Manufacturing Sustainability: Green Manufacturing News

Green Chemicals Transforming Chemical Industry

posted by William R. Stott
Published: February 17, 2009

The nation's top leaders in green chemicals and renewable sciences joined together today for a discussion on the future of the rapidly growing renewable chemicals industry. The event was hosted by Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., the leading developer of green chemicals, to mark the opening of the company's new facility in Bolingbrook and discuss the trends, issues and policies that will propel the green chemicals industry.

"The term 'green chemicals' means much more than using renewable ingredients in a laboratory; it is part of a new wave that is transforming the $3 trillion chemical industry," said K'Lynne Johnson, CEO of Elevance. "High priorities in the United States today are the creation of new jobs, a reduction in our dependence on petroleum products and increased innovation. Today, we heard from leading chemical experts, including a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and industry pioneers, about the future of green chemicals and the industry's role in reducing our nation's dependence on oil and adding jobs to the workforce that create long-lasting economic value."

While the pace of innovation in the chemical industry has slowed since 1970, it continues to advance in the area of green chemicals. Elevance shared some of the company's new products and innovations and highlighted the 100 jobs that have been created since its launch last year.

The panel evaluated the impact of green chemicals on our economy in light of the increasing need for sustainability and job creation. The American Chemistry Council estimates that each one job in chemistry generates 5.5 additional jobs elsewhere in the economy. The discussion concluded with a focus on the future of the industry, including the elements needed for growth, both from an investment and a public policy perspective.

Panelists included:

  • Dr. Robert Grubbs, Nobel Prize recipient and distinguished Professor of Chemistry at The California Institute of Technology
  • Dr. John C. Warner, Director, Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, co-author of Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice and recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring
  • David C. Long, President, Environmental Sustainability Solutions, LLC and member of the Board of Governors of the Green Chemistry Institute, a part of the American Chemical Society
  • Dr. Andrew G. Gilicinski, Director of Technology Brokerage and Innovation, The Clorox Company
  • Bryce Lee, Managing Director, Investment Banking division for Credit Suisse. Mr. Lee is Co-head of the Alternative Energy Group and Head of  Global Technology Corporate Finance
  • K'Lynne Johnson, CEO, Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc.

Dr. Robert Grubbs, 2005 Nobel Prize-winner and founder of the olefin metathesis technology used by Elevance to convert renewable resources into specialty chemicals, highlighted the importance of basic chemical research in protecting the environment and enhancing the broader market of chemicals.

"Elevance is a great example of what happens when science and industry meet, and it brings me great pleasure to see firsthand that my work on metathesis has enabled green chemistry to take such significant steps forward," said Dr. Robert Grubbs. "Although I started to explore this science for fundamental reasons, it is exciting that this technology is reducing hazardous wastes and enhancing the performance of everyday products. Through the efforts of Elevance and its partners, consumers can access better performing products that are safer for the environment."

"Our country is taking important steps to encourage private businesses to invest in cleaner, more efficient technologies and we are pleased to lead the way in green chemicals," said Johnson. "What began as a grant by the Department of Energy has led to the creation of 100 jobs and counting."

In addition to the panelists, Elevance partners including Dow Corning Corporation, Tetramer Technologies, LLC and Materia provided product demonstrations to the more than 100 guests.

The event concluded with the official opening of Elevance's new facility and laboratory in Bolingbrook, IL. Local leaders participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion.