How Can Green Chemistry and Engineering Principles Drive Innovation and Profits?

November 10th, 2010

Yes they can. Developing new products, reducing waste and carbon footprints, saving money, and improving profits are all by-products of smart green chemistry.

And that’s the daily challenge for Mahmood Sabahi.
Meet the Albemarle and Earthwise Team is a series of inspirational and often untold stories about the people behind important solutions, technologies and products that make our lives better and safer every day.

The series presents some of the key scientists and business professionals who have contributed to the development, progress and implementation of the green chemistry products, processes and principles of Albemarle and the Earthwise brand.

Albemarle Corporation, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a leading global developer, manufacturer, and marketer of highly-engineered specialty chemicals for consumer electronics, petroleum refining, utilities, packaging, construction, automotive/transportation, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food-safety and custom chemistry services.

The Earthwise™ brand represents a family of products that follows strict environmental-friendly standards, along with practicing green chemistry principles and include new green fire safety alternatives to existing fire safety solutions.

Meet Mahmood Sabahi
Please summarize your background.
My name is Mahmood Sabahi; I am R&D Advisor for new products and new processes development at Albemarle Corporation. I am from Tehran, Iran and received my undergraduate and Master degrees at Shiraz University (formerly Pahlavi University). I was awarded my Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry at Syracuse University. After teaching at Kerman University in Iran and later at the University of Arizona, I joined Albemarle in 1990. I have worked on new product development throughout my career here, although at one point, I managed R&D for agricultural and pharmaceutical products. Currently, I focus on new products and processes, from the early stage to commercialization.

My research on green processes and technology advancements has earned awards, as well as grants to fund new ideas. I hold 27 US patents and published 15 papers in scientific journals.

Did your interest in scientific research start as a college student?
As the first member of my family to graduate from high school, I was determined to go to university. My parents were very supportive of my education, even though only 5% of high school graduates in Iran went to college. At that time, the University had a collaborative agreement with the University of Pennsylvania. Through the classes taught by some of the best Iranian and Penn faculty, I saw the big picture of science and research. I search for new knowledge, and I have always been inspired by the great thinkers and inventors.

How would you characterize your research interests and accomplishments?
My research covers pure chemistry, applied chemistry, process development, and development and commercialization of new products. I have always tried to understand how the molecules behave and then make them do what I want them to do! I address the needs of society and the market with a focus on the environment, while generating new science, proprietary knowledge and technology, and new products. The majority of these accomplishments are captured in my scientific papers and patents.

As an example, I invented a new class of amine-phenolic antioxidants for automotive oils that received a green recognition letter from the EPA. I also developed greener processes for the manufacture of two commercial antioxidants, one of which is already implemented.

One of these antioxidants is a component in the additive packages for the engine oil of automobiles. The growing market and the need for increased volumes required that we move the manufacturing process to another plant with larger capacity. This represented an opportunity to re-evaluate the production process, especially how to make it greener and more economical. Through intense R&D effort, we eliminated one hazardous chemical, reduced the cycle time and saved energy, eliminated a hazardous waste stream, and improved the atom efficiency of the process by an order of magnitude. Clearly, incorporating green chemistry had an enormous and highly positive impact on many aspects of that production process.

As part of our sustainability efforts, I am working with researchers and faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology on the life cycle assessment (LCA) of certain products. The LCA focuses on the systematic analysis of the potential environmental impact of products, taking into account the gamut from the manufacture of components from natural resources to the processes that bring them to the marketplace and finally, their decomposition and return to the nature.

Externally, I am involved in the Green Chemistry Institutes of American Chemical Society (GCI-ACS) and Albemarle sponsored the 14th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering conference this year. With my colleagues, I participate in round table discussions with other chemical manufacturers; we also monitor the development of sustainability metrics and green standards by GCI-ANSI (American National Standards Institute), and communicate with leaders in academia. Learning from and benchmarking with the leaders of sustainability and green chemistry/engineering in the pharmaceutical industry is another major focus. This year, we are planning to compete for the Presidential Green Chemistry and Green Engineering Award that is sponsored by the EPA.

The industry and the regulatory agencies are focused on quantification of the Green Principles and Sustainability. The pharmaceutical industry is the leader in developing and implementing green and sustainability metrics in their new product development activities. These metrics help to assess the “greenness” and safety of a product and a process. They quantify raw material efficiency (known as atom economy), energy, waste, water, emissions, toxicity, and ozone depletion potential of a production process for a chemical. Some of these measurements are standard practice in our manufacturing. Our goal is to implement these measurements in the early stages of the development of new processes and new products.

We’ll talk more about green metrics in the next blog post.
I’m looking forward to it.

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Manufacturers and Fire Safety Solution Suppliers Work Together to Increase Environmental Initiatives for Planet, Employers and Consumers

October 26th, 2010

Our Green lab from earthwise - VECAP

Meet Danielle Goossens, Global Product Stewardship Director
Meet the EarthWise Team is a series of inspirational and often untold stories about the people behind important solutions, technologies and products that make our lives better and safer every day.

The series presents some of the key scientists and business professionals who have contributed to the development, progress and implementation of the green chemistry products, processes and principles of Albemarle and the Earthwise brand.

Albemarle Corporation, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a leading global developer, manufacturer, and marketer of highly-engineered specialty chemicals for consumer electronics, petroleum refining, utilities, packaging, construction, automotive/transportation, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food-safety and custom chemistry services.

Earthwise™ is a new division of Albemarle Corporation. The brand represents a family of products that follows strict environmental-friendly standards, along with practicing green chemistry principles and include new green fire safety alternatives to existing fire safety solutions.

Albemarle is the global leader in flame retardants. Flame retardants or fire safety solutions that are critical ingredients in many consumer electronic products, as well as the interiors of automobiles and airplanes, save lives and protect property from fires.

A group of manufacturers of flame retardants launched an initiative to raise awareness of best practices in chemical handling processes among the companies that utilize these flame retardants. Let’s learn more about the Voluntary Emissions Control Action Programme (VECAP) from Danielle Goossens, Global Product Stewardship Director at Albemarle, who is based in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Danielle, tell us about your role at Albemarle and the VECAP program
I am Danielle Goossens and I direct health, safety and environmental issues for Albemarle in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, except for manufacturing plants. I make sure the company is in compliance with the regulations in all the countries we serve. I also manage product stewardship worldwide. Which means I advise customers, who are themselves manufacturers, on the best ways to handle the products they purchase from us and how to avoid any environmental releases.

I received my undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belguim) in 1979. I have worked mainly in research at the University and at Belgian pharmaceutical companies. In 1992, I joined Ethyl (which later spun off its chemical businesses as Albemarle) as an analytical chemist. I then moved to the Customer Technical Service area and assumed my current role in 2008.

What exactly is VECAP? How does it affect consumers and businesses?
As a voluntary program that promotes best practices for the handling of flame retardant chemicals, VECAP has a rather pragmatic goal: to make sure the customers are using the product safely at every stage. Albemarle and other flame retardant producers together acted on their concerns to limit the possible ways that these chemical products might enter the environment during manufacturing processes. In 2004, the companies launched this pioneering program. It’s highly unusual that the industry developed VECAP on its own, because often government regulators impose these kinds of standards on industry.

The three companies who formed VECAP are Albemarle Corporation, Chemtura Corporation and ICL-IP. Together, they sell to more than 500 customers worldwide. In 2009, the members of VECAP surveyed more than 135 sites in Europe, and perhaps another 100 each in North America and the Asia/Pacific regions. The number continues to grow in 2010, of course. At each company, there are between three and eight professionals (engineers, scientists, technical and advocacy staff) involved in the efforts, as well as third-party independent consultants.

