Local company wins presidential award
Washington, D.C. - Biofine, Incorporated, of Waltham, Mass., received the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award today for its design of a process that converts cellulosic biomass such as paper mill sludge, municipal solid waste, unrecyclable waste paper, waste wood and agricultural residues into chemicals for fuel, pesticides and other useful materials. Cellulosic biomass is otherwise difficult to recycle and naturally resistant to chemical breakdown. The awards were presented to five companies or individuals from a nationwide pool.
"Green chemistry" is chemistry designed to reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. The process developed by Biofine, Inc., converts cellulosic biomass to levulinic acid, an important building block in the manufacture of other useful chemicals.
"The Biofine technology offers a versatile answer to two of society's most pressing environmental questions-the disposal of solid wastes and the economic displacement of fossil fuel use," said Dr. Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of Biofine, Incorporated. "It provides an economically viable route from cellulosic biomass to a wide range of chemicals and fuel."
One such chemical with a large potential market is methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF), a fuel additive that can be blended at the refinery with gasoline to increase its oxygenate level. Another is DALA, a non-toxic, biodegradable pesticide that selectively kills weeds without affecting most major crops.
An independent panel of experts chose the winners as demonstrating practical as well as innovative ways to significantly reduce pollution at its sources. The panel is selected by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, as part of its participation in the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge.