Brief on the 2014 American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) Annual Conference

Learn, Network & Collaborate by Joining ACS GCI Industry Roundtables

The Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference (GC&E) is the oldest and most influential event in the field of green chemistry in the United States. The event took place this year on June 17 – 19 in Bethesda, MD in the Washington DC area and was organized by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI). As usual the event reunited hundreds of chemists and engineers from all over the world interested in improving the environmental footprint, health & safety of the chemical industry.

The event featured over 25 technical sessions and importantly industry had a prominent role showcasing industrially relevant technologies.  In fact, the ACS GCI Industry Roundtables organized more than half of the conference this year. These Roundtables are non-competitive, sector-specific collaborations designed to facilitate the integration of green chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemical industry.  With limited budgets and time constraints, yet a plethora of conferences to choose from the industry practitioners in the Roundtables assured content with high implementation potential. The event was also designed to ensure effective networking between academia and industry as well amongst the companies along the value chain starting from hydraulic fracturing oil and gas industry to chemical manufacturers and all the way to business to consumer pharmaceutical and formulator companies. This approach optimized the chance of keeping up to date with the latest thinking in science and technology while facilitating at the same time productive business connections and collaborations.  The Chemical Manufacturer’s, Pharmaceutical and Formulator’s Roundtables met these needs by targeting speakers and discussing impactful alternatives, while simultaneously hosting meetings and networking events throughout the conference.

Technical sessions addressed industrially-relevant greener alternatives

Demonstrating the translation of academic research into industrial application was the focus of a session on commercializing research advances.  Prof. Robert Maleczka, Jr. of Michigan State University presented in series with Dr. Shane Krska of Merck & Co., Inc. and Dr. Jossian Oppenheimer of The Dow Chemical Company to demonstrate the seamless integration of academic research and industrial implementation sides by showing their advances in catalytic C-H borylations.

The event included a stream on bio-based chemicals and their role in the supply chain for various industries. Speakers from Arizona Chemical, Dixie Chemical, Sigma Aldrich (all associated with the Chemical Manufacturer’s Roundtable), as well as NatureWorks LLC, LanzaTech, Corbion, and others shared their latest technologies and products with an audience eager to learn more about this rapidly growing industry.

Closer to the Formulator’s Roundtable activities, J&J Consumer Products, Seventh Generation, State Industrial Products, Rochester Midland Corporation, DuPont, the American Cleaning Institute, Trucost, and the US Federal Trade Commission addressed the design of greener consumer products with comparable performance and price.

For the second year in a row, the event included a session on sustainability aspects of hydraulic fracturing. Companies like Halliburton, Solvay, Akzo Nobel, and Trican Well Service shared their experiences, including, but not limited to, safer alternatives to biocides and crosslinked gel systems.

Targeted networking; the right connection is priceless

The 4th Annual ACS GCI Roundtable Poster Reception held on the evening of June 18 was designed to foster networking across the value chain to develop innovative, more sustainable products & processes.  Sponsored by Flotek Industries, LAUNCH, and ILSI Health and Environmental Sciences Institute, industry mingled with key government agencies and other organizations.  Importantly, over 85% of survey respondents indicated they learned about a greener technology, material, market need, or research idea that may be applicable to their organization.  For example, Dr. Philip G. Sliva of Amway reported he “had just read about a new solvent in C&EN recently and the Roundtable Poster Reception had the very material showcased. I was able to get samples and literature arranged then and there.”

Effective Collaboration: Leveraging resources of others to maximize return on investment

The ACS GCI Roundtables are designed to leverage the resources of peer companies working together non-competitively to address common challenges related to the implementation green chemistry and engineering.  By working collaboratively, the Roundtable has more influence than any one company could have alone.

Hosting meetings in concert with the conference, the Roundtables not only make good use of their members’ time but are able to simultaneously meet with influential organizations in the Washington, DC area.  Interestingly enough meeting in person is not critical as all Roundtable meetings are web-based to allow for global participation. For example some organizations such as Pennakem LLC, a biobased product manufacturer, and Novartis , a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, participated via web.

The ACS GCI Chemical Manufacturer’s Roundtable addressed ongoing projects and discussed opportunities with guests from the US Department of Agriculture on developments in the BioPreferred Program, as well as guests from the Department of Commerce, US Department of State, and others.

The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable, now in its ninth year, focused on advancing projects on tool development, research grants, metrics, as well as explored a potential international collaboration on education.

The focus of the ACS GCI Formulators’ Roundtable was meeting with the US Environmental Protection Agency Design for Environment Program and International Fragrance Association (IFRA) North America to address challenges in developing products to meet the fragrance standard.

At last, but not at least, the ACS GCI Hydraulic Fracturing Roundtable announced it is now open for membership and began developing goals for 2014-2015.

Looking ahead to 2015, the bar will be raised as the ACS GCI Roundtables celebrate a significant milestone; the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable will celebrate its 10 year anniversary.  Plans are already underway to further optimize industrial impact for the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in July 14- 16, 2015.

Julie B. Manley, Guiding Green LLC, 457 E. Mier Road, Sanford, MI, USA 48657; Tel: 815-325-4974;