Monday, August 3, 2009
Once known as one of the most polluted cities in the United States, Pittsburgh has transformed itself into one of the world's most livable cities, taking great strides to create a cleaner, greener environment. Key to the reduction of dangerous pollutants is a field of study called green chemistry.
Carnegie Mellon is at the forefront of this movement, leading research and education in safer chemicals.
Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry Terry Collins taught the first college courses in green chemistry at Carnegie Mellon in 1992. Collins continues to innovate education, developing free curricula for teachers around the world.
On the research front, two Carnegie Mellon researchers have been recognized with the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 1999, Collins received the award for his work developing a new class of oxidation catalysts that can be used to remove toxins from water and soil.
J.C. Warner Professor of the Natural Sciences Krzysztof Matyjaszewski was honored for using environmentally friendly reducing agents like vitamin C to green a widely used method of polymer fabrication called ATRP in 2009.
Collins and Matyjaszewski's work has been commercialized through spinoff companies GreenOx Catalysts and ATRP Solutions, both headquartered in Pittsburgh. The companies bring the Carnegie Mellon-developed technologies to companies worldwide, making Pittsburgh, once the exporter of hazardous chemicals, a distributor of green chemistry solutions.