- Posted by Gus Mank
- On March 21, 2015
- 0 Comments
Conference event encourages research, development, and marketing of industrially relevant green products and processes
WASTE TO PLASTIC
U.S. Bioplastics’ Gatoresin polyester is made from ferulic acid derived from biomass waste.
SioTeX’s Kotwal (from left) poses with colleague Lisa Taylor, business plan competition judge Dan Daly of the Alabama Innovation & Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Center, and SioTeX team mentor chemistry professor Gary Beall of Texas State University, San Marcos.
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
A start-up firm developing a drop-in replacement for the popular paint, tire, and plastic additive fumed silica took top honors at this year’s Green Chemistry Business Plan Competition. The competition, held as part of the annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, provides the chance for sustainability-oriented entrepreneurs to get some help in moving their innovations closer to commercial reality.
For the competition, business plans submitted by 12 companies were judged in a preliminary round. A social media campaign allowed people to go online and view one-minute elevator pitch videos by the finalists and make a financial contribution to buy votes for their favorite team. The online campaign raised $3,100 toward the $10,000 cash prize for the winner.
“Our goal was to bring a broader awareness to green chemistry and involve people beyond the competitors,” said Savannah Sullivan, a research associate at the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute, which sponsored the event. “Everyone has a stake in this game of greener chemistry and entrepreneurship.”
Four finalists attended the conference to make formal presentations. A three-member panel judged the finalists on the basis of how well their products meet green chemistry standards, which include providing an equivalent function to an existing product, the potential to perform as well as or better than a product it would replace, being available at a competitive or lower price, and having a minimum environmental impact for all processes involved in its production and use. The judges also relied on the online buy-in to make their decision.
SioTeX burns pretreated rice hulls in a tube furnace to make its Eco-Sil fumed silica.
SioTeX, with headquarters in San Marcos, Texas, won for Eco-Sil, a green replacement for fumed silica, an important but energy-intensive materials additive. Eco-Sil is made by roasting waste rice hulls, a renewable silica-containing raw material that avoids toxic silicon tetrachloride normally used to make fumed silica. “This has been a great opportunity to help us better our business,” said Ash Kotwal, SioTeX’s vice president of manufacturing.
The runner-up, U.S. Bioplastics, based in Orlando, is developing Gatoresin, a biobased polymer made from ferulic acid that is derived from the paper production by-product lignin and other plant waste such as sugarcane bagasse. The degradable polyester is initially being marketed for short-term-use plastic products such as packaging.
The other finalists included Cell-Free Bioinnovations, of Blacksburg, Va., which is developing disposable sugar-powered enzymatic fuel cells as high-energy-density batteries, and Australia-based Circa Group, which is advancing a continuous process for turning waste cellulose into levoglucosenone, a cyclic C6 molecule that could be used as a feedstock to make biobased solvents, flavor compounds, and polymers.