By adhering to the best practices advocated by VECAP in sensitive areas, the makers of the plastic products and components that use flame retardants will reduce the potential contamination of food, air, water and earth. Plus, they limit their own employees’ and, downstream, consumers’ exposure to chemicals.

Additionally, there is a certification component; Bureau Veritas is an independent auditor that will certify a company is VECAP compliant and a seal can be placed on their website and packaging. Albemarle’s Magnolia plant, which is the principal facility in the US that produces brominated flame retardants, has been certified.

Finally, it is important to note the methodology for the initiative is a model that has already been adopted for other products by several chemical companies and can be modified for use by manufacturers in other industries.

How do you work with customers to let them know about VECAP?
We conduct a survey in a face-to-face meeting with the customer who purchases our flame retardant solutions. We ask about certain practices and calculate the potential chemical emissions. We then share with them the best practices and perform a separate calculation for the emissions that would be produced by following these new procedures. In some cases, the difference is astonishing and customers are surprised to learn by how much they might lower their emissions and be eco-friendly to the earth and workplace, while making these simple changes.

For example, the area that can have the greatest impact on emission reductions is the handling and disposal of packaging. Albemarle delivers the flame retardant powder to the customer either in small paper bags or in polypropylene supersacs. The paper bag-type of package holds 25 kilograms. We determined that, in the process of emptying the package, there was a waste factor of 150 grams in each one.

In contrast, we suggest a 1,000 kilogram polypropylene bag, something that is 40 times larger, yet it has a remarkably lower waste factor: compare 500 grams remaining in the large bag to 6,000 grams for the many smaller ones. Customers immediately recognize the impact of the amount of product that is purchased and not wasted:

When it comes to disposing of the packaging, whether paper or polypropylene, we encourage our customers to incinerate the bags or to bury them in a chemically controlled landfill.

In many countries, it does not cost any more to implement this best practice and the payoffs in reduced waste and safer operations are obvious, as is the positive impact on the environment.

Please tell us about VECAP’s other areas of best practices in the next blog post.
That will be my pleasure.

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Part 2 – Meet Joe Layman, Jr., Inventor of GreenArmor™

August 31st, 2010

Meet the EarthWise Team is a series of inspirational and often untold stories about the people behind important solutions, technologies and products that make our lives better and safer every day.

The series presents some of the key scientists and business professionals who have contributed to the development, progress and implementation of the green chemistry products, processes and principles of Albemarle and the Earthwise Initiative.

To read part 1 click here.

William J. (Joe) Layman, Jr., inventor of GreenArmor™, was actually engaged in solving a different challenge when he developed the process that led to this environmentally friendly flame retardant.

Fire safety blog from Earthwise- laptop

Fire safety blog from Earthwise-

Describe what you were working on and how you turned it into GreenArmor, an eco-friendly flame retardant.
Like most scientists, I approach an experiment alert to both the process of a reaction and to the result.

The creation of GreenArmor was serendipity, an unexpected outcome that came from the unlikely juxtaposition of two thoughts: process and result. I was asked to look at a polymer flame retardant and how to make the process more efficient, similar to work I had performed with other products, as I mentioned earlier. In this case, I combined certain chemicals and used small amounts of different materials. When it came to a key chemical reagent, I used an extremely large amount. That led to a result that did not work at all the way I had intended. But the process led me to see that those materials could be combined in different amounts and in different ways to give varying results as measured by molecular size distributions. I went back to the drawing board, tried a few variations and, a few days later, literally, I had the beginnings of GreenArmor.

At that point, I went to my boss and described what I had produced. I asked for permission to focus my time, plus additional staff and resources on this new endeavor that was only marginally related to the one I had been asked to work on. He agreed to re-assign me to this project, giving me the freedom to surmise the amounts and the conditions to arrive at the optimal formulation and optimal performance characteristics.

