Green and safer product chemistry grants

2022 Green chemistry & engineering internship grant
Healthy Building Network was awarded the 2022 internship grant. Healthy Building Network is a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization based in Minnesota, operating the Pharos system of chemical hazard data tools, which enable product makers to investigate hazards of current product chemistries and find safer alternatives. The project planned is for the intern to learn Healthy Building Network’s data tools, identify data gaps in the system, add new data sources and/or features, populate compound groups so users can avoid substitutions with chemicals with similar hazards, and to generate teaching resources for students and professors.

Green chemistry intern checking liquid in a lab

Internship grants

The MPCA periodically offers internship grants to businesses to help advance green chemistry and engineering practices at a Minnesota location. The grant funds an intern, who works with a mentor in the recipient organization for 10 to 12 weeks in the summer, or longer by mutual agreement. The host organization and intern both gain experience in improving product or component chemistry.

Examples of grant projects:

  • Comparing life-cycle effects of candidate materials
  • Safety and performance testing of alternative materials or designs
  • Assessing the supply and cost of new materials, with design, manufacturing, and cross-functional teams
  • Cataloging suppliers' safety data sheets and certifications for sustainable purchasing initiatives
  • Auditing internal and supply chain compliance with chemical regulations
  • Performing hazard and alternatives assessments
  • Supporting sales and marketing of reformulated products

Previous recipients

Previous internship grants have advanced several initiatives:

  • St. Paul-based Claros Technologies is developing novel methods to capture and detoxify per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a notoriously difficult-to-treat class of chemicals. Claros hired Conor Broderick, a recent graduate of Macalester College, to assist with this work. Learn more.
  • At St. Paul-based Sasya, intern Colin Pierce, a doctoral candidate in biochemistry at the University of Minnesota, helped develop fermentation biocatalysts that convert feedstocks into nutritional supplements for livestock. The company was working to create a process that will displace petroleum derivatives and energy-intensive catalysis, use sustainable resources, and generate no byproducts.
  • The Healthy Building Network, which studies the chemical safety of building materials, hired intern Erica Chung, a graduate of Columbia University with a Masters of Public Health in environmental health sciences. She worked to enhance Pharos, the organization's online tool that provides hazard, use, and exposure information on more than 150,000 chemicals and more than 140 kinds of building products.
  • Maple Grove-based Remooble developed safer paint, ink, and adhesive removers for the retail market. The company hired Abigail Giarrosso, a graduate student from the University of Massachusetts - Lowell, to help develop novel paint remover blends and test their performance and safety.
  • Ecolab, the St. Paul-based cleaning products company, hired Christian Hoops, who earned a chemistry degree from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, to work on the Ecolab product sustainability tool. The data in the tool helps Ecolab understand which products are most highly valued and which could be reformulated to be healthier and greener.

College curriculum grants

The MPCA occasionally offers grants for development of green chemistry and design curricula at post-secondary institutions in Minnesota. The grants also help strengthen Minnesota and national networks of post-secondary faculty teaching green chemistry principles.

The MPCA recently awarded Augsburg University more than $14,000 for a project to be completed by mid-2023. Project goals include developing new green chemistry materials for introductory courses and a new green chemistry course, culminating in a new green chemistry and toxicology curriculum.

Previous grants have supported curricula development around the state:

  • Macalester College developed new lab experiments for introductory and advanced chemistry courses that incorporate green chemistry principles, such as the use of safer solvents and auxiliaries in reactions and preventing waste through atom economic syntheses.
  • Northwestern Health Sciences University incorporated green chemistry principles into its general and organic chemistry courses and used posters to educate the student body on green chemistry concepts.
  • The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities developed a lab experiment to study polymeric sutures, which introduces students to the topic of polymer synthesis and characterization. The experiment can be modified to match the education level of students, from high school to advanced college courses.
  • Winona State University introduced the concepts of green chemistry, green engineering, and lifecycle analysis into its general chemistry, analytical chemistry, and composite materials engineering curricula through laboratory exercises and lecture materials on biodegradable polymers.

Green chemistry education resources

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