Green and safer product chemistry grants

Green Chemistry & Engineering Internship

Summer 2020 project underway. Sasya, a renewable chemicals company in St. Paul, Minn., has hired an intern for the summer and carrying out its project work plan. 

Colin Pierce

The project is to develop a sustainable, fermentation-based process for producing nutritional supplements to replace incumbent processes which use petroleum derivatives and energy-intensive catalysis. The process anticipated uses sustainable resources, less energy, and generates no byproducts and is therefore expected to cost less to run than incumbent processes.

Colin Pierce is a PhD candidate in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota. “I am interested in uncovering how biomolecules, especially enzymes, change over time. If we can understand the mechanisms by which enzymes change in nature, we can design new enzymes to help solve important problems like environmental contamination and to further sustainability efforts around the world.”

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Background

Through these grants, both the host organization and an intern gain experience in advancing the practice of green chemistry and engineering, applied to one or more products or components in any way that supports improved, safer product chemistry.

Grant projects may include work like this:

  • Life cycle comparison of candidate materials
  • Support safety and/or performance testing of alternative materials or designs
  • Work with design, manufacturing, and cross-functional teams to assess the supply and cost of new materials
  • Catalog supplier safety data sheets and certifications as part of green/sustainable purchasing initiatives
  • Update inventories of chemical regulations and support audits of internal and supply chain compliance
  • Learn and perform hazard and alternatives assessment processes
  • Support sales and marketing of reformulated products

MPCA staff work with partners across North America to recruit students or recent graduates from scientific/technical programs at universities and colleges, creating a pool of candidates from which the company awarded a grant may select for interviews and an eventual offer for their position. Organizations may also recruit independently. The intern works with a mentor within the organization for 10-12 weeks during the summer—or beyond that, if the host and intern agree.

Past projects