For the next six months, my team and I came up with about 100 sample formulations of the new polymer scaffold. From the beginning, I took a very different approach to develop this unproven technology platform. Generally, a chemist on a team will take complete responsibility for all the steps in a synthetic process. But in my model, we created a new development process and each chemist was a specialist who focused on one step in the process, so as to achieve greater efficiency. Everyone on the team worked on all 100 formulations; that way, we all shared in the glory. The efficiencies and economics of this phase contributed to the speed of an ultimately successful discovery process.

As the leader, I worked with the chemists to develop the technology platform and figure out the molecular architecture and scaffold with the most economical and efficient processes. Later, we envisioned how to connect the processes on a large scale to a plant for manufacture of the product we now call GreenArmor. Scheduled to launch for commercial use in early 2011, we believe GreenArmor will be the preferred eco-friendly solution compared to many flame retardants currently on the market, while maintaining the premium performance product attributes.
GreenArmor is non-bioaccumulative and recyclable and is organically-based rather than mineral-based. It is a polymer, which means the molecule is too large to be absorbed by the body or animal life.

It sounds as if, because you were already focused on atom efficiency and controlling waste, that you came up with the core formulation of GreenArmor, even if that was not your initial objective. And then you applied the idea of efficient testing to the research process.
That’s correct. We are using the same strategy for future GreenArmor products. Again, I am varying the reaction feed and the process parameters, to come up with an exhaustive production of polymer molecular scaffolds with different molecular weight and range and asymmetry. Combine this with the specialization of the participating chemists and the result is another polymeric product, with a significantly different molecular weight and distribution that will be used in other applications, because its performance characteristics are different, tailor-made for its end use. As the leader in flame retardants, it’s important that our fire safety solutions are very customized to the needs of our customers, plastics compounders and polymer manufacturers so that they can add the best life-saving properties to resins used in electronics, appliances and furnishings.

Joe Layman, thank you for sharing your insights into the process and the thought behind the green chemistry of atom efficiency and Albemarle’s and Earthwise’s GreenArmor.

About Albemarle: Albemarle Corporation, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a leading global developer, manufacturer, and marketer of highly-engineered specialty chemicals for consumer electronics, petroleum refining, utilities, packaging, construction, automotive/transportation, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food-safety and custom chemistry services.

Earthwise™ is a division of Albemarle Corporation. Earthwise represents a family of products that follows strict environmental-friendly standards, along with practicing green chemistry principles.

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Behind the Scenes of Breakthrough Technologies are Innovative and Curious Minds

August 30th, 2010

Meet the Earthwise Team is a series of inspirational and often untold stories about the people behind important solutions, technologies and products that make our lives better and safer every day.

The series presents some of the key scientists and business professionals who have contributed to the development, progress and implementation of the green chemistry products, processes and principles of Albemarle and the Earthwise Initiative.

Albemarle Corporation, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a leading global developer, manufacturer, and marketer of highly-engineered specialty chemicals for consumer electronics, petroleum refining, utilities, packaging, construction, automotive/transportation, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food-safety and custom chemistry services.

Earthwise™ is a division of Albemarle Corporation. Earthwise represents a family of products that follows strict environmental-friendly standards, along with practicing green chemistry principles.

Meet Joe Layman
An appropriate place to start is with William J. (Joe) Layman, Jr., who is the Principal Inventor of GreenArmor™, the first fire safety solution in the Earthwise family of products.

Fire safety blog from Earthwise- Joe Layman

On left, William J. (Joe) Layman, Jr., with two of the synthesis team members Zhongxin Ge and Jonathan McCarney attending Albemarle’s Technology fair.

Please summarize your background.
I am Joe Layman, Senior R&D Advisor, and have worked at Albemarle since 1990. I graduated with an Associate of Arts from Valencia Community College, a Bachelor Science cum laude from the University of Central Florida, and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Over the years, I’ve received several awards and scholarships from the universities where I studied, as well as awards and recognition from Albemarle for various products and processes I’ve developed. In addition, I hold six US patents and countless corresponding foreign patents and patent applications. With respect to GreenArmor™ alone, I am a principal author of 12 world patent applications.

When did your interest in scientific research start?
As a high school student, I wanted to be a lawyer. My chemistry teacher, Ken Holt, suggested I major in chemistry in college and then go into patent law as a specialty that would differentiate me from other lawyers. In working to put myself through the University of Central Florida, I got a job at the University in the Radiation Safety Office and started my undergraduate research. The chemistry came easily to me and the professors were supportive. As a senior, I was torn between law school and graduate school. Having grown up in flat Florida, when I saw the Blue Ridge and Allegany Mountains of Virginia, I knew that was where I wanted to be. Jim Wolfe was the Chemistry department head and convinced me to work for him. All in all, it was just sort of meant to be and I had good role models and advisors all the way.

How would you characterize your research interests and accomplishments?
My research work has been and continues to be in developing new chemistries and new technologies aimed at improving “atom efficiencies” or reducing the waste and by-products of chemical reactions. Let’s consider the reaction that adds matter together: A + B = C, and C is the desired product. Compare that to A + B = C and D, where only C is a product and D is something you don’t want. When all the reactants become a useful product; then you have seriously reduced waste and by-products. You also manage the energy required for the reaction and the carbon footprint. The concept of atom efficiency is key to green chemistry.

In the effort to improve process chemistry, reduce by-products, waste, energy input and other process parameters, I also aim to design and synthesize molecular scaffolds and technology platforms for the formation of new products. The objective is for products and processes deemed to be environmentally benign or favorable, and to understand how to manufacture them on a larger scale.

As an example of atom efficiency, I perfected the synthesis of a compound used to manufacture analgesics, like Naproxen and Ibuprofen. The process significantly reduced inefficiencies and lowered costs by $750,000 per year for the manufacturer.

At Albemarle, I am best known for inventing the technology that is the platform for GreenArmor products.

Albemarle is the world leader in fire safety solutions. GreenArmor is the next generation of eco-friendly flame retardants. This new product will be marketed under the “Earthwise™ Fire Safety and Polymers” brand name and is a significant breakthrough in the world of brominated fire retardants.

Scheduled to launch for commercial use in early 2011, we believe GreenArmor will be the preferred eco-friendly solution compared to many flame retardants currently on the market, while maintaining the premium performance product attributes.

GreenArmor is non-bioaccumulative and recyclable; it is organically based, rather than mineral-based. It is a polymer, which means the chemical is too large to be absorbed by the body or animal life.

Now that you’ve mentioned GreenArmor, it will be the subject of our next blog post.
Great, I’m happy to tell you all about it.

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EPA to Take Action on Chemicals Used in Dyes, Flame Retardants, and Industrial Detergents

August 19th, 2010

EPA to Take Action on Chemicals Used in Dyes, Flame Retardants, and Industrial Detergents Efforts to limit exposure and reduce harm to people

Release date: 08/18/2010

WASHINGTON – As part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s commitment to strengthen and reform chemical management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released action plans today to address the potential health risks of benzidine dyes, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and nonylphenol (NP)/nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). The chemicals are widely used in both consumer and industrial applications, including dyes, flame retardants, and industrial laundry detergents. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Read full release

Our Green Lab blog commends the EPA for their continued efforts to make our planet a safe environment for all living things. These efforts align with the chemical industry’s commitment to sustainability in products and to consumer safety. Today, the chemical industry spends millions of dollars on green chemistry R&D to create and introduce new eco-friendly solutions for many business sectors.

For example, the flame retardants that are critical ingredients in many consumer electronic products, as well as the interiors of automobiles and airplanes, save lives and protect property from fires.  These flame retardants are now available as eco-friendly alternatives to products from the past. Trial testing by industry leader Albemarle and its Earthwise brand are currently underway and many of these new green alternatives will be introduced to the market later this year.

High-efficiency polystyrene insulation is very important to everyone’s efforts to reduce energy consumption and global warming, but this insulation requires highly effective flame retardants to maintain fire safety. The chemical industry has been working to develop a new generation of flame retardants that does not present the same concerns as HBCD. The new products are based on polymers (like a plastic) with larger molecules, which impede their absorption by humans, animals and plants.


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Green in, Green out

July 19th, 2010

In the 1980s, computer programmers coined the phrase GIGO as an acronym for “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” This shorthand referred to the fact that computers are literal and will only process the information that is given to them. Therefore, if the input data is sloppy or inaccurate, the result will be similarly inadequate.

Extending the idea that “the quality of the output is a function of the quality of the input” to sustainable products, the acronym GIGO takes on a new aspect, if not a new definition, and becomes “Green In, Green Out.”

Green chemistry and eco-friendly news and information from Earthwise- GIGO

Green, sustainable and recycled are terms that refer to how the processes, production and distribution of a given item impact the planet. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has developed guidelines so that consumers can better understand how companies invoke claims of sustainable, green and recycled in labeling and advertising the entire gamut of products. The FTC also describes the limitations on such labels and ads, so that consumers are not deliberately misled.

Similarly, “organic” refers to the manner in which the product is grown and processed. Many food items and other products may be labeled as “organic;” and, in fact, there are government standards that govern the usage of this label from The National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture. In addition, the nonprofit organization NSF International has its own certification process that labels a product “contains organic ingredients.”

Whether green or organic, many companies have launched new sustainable products and implemented environmentally sensitive processes in response to consumer demand that even the components of complex products, such as televisions and computers, be more green.

In addition, these businesses work with corporate customers and suppliers to promote their adoption of eco-friendly standards.

For example, Albemarle, a manufacturer of a sustainable flame retardant and other specialty chemicals, has developed low-impact manufacturing processes for its chemical solutions. In addition, Albemarle encourages its customers to join the business in participating in the Voluntary Emissions Control Action Programme (VECAP), that aims to eliminate all harmful products from the environment.

Retailers, too, are responsive to consumers and together they are putting pressure on manufacturers to become more green, sustainable and organic.

Whole Foods, known as “the country’s first national certified organic grocer, has launched an initiative to require all personal care items, such as shampoo, bath soap and cosmetics, that are labeled “organic” to be independently certified organic. by June 1, 2011. Any products that do not meet the standard may be sold at their stores, but they will not be labeled organic.

In other words, NGI NGO; Not Green (Ingredients) In, Not Green Out.

Has your company made an effort to use green ingredients in their products? Tell us about it, or write up a post about your experience, and maybe we’ll feature it here at our green lab.

n the 1980s, computer programmers coined the phrase GIGO as an acronym for “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” This shorthand referred to the fact that computers are literal and will only process the information that is given to them. Therefore, if the input data is sloppy or inaccurate, the result will be similarly inadequate.

Extending the idea that “the quality of the output is a function of the quality of the input” to sustainable products, the acronym GIGO takes on a new aspect, if not a new definition, and becomes “Green In, Green Out.”

Green, sustainable and recycled are terms that refer to how the processes, production and distribution of a given item impact the planet. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has developed guidelines so that consumers can better understand how companies invoke claims of sustainable, green and recycled in labeling and advertising the entire gamut of products. The FTC also describes the limitations on such labels and ads, so that consumers are not deliberately misled.

Similarly, “organic” refers to the manner in which the product is grown and processed. Many food items and other products may be labeled as “organic;” and, in fact, there are government standards that govern the usage of this label from The National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture. In addition, the nonprofit organization NSF International has its own certification process that labels a product “contains organic ingredients.”

Whether green or organic, many companies have launched new sustainable products and implemented environmentally sensitive processes in response to consumer demand that even the components of complex products, such as televisions and computers, be more green.

