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Green catalysts with Earth-abundant metals accelerate production of bio-based plastic

Green catalysts with Earth-abundant metals accelerate production of bio-based plastic

How crystalline structure can affect the performance of MnO2 catalysts
Date:January 7, 2019

Source:
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Summary:
Scientists have developed and analyzed a novel catalyst for the oxidation of 5-hydroxymethyl furfural, which is crucial for generating new raw materials that replace the classic non-renewable ones used for making many plastics.

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed and analyzed a novel catalyst for the oxidation of 5-hydroxymethyl furfural, which is crucial for generating new raw materials that replace the classic non-renewable ones used for making many plastics.

It should be no surprise to most readers that finding an alternative to non-renewable natural resources is a key topic in current research. Some of the raw materials required for manufacturing many of today’s plastics involve non-renewable fossil resources, coal, and natural gas, and a lot of effort has been devoted to finding sustainable alternatives. 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) is an attractive raw material that can be used to create polyethylene furanoate, which is a bio-polyester with many applications.

One way of making FDCA is through the oxidation of 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF), a compound that can be synthesized from cellulose. However, the necessary oxidation reactions require the presence of a catalyst, which helps in the intermediate steps of the reaction so that the final product can be achieved.

Many of the catalysts studied for use in the oxidation of HMF involve precious metals; this is clearly a drawback because these metals are not widely available. Other researchers have found out that manganese oxides combined with certain metals (such as iron and copper) can be used as catalysts. Although this is a step in the right direction, an even greater finding has been reported by a team of scientists from Tokyo Tech: manganese dioxide (MnO2) can be used by itself as an effective catalyst if the crystals made with it have the appropriate structure.

The team, which includes Associate Professor Keigo Kamata and Professor Michikazu Hara, worked to determine which MnO2 crystal structure would have the best catalytic activity for making FDCA and why. They inferred through computational analyses and the available theory that the structure of the crystals was crucial because of the steps involved in the oxidation of HMF. First, MnO2 transfers a certain amount of oxygen atoms to the substrate (HMF or other by-products) and becomes MnO2-δ. Then, because the reaction is carried out under an oxygen atmosphere, MnO2-δ quickly oxidizes and becomes MnO2 again. The energy required for this process is related to the energy required for the formation of oxygen vacancies, which varies greatly with the crystal structure. In fact, the team calculated that active oxygen sites had a lower (and thus better) vacancy formation energy.

To verify this, they synthesized various types of MnO2 crystals and then compared their performance through numerous analyses. Of these crystals, β-MnO2 was the most promising because of its active planar oxygen sites. Not only was its vacancy formation energy lower than that of other structures, but the material itself was proven to be very stable even after being used for oxidation reactions on HMF.

The team did not stop there, though, as they proposed a new synthesis method to yield highly pure β-MnO2 with a large surface area in order to improve the FDCA yield and accelerate the oxidation process even further. “The synthesis of high-surface-area β-MnO2 is a promising strategy for the highly efficient oxidation of HMF with MnO2 catalysts,” states Kamata.

With the methodological approach taken by the team, the future development of MnO2 catalysts has been kick-started. “Further functionalization of β-MnO2 will open up a new avenue for the development of highly efficient catalysts for the oxidation of various biomass-derived compounds,” concludes Hara. Researches such as this one ensure that renewable raw materials will be available to humankind to avoid all types of shortage crises.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Tokyo Institute of Technology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Eri Hayashi, Yui Yamaguchi, Keigo Kamata, Naoki Tsunoda, Yu Kumagai, Fumiyasu Oba, Michikazu Hara. Effect of MnO2 Crystal Structure on Aerobic Oxidation of 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural to 2,5-Furandicarboxylic Acid. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b09917

Tokyo Institute of Technology. “Green catalysts with Earth-abundant metals accelerate production of bio-based plastic: How crystalline structure can affect the performance of MnO2 catalysts.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2019. .

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    Seawater turns into freshwater through solar energy: A new low-cost technology

    According to FAO estimates, by 2025 nearly 2 billion people may not have enough drinking water to satisfy their daily needs. One of the possible solutions to this problem is desalination, namely treating seawater to make it drinkable. However, removing salt from seawater requires 10 to 1000 times more energy than traditional methods of freshwater supply, namely pumping water from rivers or wells.

    Motivated by this problem, a team of engineers from the Department of Energy of Politecnico di Torino has devised a new prototype to desalinate seawater in a sustainable and low-cost way, using solar energy more efficiently. Compared to previous solutions, the developed technology is in fact able to double the amount of water produced at given solar energy, and it may be subject to further efficiency improvement in the near future. The group of young researchers who recently published these results in the journal Nature Sustainability is composed of Eliodoro Chiavazzo, Matteo Morciano, Francesca Viglino, Matteo Fasano and Pietro Asinari (Multi-Scale Modeling Lab).

    The working principle of the proposed technology is very simple: “Inspired by plants, which transport water from roots to leaves by capillarity and transpiration, our floating device is able to collect seawater using a low-cost porous material, thus avoiding the use of expensive and cumbersome pumps. The collected seawater is then heated up by solar energy, which sustains the separation of salt from the evaporating water. This process can be facilitated by membranes inserted between contaminated and drinking water to avoid their mixing, similarly to some plants able to survive in marine environments (for example the mangroves),” explain Matteo Fasano and Matteo Morciano.

    While conventional ‘active’ desalination technologies need costly mechanical or electrical components (such as pumps and/or control systems) and require specialized technicians for installation and maintenance, the desalination approach proposed by the team at Politecnico di Torino is based on spontaneous processes occurring without the aid of ancillary machinery and can, therefore, be referred to as ‘passive’ technology. All this makes the device inherently inexpensive and simple to install and repair. The latter features are particularly attractive in coastal regions that are suffering from a chronic shortage of drinking water and are not yet reached by centralized infrastructures and investments.

    Up to now, a well-known disadvantage of ‘passive’ technologies for desalination has been the low energy efficiency as compared to ‘active’ ones. Researchers at Politecnico di Torino have faced this obstacle with creativity: “While previous studies focused on how to maximize the solar energy absorption, we have shifted the attention to a more efficient management of the absorbed solar thermal energy. In this way, we have been able to reach record values of productivity up to 20 litres per day of drinking water per square meter exposed to the Sun. The reason behind the performance increase is the ‘recycling’ of solar heat in several cascade evaporation processes, in line with the philosophy of ‘doing more, with less’. Technologies based on this process are typically called ‘multi-effect’, and here we provide the first evidence that this strategy can be very effective for ‘passive’ desalination technologies as well.”

    After developing the prototype for more than two years and testing it directly in the Ligurian sea (Varazze, Italy), the Politecnico’s engineers claim that this technology could have an impact in isolated coastal locations with little drinking water but abundant solar energy, especially in developing countries. Furthermore, the technology is particularly suitable for providing safe and low-cost drinking water in emergency conditions, for example in areas hit by floods or tsunamis and left isolated for days or weeks from electricity grid and aqueduct. A further application envisioned for this technology are floating gardens for food production, an interesting option especially in overpopulated areas. The researchers, who continue to work on this issue within the Clean Water Center at Politecnico di Torino, are now looking for possible industrial partners to make the prototype more durable, scalable and versatile. For example, engineered versions of the device could be employed in coastal areas where over-exploitation of groundwater causes the intrusion of saline water into freshwater aquifers (a particularly serious problem in some areas of Southern Italy), or could treat waters polluted by industrial or mining plants.

    Story Source:

    Materials provided by Politecnico di Torino. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

    Journal Reference:

    Eliodoro Chiavazzo, Matteo Morciano, Francesca Viglino, Matteo Fasano, Pietro Asinari. Passive solar high-yield seawater desalination by modular and low-cost distillation. Nature Sustainability, 2018; 1 (12): 763 DOI: 10.1038/s41893-018-0186-x
    Cite This Page:
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    Politecnico di Torino. “Seawater turns into freshwater through solar energy: A new low-cost technology.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2019. .

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    Matter & Energy
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      Denver Salon is Honored as an Environmental Leader by The ELP

      My Hair Trip Salon Denver, along with 167 other Colorado companies has been recognized as an environmental leader in the state of Colorado in 2018.

      DENVER – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has recognized 168 companies on Oct. 9, 2018 for outstanding environmental achievements that help keep Colorado a desirable place to work and live. The department, in partnership with the Pollution Prevention Advisory Board and the Colorado Environmental Partnership, presented the 19th annual Environmental Leadership Awards at the Infinity Event Center in Glendale. More than 400 government, business and community leaders attended.

      The awards recognized Colorado organizations with gold, silver and bronze designations for voluntarily going beyond compliance with state and federal regulations and for their commitment to continual environmental improvement.

      “We are proud to recognize all of Colorado’s environmental leaders and work with them to reduce barriers to innovation while protecting public health and the environment,” said Karin McGowan, the department’s interim executive director.
      This year’s program will recognize 12 new Gold Leaders, 12 new Silver Partners and 16 new Bronze Achievers. The new Gold Leaders include My Hair Trip Salon Denver, Castle Rock Water, Ela Family Farms, Clifton Sanitation District and Xcel Energy.

      The 2018 24-Karat Gold Award winner will be named at the event. Chosen by other Gold leaders, 24-Karat Gold Award winners are individuals or teams who have gone above and beyond required job duties to create and implement a program or initiative that made a measurable contribution to the environment, the economy and society. The Colorado Environmental Leadership Program is open to all Colorado businesses, industries, offices, educational institutions, municipalities, government agencies, communities, nonprofits and other organizations.

      For a complete list of organizations with gold, silver and bronze designations and summaries of their environmental efforts, please contact Lynette Myers, Environmental Leadership Program manager, at lynette.myers@state.co.us, or visit the department’s Environmental Leadership Program website.

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        We are a certified green business

        When we opened, we partnered with The Certifiably Green Denver Program and the Mayor’s office to become a certified green business. We have been re-certified each year since then.

        Certifiably Green Denver is a joint venture between the Denver Department of Environmental Health and the Downtown Denver Partnership to provide education and recognition to businesses for exemplary environmental achievement.

        Certifiably Green Denver provides free, confidential, non-regulatory environmental assistance to Denver’s business community. The program helps your business find opportunities to improve efficiency and profitability while minimizing environmental liability through pollution prevention. Sustainability advisers are provided at no cost and begin by visiting your business to complete a comprehensive assessment identifying ways to conserve.

        Sustainability advisors at the City are provided at no-cost to Denver business owners.

        Step 1 – Schedule a walk through assessment of your business with one of our advisors. Call 720-865-5457

        Step 2 – After the assessment is complete, your adviser will work with you to prioritize and implement practices that benefit your business. Program advisers are available to provide assistance whether you are interested in single measures or overall certification.

        Compliance – Proper management practices help minimize wastes, reduce downtime, and keep you in compliance with regulations.

        Why Participate?
        Cost Savings – Less waste means lower disposal and operating costs. Ef cient use of materials,
        water, and energy saves money.

        Public Image – Superior environmental practices positively affect your image with customers, the community and employees.

        Public Recognition – CGD publicly recognizes certi ed businesses through free advertising. This includes Internet listings and advertising in the newspaper, magazines, radio, and water bill inserts. Certi ed businesses receive a framed certi cate and a window decal from CGD.

        CGD Offers:
        > Assessments to identify water conservation
        and energy-ef ciency options
        > Information and assistance to meet your business’ environmental sustainability needs
        > Public recognition for your environmental efforts

        Environmental Achievement
        for office and Retail
        Certiably Green Denver (CGD) is a voluntary and non-regulatory program that provides free educational outreach and technical assistance on a variety of environmental issues to businesses in the City and County of Denver. The primary goals of the program are to increase participation and adoption of sustainable practices to minimize use of hazardous materials, improve energy ef ciency and water conservation, and decrease the use
        of resources and generation of waste.

        Our Partners are leaders in the business community who are setting the standard for environmental sustainability.
        Certi cation Criteria
        CGD has developed industry-speci c criteria that target environmental issues and concerns speci c to the of ce and retail environment.

        The criteria are separated into ve categories: Business Management, Energy Ef ciency, Water Conservation, Resource Management, and Transportation. All core
        criteria, plus two electives, must be met in each category
        to achieve the certi cation. The elective criteria are intended to provide businesses the exibility to take advantage of initiatives that are of most interest and bene t to them.

        In order to maintain certi cation, businesses must continue to comply with the core criteria and complete at least one new elective criterion from each category every year. CGD staff will follow-up annually with Partner businesses to ensure that they continue to meet the certi cation criteria, to encourage further improvement, and to lend assistance in overcoming technical issues and challenges.

        We love what the Cerifiably green department is doing in Denver and we love being a part of the green movement in Colorado.

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          Nicole Zamora: Why I am a Sustainable Stylist

          “A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet.” – Carl Sagan

          I care and am passionate about being a “Sustainable Stylist” in the salon, in our community, and in our home because
          I want my children to enjoy a healthy breathing earth.
          By choosing this lifestyle, I hope to inspire others so that we can make bigger changes together.

          It DOES matter a lot even if you do a little bit toward sustainability. Take it in stages and remember that YOU vote every single day by the choices you make in purchases, and transportation, and lifestyle.

