerging strategies and tools to help students in their undergraduate courses understand both green chemistry and chemical safety as fundamental parts of their science education.

Pathways to new products using lignocellulosic feedstocks

Organizers: Peter Deuss, Adelina Voutchkova-Kostal, Vikram Yadama, Jason Locklin

Morning Concentration: Feedstock processing and catalytic pathways to new products

Afternoon Concentration: Renewable feedstocks to biopolymers and biocomposites

Lignocellulosic biomass in the form of agricultural and forest-based residues is poised to become a key carbon source to displace fossil carbon resources in the chemical industry. The economically viable implementation of biomass-based refineries (biorefineries) will rely on (i) access to high value products; (ii) maximum valorization of all products streams, including residues and (iii) efficient and robust component separation and conversion with adequate pre- & post-processing steps. The ability to maximize feedstock utilization and the value of the outputs will be critical to making lignocellulosic feedstocks a feasible carbon source. In order to design applied materials that incorporate the principles of green chemistry, synergistic partnerships between researchers and business communities are critical.

Example topics include: Technologies to breakdown biomass to access separately carbohydrates and lignin; Depolymerization of lignin and carbohydrate components to new platform chemicals; Catalytic conversion of platform chemicals to high value chemical products; Challenges in process integration, scaling up and conversion of residues to for example fuels and overall life cycle assessment. The afternoon will continue the conversation from the morning and add additional topics further down the supply chain including development of building blocks from renewable feedstocks for bio-based chemicals, biobased polymers, biocomposites, degradation and compostability of biobased products, and LCA and Techno-Economic Assessment of bioproducts.

The symposium will end with an interactive panel, which will discuss the business challenges and opportunities for the production of renewable products. Here current hurdles and knowledge gaps will be identified to allow a discussion on the way forward in this key field of technological development.

Poised at a unique moment of “can” vs. “should”: reckoning EHS challenges and opportunities in the future of additive manufacturing

Organizers: Thomas A. McKeag, UC Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry; Justin Bours, Cradle2Cradle; Jeremy Faludi, Technical University of Delft

The industrial sector of additive manufacturing (AM) has experienced double-digit growth over the last decade, as the volume and type of material produced using the seven recognized types of 3D printing has expanded. Initially used mainly for prototyping and specialty production, the growth in the field is now dominated by parts manufacture, an exploration of novel materials, and an expansion of user types, including home use. While this disruptive technology has enabled the saving of energy and materials in some applications, as well as the relatively cheap production of complex shapes, current practices also prompt caution. Many of the chemicals used in AM are of concern; for example, typical Stereolithography (SLA) resin chemicals may cause skin and eye irritation, skin sensitivity, and aquatic toxicity. As such they also represent a potential cost to businesses such as hazardous waste disposal charges. They also represent a potentially higher cost in liability and loss of consumer goodwill. The potential for sustainability gains from AM should not be precluded by material toxicity, environmental persistence, and the failure of safety controls as the market widens to home use. Currently there are relatively no universally accepted material safety standards for AM process types, although committees associated with ISO and ASTM are preparing drafts standards on the subject. Clearly, the design of safer formulations and processes in AM will yield significant health benefits and cost savings as this sector continues to expand. It may also yield more innovations in materials manufacturing, reuse and recycling.

This symposium will bring together experts in the areas of:
• 3D printing technology
• materials innovation
• green chemistry
• life cycle analysis
• systems thinking
• alternatives assessment

The presentations and discussions will highlight current and emerging trends in AM, selectively target several of the current challenges or barriers to safer AM, and discuss ways that cooperative trans-disciplinary efforts might advance the field of green additive manufacturing. In particular, we will tie green chemistry principles to the challenges and opportunities of this field and how practitioners can play a part in making AM safer and more sustainable.