In addition, these businesses work with corporate customers and suppliers to promote their adoption of eco-friendly standards.

For example, Albemarle, a manufacturer of a sustainable flame retardant and other specialty chemicals, has developed low-impact manufacturing processes for its chemical solutions. In addition, Albemarle encourages its customers to join the business in participating in the Voluntary Emissions Control Action Programme (VECAP), that aims to eliminate all harmful products from the environment.

Retailers, too, are responsive to consumers and together they are putting pressure on manufacturers to become more green, sustainable and organic.

Whole Foods, known as “the country’s first national certified organic grocer, has launched an initiative to require all personal care items, such as shampoo, bath soap and cosmetics, that are labeled “organic” to be independently certified organic. by June 1, 2011. Any products that do not meet the standard may be sold at their stores, but they will not be labeled organic.

In other words, NGI NGO; Not Green (Ingredients) In, Not Green Out.

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Albemarle’s Earthwise product researcher recently presented on a new generation of eco-friendly flame retardants

June 15th, 2010

Researcher Kumar G. Kumar presented on the properties of GreenArmor, a new eco-friendly flame retardant, on May 24 at the 21st Annual Conference on Recent Advances on Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Material. GreenArmor is the first solution from Albemarle’s Earthwise brand, an eco-friendly family of products.

Consumption of flame retardant chemicals is projected to reach 3.4 billion pounds worldwide by 2010, according to the latest forecast from BCC Research. With such strong growth it is imperative that professionals in the field keep up-to-date on the latest advancements and applications in flame retardancy (FR).

Green chemistry and eco-friendly news and information from Earthwise- 	Albemarle’s Earthwise product researcher Kumar Kumar presents on GreenArmor, new generation of eco-friendly flame retardants

Researcher Kumar G. Kumar’s program highlights included:
The importance of flame retardants for saving lives and protecting property as flame retardants are built into most consumer products we see every day like computers, televisions, sofas, etc.

Research has proven the use of flame retardants in products can result in up to 15 times the amount of escape time from a burning structure. That extra time can mean the difference between life and death. In recent years, concerns have been raised about the impact some flame retardants have on the environment and consumer health.

Earthwise is committed to developing products that are friendly to the planet and all living beings. GreenArmor is a more sustainable alternative to current brominated flame retardants. Unlike some flame retardants, chemically, GreenArmor’s molecules are too large to be absorbed by the human body or by animal life. This prevents the flame retardant from accumulating in the body, and prevents the compound from negatively affecting the ecosystem.

Kumar used High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS, a polymer commonly used in consumer products like TV, monitors etc) as an example.  HIPS that contains the new flame retardant maintains very high flame retardant properties as well as other key physical and mechanical properties over many molding cycles. This means that the materials can be used over and over again.

Of course, eco-friendly alternatives can only have a positive impact if they are used, so Kumar presented on the performance of GreenArmor as compared to other flame retardants. Research showed that GreenArmor was just as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, other flame retardants.

Three ways GreenArmor differs from currently used flame retardants:

Ecological differences
GreenArmor is a polymeric flame retardant with a molecular weight of over 1000. It is, therefore expected to be non-bioaccumulative and nontoxic. This addresses concerns raised that the previous generation of brominated flame retardants were bioaccumulative. Even though many studies have found brominated flame retardants are non-toxic to the environment, GreenArmor’s polymeric chemical composition is too large to be absorbed by the body or by animal life.

Performance differences
GreenArmor is melt blendable, aiding in processing that leads to production efficiency, and is usable in most of the thermoplastic and thermoset polymers. In cases where some brominated flame retardants are blended together to balance performance between efficient flame retardation and mechanical properties, GreenArmor can be used by itself and provides the best overall properties of any single flame retardant solution.

