What is the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award?
The award recognizes innovative chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use, and that have broad industry applications.

How are the winners chosen?
Nominations are judged by a panel of independent technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute.

What was the specific Eastman technology that was selected this year?
The Eastman™ green biocatalytic process was selected.  Eastman scientists have developed a biocatalytic process for making esters for cosmetic ingredients. It is solvent-free and runs at low temperatures resulting in less waste and low energy consumption.

Can you explain that in plain English, starting with “esters”?
Esters are an important class of cosmetic ingredients, comprising emollients, emulsifiers, and specialty performance ingredients. They are traditionally manufactured using methods that use strong acids and high temperatures – methods traditionally requiring a great deal of energy.

What does winning the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge mean to Eastman?
Winning the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Award is a great honor and a testament to the innovative work Eastman is doing to bring green ingredients to the cosmetics and personal care market.

Is the manufacture of esters really that significant?
Absolutely. In 2006 the estimated North American use of esters in personal care alone amounted to 50,000 metric tons. They are an integral part of many cosmetic and personal care formulations.

So where does Eastman’s new award-winning process come in?
Eastman’s new method runs at low temperatures (low energy consumption) and uses enzymes to make esters. This process eliminates the need for strong acids or organic solvents used in traditional processes. This new green method is so “gentle” that Eastman can also use delicate raw materials that would be destroyed in traditional processes.

Is there a compelling market need for such greener processing?
Back in 2005, when our chemists started to work on this project, we could see that green and organic cosmetic and personal care ingredients were in greater demand by consumers, retailers and the major brands. We started to think ahead about what the next step would be – and our ongoing collaboration with all of these groups led us to invest significant research and development into green processes that could yield green products.

Are there products made via biocatalytic processes currently available in the market?
Yes, enzymatic biocatalysis is finding wide acceptance in many markets where it is valued as a green manufacturing technology.

How is Eastman’s different from those already developed? 
We have found enzymatic biocatalysis to be particularly suitable for producing novel ingredients for the cosmetic and personal care market.  We are currently focused on developing practical green manufacturing processes for manufacturing these ingredients on commercial scale.

Are there any commercial products utilizing your process currently available on the market?
Eastman does not currently have any non-exclusive commercial products on the market manufactured via this process, but we have a number of developmental products being evaluated by cosmetic and personal care companies.

Will all the products produced by your process be “green” or “natural”?
We have the capability to produce natural end products via this process, but ultimately the end product will depend on the nature of the starting materials. That is one of the strengths of this process; we can use it to produce an array of products to meet customers’ needs.

Why do you consider this process as a “green process”?
One of our goals in developing this process was to adhere to as many of the EPA’s 12 Principles of Green Chemistry as possible.  Eastman’s biocatalytic process incorporated many of these principles including operating solvent-free to make it easier to isolate products, eliminate purification steps, minimize waste disposal and prevent contamination by residual solvent.  All of the customers we’ve spoken with have accepted the solvent-free process as green.

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