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July 10, 2015

PGCCA Winners Of Yore: Where Are They Now?


With the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) ceremony drawing near, the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG®) Biobased News and Policy Report decided to go back and revisit some early winners to see what has become of the award-winning product or technology. We will be running a new story each week as we approach this year's awards ceremony, occurring July 13, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT), at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Read previous stories on BRAG's website.

The 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was won by three scientists — Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs, and Richard Shrock — for the "development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." Olefin metathesis, a chemical reaction where the groups on the end of two double bonds are exchanged, was originally discovered in the 1950s, but the true scope of metathesis's abilities were not realized until much later. The three Laureates separately focused on metathesis reactions and built upon each other's work to determine not only what metal compounds act as catalysts for metathesis reactions, but created efficient, simple, and environmentally friendly synthesis methods to create many different chemicals. Elevance won the 2012 Small Business Award for using the metathesis catalysts "to produce high-performing, green specialty chemicals at advantageous costs."

Using metathesis catalysts, Elevance began producing specialty chemicals from vegetable oils. Making these chemicals uses significantly less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions when compared to traditional petroleum-based chemicals. The high-value, functional chemicals products combine the benefits of a traditional petrochemical and those of biobased chemicals in a process far more streamlined than was previously possible. This met a commercial demand that was previously unsatisfied, as these metathesis products include multiple desirable qualities such as higher stability in lubricating oils and higher solvency in surfactants. The specialty chemicals that Elevance produces are more effective and sustainable than traditional petrochemicals, while reducing reliance on environmentally hazardous and finite petrochemicals.

When Elevance won the Green Chemistry Award in 2012, the Company was already in the process of building a commercial biorefinery in Indonesia with the ability to produce between 400 million and 800 million pounds of metathesized biobased chemicals. In 2013, Elevance announced that a biodiesel facility in Natchez, Mississippi, would be converted into a second biorefinery with a capacity of 680 million pounds of Inherent™ renewable building blocks being produced by 2016. After winning the Green Chemistry Award, Elevance has continued to expand commercialization and produce biobased chemicals using metathesis catalysts. The Company was a 2015 WBM Bio Business Award Winner, winning Bio-Based Product Innovation of the Year for Elevance Clean™ 1200, a volatile organic compound (VOC)-exempt degreasing solvent. Elevance also won a Bloomberg New Energy Finance: 2015 New Energy Pioneer Award and has been listed on multiple rankings of hot and innovative biobased companies.