End product differences
GreenArmor is a very effective and efficient flame retardant.  Polymers flame retarded with GreenArmor offer low melt viscosity that is required to fill in the intricate structures of plastic parts. They are thermally stable, color stable and glossy, preserving the intended aesthetics of products. GreenArmor also offers excellent recyclability.

Summary
GreenArmor is very effective as a flame retardant and is also environmentally stable. This means that manufacturers will no longer struggle to meet both consumer and environmental needs. GreenArmor was designed to be an eco-friendly flame retardant that exceeds industry standards for the current generation of flame retardants. Kumar’s research confirms that GreenArmor equals and even surpasses current brominated flame retardants in practical measures as well as environmental standards.

Given these advantages, GreenArmor may be picked up by a whole range of manufacturers, which would be great progress toward a partnership between environmental sustainability and flame retardant safety.

Read more by downloading the study and the PowerPoint presentation.

Green chemistry and eco-friendly news and information from Earthwise- 	Albemarle’s Earthwise product researcher Kumar Kumar presents on GreenArmor, new generation of eco-friendly flame retardants

About the author
Dr. Kumar G. Kumar, Albemarle Corporation, Senior Research and Development Advisor

With over twenty-one years with Albemarle Corporation, Dr. Kumar Kumar serves as a Senior Research and Development Advisor. He has been working with flame retardant for the past 15 years. He began his work as a synthesis chemist and later changed his focus to customer application and technical services. Dr. Kumar manages the Flame Retardant Thermoplastics application lab and technical service for many flame retardant products for the US and the Asia Pacific. Dr. Kumar also serves as the Research and Development Segment leader for Electronic Enclosures at Albemarle.  Dr. Kumar has a number of publications and patents in the Flame Retardant area. Dr. Kumar received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from University of Madras, India.

Read about the recyclability of GreenArmor.

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Albemarle Introduces New Earthwise Family of Eco-friendly Products

December 8th, 2009

Green chemistry and eco-friendly news and information from Earthwise- Albemarle Introduces New Earthwise Family of Eco-friendly Products

Specialty chemicals maker Albemarle Corporation today announced an important advance in flame retardant technology. Flame retardants used to enhance durable plastics in many consumer and commercial products, from textiles and electronics to airplane and automobile interiors, are vital tools for reducing the risk of fire death and injury for hundreds of millions of people while saving billions of dollars in property damage around the world.

“Our first fire safety solution under Albemarle’s new Earthwise brand, GreenArmor(TM), is due to be commercially available in late 2010. Earthwise GreenArmor is a unique, organic flame retardant suitable for use in a variety of plastic resins that will provide better performance across a wide range of applications, while improving the sustainability of the plastic resins used in many consumer products. GreenArmor is a result of multi-year investments in research and development and will set the new standard in developing innovative fire safety solutions that meet societal needs in an environmentally sound manner,” said Tony Parnell, vice president of polymer solutions.

“The launch of the Earthwise(TM) family of eco-friendly products marks a new direction in specialty chemicals and is expected to grow to include products from other business units and divisions,” explained Dave Clary, chief sustainability officer for the corporation. “The introduction of this unique fire safety solution furthers Albemarle’s corporate commitment to sustainability for the full-cycle of our products. For Albemarle, green chemistry involves all processes, from design and innovation, minimizing the use of raw materials, energy and byproducts or waste, to manufacturing and the final stages of recycled or reuse. GreenArmor’s design considers each of these aspects and we believe represents a great example of designing chemistry from a life cycle perspective.”

In addition to GreenArmor, Albemarle is developing a portfolio of other sustainable fire safety and chemical solutions for diverse industries to address societal and industry expectations for sustainable technology and increased levels of product performance. Producing highly valued solutions for our customers with improved recyclability or reuse, that are non-bioaccumulative and have favorable GHG footprints are just some of the criteria for Earthwise products.

For more information about these products, please visit the Earthwise website.

If you have information pertaining to green business innovation, please forward it to editor@ourgreenlab.com.

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