Re-imagining Chemistry Education: Systems Thinking, and Green and Sustainable Chemistry

Organizer: Thomas Holme, Iowa State University; Peter Mahaffy, Kings University

Recent publications challenge chemistry professionals to transform chemistry so that it addresses emerging global challenges. Common themes in these calls for transformation include the integration of systems thinking into the practice of chemistry and a wholesale reimagination of chemistry education to more effectively educate scientists and citizens to prepare them for their roles in a rapidly changing planet and society. This technical session will report on and guide efforts to reimagine chemistry education using novel systems thinking approaches throughout educational programs

Systems thinking emphasizes the interdependence of components of dynamic systems. In the context of chemistry, systems thinking moves beyond isolated consideration of reactions and processes to consider where materials come from, how they are transformed and used, and what happens at the end of their life span. It draws attention to a need to balance the benefits and impacts of chemical substances and the role they play in societal and environmental systems. Applied to STEM education, systems thinking describes approaches that move beyond fragmented and reductionist knowledge of disciplinary content to a more integrated and holistic understanding of the field. A framework for using systems thinking in chemistry education places learners at the center of a system of chemistry education, suggesting tools and approaches to help instructors and curriculum developers see interconnections among the different components that are part of the learning of chemistry. Teaching chemistry through a systems approach challenges students to apply scientific principles to solve real-world problems, demonstrates chemistry’s role as an essential science in finding solutions to global challenges, and prepares future scientists for the collaborative interdisciplinary work required

Elements of systems thinking have helped to drive developments in green and sustainable chemistry education. The successful application of the principles of green chemistry and engineering, the effective use of tools such as life-cycle analysis, and the development of novel molecular design strategies depends on considering the interconnectedness of reactions and processes with local and global systems. Building students’ capacity to integrate systems thinking into their chemistry problem-solving toolkit can yield new insights and create new opportunities for design and innovation. These strategies and approaches can help to stimulate and inspire further work and research more broadly within chemistry education in promoting and enhancing students’ systems thinking skills as well as a deeper and more interconnected understanding of chemistry and related disciplines as a whole.

This session will review and explore the scope and definition of systems thinking in chemistry education, as well as educational research and practice oriented by systems thinking approaches. It will also include a strong focus on the application of systems thinking to green and sustainable chemistry education and seeks to include interdisciplinary perspectives that can drive innovation in this area.

Safety: A Pillar of Green Chemistry

Organizers: Chris Nawrat, Sr. Scientist, Merck; Kevin Maloney, Director, Merck

Chemical safety is defined as the practice of using chemicals in a manner that ensures the safety and health of humans and prevents damage to the environment. Therefore, safety is an integral part of green chemistry to the extent that green chemistry is safe chemistry. This session will explore the safe use of chemicals in academic, industrial, and governmental labs focusing on several key components of chemical safety: scientific knowledge about potential hazardous effects, technical knowledge of safe-handling and use procedures, design of safer chemistry, design of less hazardous chemical synthesis, and waste prevention.

Slimming the Waste-Line in Peptide and Oligonucleotide Syntheses

Organizer: Michael Kopach, Senior Research Advisor, Eli Lilly

Peptides have gained increased interest as therapeutics over the past few decades, largely due to their advantageous properties including high specificity and affinity, as well as superior safety and tolerance. These properties make peptide drugs more desirable than small molecule drugs in select disease classes including cancer, diabetes, degenerative and infectious diseases. Currently, there are over 60 FDA approved peptide drugs on the market and over 600 either in clinical trials or pre-clinical development. Peptide-based therapeutic agents have the potential to replace many existing small molecule-based therapies in the near future. Likewise great strides have been made in oligonucleotide therapies and delivery technologies over the past five years.

Compared to the synthetic processes for small molecule drugs, the environmental impact of this technology has not garnered much attention, in part because the high potency of peptide and oligonucleotide drugs has rendered supply needs significantly lower than traditional small molecule drugs. However, market forecasts indicate potential for a significant increase in high volume peptide and oligonucleotide processes. Recent investigations have revealed that, on average, producing 1 kg of peptide or oligonucleotide products require over 5 to 15 metric tons of solvent, significantly higher than all types of synthetic small molecule. In addition, the current state of the art in peptide and oligonucleotide syntheses utilize primarily legacy technologies, with little focus on green chemistry and engineering with multiple usages of highly hazardous reagents and solvents. Contributing to the poor environmental profile for peptide and oligonucleotide products is the ubiquitous use of chromatography. Recognizing these unmet environmental needs the ACS Pharmaceutical Roundtable recently founded a team focused on improving sustainability practices in peptide and oligonucleotide syntheses. The groups initial contribution is focused on stimulating innovations in peptide syntheses (J. Org. Chem., 2019, 84 (8), pp 4615–4628). This session will explore how improved synthetic methodologies, safer coupling reagents, solvent selection, and minimization of chromatography play a vital role in improving the sustainability both peptide and oligonucleotide syntheses.

