Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clean Green Chemistry

The Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) defines green chemistry (also called sustainable chemistry) as,

"the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use."

Green chemistry technologies provide a number of benefits, including:
  • reduced waste, eliminating costly end-of-the-pipe treatments
  • safer products
  • reduced use of energy and resources
  • improved competitiveness of chemical manufacturers and their customers.
The USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot Program has, unsurprisingly, issued patents for green chemistry inventions. One of these was granted to George Hoag (Bloomfield, CT) and three co-inventors in April 2010. Their invention, “Green synthesis of nanometals using plant extracts and use thereof”, is assigned to VeruTEK Technologies, Inc. Patent US 8,057,682, found in Way Better Patents’ Industry Index provides, per Claim 1

A method for reducing the concentration of a contaminant in a medium, comprising:
combining a metal nanoparticle with the medium;
introducing a plant-based surfactant into the medium;
and allowing the metal nanoparticle to reduce the concentration of or stimulate biological reduction of the concentration of the contaminant.
Subsequent claims describe Hoag et al.’s method for producing the metal nanoparticles. Plant extracts are used in the process; these can include “tea extract, green tea extract, coffee extract, lemon balm extract, sorghum bran, sorghum bran extract, polyphenolic flavonoid, flavonoid, flavonol, flavone, flavanone, isoflavone, flavans, flavanol, anthocyanins, proanthocyanins, carotenoids, catechins, quercetin, rutin, and combinations” (Claim 4). They are “obtained from a waste product selected from the group consisting of fruit juice pulp, fruit juice manufacturing wastewater, fruit juice manufacturing waste, food processing waste, food processing byproduct, wine manufacturing waste, beer manufacturing waste, and forest product processing waste” (Claim 5).

The contaminants to be reduced? They include “perchlorate, nitrate, and combinations” (claim 15), or heavy metals or their compounds, including mercury, nickel, silver, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic (claim 16).

And the substances to be cleaned? They include “biologically contaminated material, soil, groundwater, water, wastewater, air, and combinations” (Claim 19).

Not limited to cleaning contaminated solutions, one of the inventors’ embodiments

provides devices comprising a metal nanoparticle prepared according to any of the methods disclosed herein. The device can be, for example, a medical diagnostic test, a medical material such as a bandage, a targeted drug delivery vehicle, a chemical synthesis system, a pollution control or monitoring device, a fuel cell, and an electronic device.
Pollution control, heavy metal removal, medical diagnostics, bandages, drug delivery, chemical synthesis, fuel cells, and electronic devices. In part from fruit juice pulp, food processing waste, wine manufacturing waste, beer manufacturing waste, or forest product processing waste.

That’s a very clean green invention.

This invention contains a ‘Government Interest’ statement indicating a research agreement between 
VeruTEK Technologies, Inc. (Bloomfield, CT), the patent's assignee and EPA. 
"This invention was made with the support of the United States Government as indicated in a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (EPA Case No. 755–09). The Government has certain rights in the invention."

VeruTEK Technologies, founded in 2006,  is one of the Young Guns featured in the Way Better Patents Discover and Analysis Report.