ICS Magazine

DuPont Receives U.S. EPA's Presidential Green Chemistry Award for New Innovation

June 24, 2003
WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today presented its Presidential Green Chemistry award to DuPont for the company's innovation that uses corn -- instead of conventional petroleum-based processes -- to produce the latest polymer platform for use in clothing, carpets and automobile interiors.

DuPont, with joint development partner Genencor International, recently developed a bio-based process that uses renewable resources -- like corn -- instead of typical petrochemicals. Through metabolic engineering of biochemical pathways, a microorganism was engineered to use sugars from corn in a fermentation-based process as the basis for production of 1,3 propanediol (PDO), the key building block for DuPont Sorona.

Sorona is the company's newest polymer platform that can be used in applications like textile apparel, carpeting and packaging. The new bio-based method uses less energy, reduces emissions, and employs renewable resources compared to traditional petrochemical processes, the company says.

"As a science company whose mission is sustainable growth, DuPont is committed to research initiatives that provide shareholder and societal value while reducing our environmental footprint," said DuPont Senior Vice President and Chief Science & Technology Officer Dr. Thomas M. Connelly. "The path to bio-based Sorona combines the emerging discipline of metabolic engineering with the leading polymer capabilities of DuPont."

Currently, DuPont uses a petrochemical-based PDO to produce the Sorona polymer in Kinston, N.C. DuPont is producing corn-derived PDO at a pilot facility in Decatur, Ill. where carbohydrate processor Tate & Lyle operates a fermentation plant. DuPont is developing plans to construct a large-scale PDO fermentation facility based on the new bioprocess.

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards have been presented annually since 1996 by the EPA to recognize businesses and individuals who have discovered innovative ways to significantly reduce pollution at its sources and have used chemistry to improve the environment. An independent panel of technical experts from government, industry, academia and the non- profit sector judges nominations for the awards.