Successful International Green Chemistry Case Studies in Emerging Economies

Organizers: Karolina Mellor, Yale University; Paul Anastas, Yale University

Companies often face challenges in the research, development or production stages of new products. These challenges require creative solutions that are based on innovative science. But while these accomplishments have taken place largely in the industrialized nations, there are a number of businesses and organizations that have successfully implemented sustainable design all around the world. In order to empower a broad-based adoption of green chemistry practices, to build a more sustainable economy, and accelerate sustainable industrial development, changes must also happen in developing and transitioning countries.

This session is designed to highlight these practices and bring together successful green chemistry case studies from all around the globe. Speakers are invited to share a challenge and how it was resolved using principles of green chemistry given their country’s resources and needs. In addition to industrial case studies, academic examples of green chemistry application and experiences in implementing green chemistry in developing countries are welcome. The session further builds on the UNIDO Global Green Chemistry Initiative whose mission is to raise awareness of Green Chemistry and build capacity to reduce the generation and use of hazardous chemicals throughout the industrial life cycle in developing countries.

Sustainability in emulsion polymers for coating

Organizers: Sylvain Caillol, Institut Charles Gerhardt Montpellier; Vincent Ladmiral; Dean Webster

Sustainability is one of the most discussed issues in the industry. In the past, paint and coatings industry focused research and development efforts to develop low VOC technologies for paints, binders and sealants. However, meeting environmental regulations is not enough. Nowadays, companies are looking at “green” coatings and sustainability from a holistic standpoint.

The use of water as a continuous phase has already several advantages, as it is an innocuous and nonflammable solvent. Moreover, it reduces the reaction medium viscosity and improves heat transfer enabling easier reaction temperature control. Aqueous polymerization in dispersed media includes several related processes such as emulsion polymerization, miniemulsion polymerization, microemulsion polymerization, dispersion polymerization and suspension polymerization.

The desire and need for more sustainable and more energy efficient materials have encouraged the use of more bio-based and safer chemicals. Hence, numerous bio-based emulsion polymers have been developed from vegetable oils or sugar derivatives to yield bio-based latex. Moreover, most emulsion polymers are prepared from relatively harmful monomers such as acrylates, styrene or isocyanates. Hence, crucial challenges such as the substitution of styrene and other harmful petro-based acrylates remain. Additionally, some toxic surfactants or additives could leach out of the final coatings. Hence the substitution or replacement of these surfactants is still important. Finally, functional coatings which avoids the superposition of several coatings for same properties is also an economic and environmental advantage. Developing greener coatings is certainly important, but companies are also concerned with the reduction of waste and the carbon footprint.

We propose to gather the highest-level contributions from the academic and industrial communities on these remaining challenges.

The objective is to address issues and gaps concerning:

  • Innovative and promising bio-based monomers for industrial polymers;
  • Reactivity and molar mass issues in emulsion polymerization;
  • Reactive latex and cross-linkable coatings;
  • Functional and self-healing coatings;
  • Biobased surfactants and pickering emulsions;
  • Emulsion NIPUs;
  • Life cycle assessment of latex;
  • Up-scaling issues;
  • Characterizations and applications for biobased latex.

Sustainable Industrial Products, Processes and Systems

Organizers: Se Ryeon Lee, Research Group Leader, PPG; Kristin Nuzzio, PPG; Chad Landis, PPG

Customers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products they buy and use. As a response to this, a major driver in industrial innovation is sustainability to fulfill both customer needs and anticipate regulatory changes. This session will focus on highlighting industrial product design and process development with respect to sustainability, which may include energy savings, cost savings, water reduction, solvent reduction, sustainable feedstocks, and lowering CO2 emissions. Presentations describing specific examples or case studies of successful product development and/or challenges involved with commercialization are particularly welcome.

Toward Systematic Design of Sustainable Separation Processes

Organizers: Robert Giraud, Senior Principal Consultant, The Chemours Company; Kirti M. Yenkie, Assistant Professor, Rowan University

Separations lie at the very heart of chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing processes. Distillation has been the technology of choice for these separations because it is a well-understood, reliable, predictable method that works. However, industrial reliance on distillation comes at a great cost because use of this technology accounts for over 50% of the capital investment of chemical processes and over 10% of global energy consumption. Furthermore, in the absence of more cost-effective and more sustainable practical separation processes, used solvents and other valuable materials are often incinerated rather than recovered. Accelerating the industrial application of sustainable separation processes as alternatives to distillation requires the widespread availability of next generation process selection, evaluation, simulation, and design tools for alternative separation (ALTSEP) processes that make use of mass separating agents (e.g., adsorbents, membranes) in whole or in part (i.e., hybrid separations). Recent findings suggest new techniques and tools are being developed.

Presentations in this symposium will highlight recent developments in selection, evaluation, simulation, and design for energy-efficient ALTSEP processes to help green chemists and engineers see what they can leverage today. Examples of target presentation topics for this symposium include:

  • Techno-economic analysis for sustainable separation process design,
  • LCA-based selection of solvent recovery options,
  • Evaluation metrics for rapid screening of mass separating agent materials,
  • Heuristics for selection and design of mass separating agent based processes,
  • Systems design of mass separating agent based processes,
  • Conceptual design of hybrid separation processes,
  • Process simulation and/or optimization of mass separating agent based processes, and
  • Factors in de-risking industrial adoption of mass separating agent based processes.

Presenters are asked to also identify where further progress is needed to enable broad availability of process selection, evaluation, simulation, and design tools for predictable scale-up and operation of ALTSEP processes to facilitate widespread deployment of sustainable separation processes.

Undergraduate Context Session

Organizer: Reuben Hudson, College of the Atlantic; Julian Silverman

This session offers the opportunity for undergraduate students to contextualize their conference experience by direct engagement with a broad-topic panel discussion. Panelists will kick off the session with short talks designed to provide background and perspective in hopes of addressing general questions that students have gathered throughout the conference. This session is designed to provide a space for undergraduate students (or anyone else) to debrief their conference experience by interfacing with researchers from disciplines spanning catalysis, biomass conversion, systems thinking, solid phase chemistry, and more.

Unlocking the Power of Enzymes: Biocatalysis as an Enabling Tool in Complex Molecule Synthesis

Organizers: Cindy Hong, Sr. Scientist, Merck; Kevin Maloney

The facile access to engineered enzymes has led to the widespread adoption of biocatalysis in complex molecule synthesis in both academic as well as industrial laboratories. This session will attempt to highlight the mostly untapped potential of bio-catalysis and protein engineering in developing new synthetic methodologies that unlock new chemical space and are green and sustainable. In addition, the session will highlight the chemistry and engineering challenges associated with developing biocatalytic transformations, and how computational chemistry along with a detailed mechanistic understanding can aid in developing robust processes.

Untying the Knots to Develop a Circular Economy from Waste Plastics

Organizers: Andrew D. Sutton, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Chris Chuck, The University of Bath, UK; Asanga B Padmaperuma, Sr. Research Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 

Plastics have only been in large-scale production since the 1950s but in that short time approximately 8300 million metric tons (Mt) of virgin plastics have been produced of which, 6300 Mt of plastic waste has been generated with 79 % of that now in landfills or in the environment such as “Great Pacific garbage patch.” While this is a major environmental problem, it can also be considered to be a huge resource opportunity if we can develop approaches and methods to reintroduce this carbon back into the supply chain and avoid the accumulation of single use carbon.

The rationale behind this symposium is to consider all aspects of the plastic cycle and how we can use this discarded carbon resource to reduce petroleum and energy resources, reduce environmental impacts and increase global sustainability. This will encompass:

• Development of new polymers with improved performance to provide market pull
• Chemical and biologic recycle of polymers
• Development of biodegradable polymers to environmentally benign materials
• Challenges in replacing petroleum-based polymeric materials
• Economic and environmental factors and barriers to a circular-plastic economy
• Methods to upcycle plastics

Using Computers to Deliver Green Chemistry: In Silico Techniques for Designing and Developing Chemical Reactions

Organizers: Jason Stevens, Senior Research Investigator II, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Jared Piper, Pfizer

Identification of expedient and resource-efficient synthetic routes and the implementation of an optimal combination of catalysts and reagents for an organic transformation are key endeavors that exemplify green chemistry in practice. This session will focus on in silico techniques that look to deliver synthetic efficiency, atom economy and minimize waste production. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and predictive analytics (PA) that harness powerful algorithms to improve synthetic routes or chemical reactions from first principles will comprise the majority of the session, as well as what is needed to get started on this important and growing topic in the chemical sciences.