          I started my interest in sustainability and healthy living when my grandma would teach us about reusing glass, the toxins in plastics, the importance of real sourced spring water and organic produce, as well as locally organic farm raised meats and local raw honey. She introduced me to Kevin Trudeau who authored, “Natural Cures. What they don’t want you to know.” where I started learning about the disgusting practices of big pharma “drugging” us with pesticides, and medications. Then I started watching some documentaries, actually, MANY documentaries that really got my blood boiling! Paul, our kids and myself live pretty clean and we try in many ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, however, I can look around my house and see plenty more things I can do to make an even bigger impact. I realize that this takes time, so one step at a time! Currently, we recycle and compost (the big green bin with the city of Denver), we upcycle jars all the time, use reusable napkins, babywipes, and rags to minimize paper use, use Thieves cleaners (through Young Living), we are starting our second year veggie and flower garden, closely monitor the thermostat to conserve on energy, we drive a scooter in the summer and Paul rides his bike when he can to work. We love shopping at Arc and love baby clothing exchanging. “Waste not, want not.” is one of my favorite quotes from my friend and we fully try to live up to that.

          This week, for Earth Week 2016, I would like to add new sustainable habits to my lifestyle. I want to get my first home composting barrel started for our gardens. I want to be able to show my kids how it works. To get everyone’s hands in the earth and really bond with it. And buying bulk. I want to reduce my waste by buying more bulk nuts and grains.

          At My Hair Trip Salon, our team has really strengthened through our group mindset for making a huge change through our habits there! As we continue to grow, we will add our progresses to our blogs and on our social media! Prepare to be inspired! I can’t wait to announce we are partnered with Green Circle Salons! Follow along to find out more!

          Sustainably yours,
          Nicole

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            Organic salon?

            We want to make sure everyone has the correct information about us and our salon. We are an organic salon, all of our products and services are eco-friendly in their ingredients, packaging, shipping, and are 100% cruelty free. Our color lines are 100% ammonia free and we have a 100% gluten-free color line as well. We also use a color line that is 100% free of PPD’s which works miracle for clients with skin and scalp allergies.

            One of our products that we carry and are asked about a lot is our hair and body serum made right here in Denver by Phia; at Phia they harness energies created by sun, soil, and water, found in fields, forests, and oceans from the far corners of the world. 100% vegan, never tested on animals, contains no artificial preservatives, sodium chloride, MEA, DEA or dyes. 100% Sulfate, paraben and gluten free. ingredients: Argan oil, Silk Amino Acids, Vitamin E, Flower and Herb Essences. The flower and herb essences are what give the product its fragrance. For anyone with more questions about organic beauty, hit us up anytime or shoot us a line at myhairtrip@gmail.com, or Facebook message us. Look Good. Feel Good. Be Good.

            We also carry Davines as our luxury product line from Italy. We love Davines as a company so much, they are totally in line with our philosophy regarding sustainable beauty. Here is a little word from Davines about where they are coming from.
            – “SUSTAINABILITY
            Our ideal of beauty works through practical and “sustainable” efforts. For us, sustainability deals with the responsibility we owe to ourselves, the people with which we work, our customers, and the world in which we live and operate. Our vision of “sustainability” has a range of connected meanings:
            – “sustainability” in regard to our commitment to minimizing the impact on the environment, not compromising the quality or quantity of natural resources today or tomorrow;
            – “sustainability” in regard to the effectiveness of our products and the safety of our customers, thanks to the privileged use of natural ingredients, enhanced with cutting-edge cosmetic technologies and an artisanal spirit;
            – “sustainability” in regard to “freedom of creation”. Our decisions are led more by “intuition” than “calculation”. Our pioneering spirit guides us to explore ideas beyond trends. At Davines, every idea is born free and then developed with authenticity, in harmony with our values.
            – “sustainability” in regard to “ethics”, which in ancient Greek means “house, shelter, lair”. Honored of being a family company, we make our professional environment a homely place where to develop oneself and create sincere and trustful relationships with others, based on transparency and collaboration.
            In summarizing, “beautiful and good” – as the ancients referred to the inseparable unity between exterior and interior beauty – is another way to say “Sustainable Beauty” and “Sustainable Beauty” is another way to say Davines.”

            Our main color line is Organic Color Systems and they are truly amazing as well, here is a little bit about OCS
            – Mission Statement –
            “We will change salons for the better by eradicating harmful chemicals, toxins, and carcinogens in the salon environment without sacrificing the health, beauty, and well-being of clients, stylist, or salon professionals.”

            Organic Salon Systems provides professional hairdressers with high performance hair products which maximize the use of gentle, nourishing and natural ingredients while minimizing the necessity for harsh or damaging chemical additives. With these healthier products and better information, we hope to bring about superior results, increased competence and a safer salon environment for all concerned. To accomplish our mission, we have adopted the following company ethos:

            • Nurture the beauty, dignity, respect, health, and well-being of all;
            • Pursue uncompromised integrity;
            • Deliver excellence in all that we do;
            • Only distribute the highest performance, healthiest, most natural, and gentlest products available;
            • Continually recognize that the best way to grow our business is by helping our clients grow theirs;
            • Fully disclose all product ingredients and act with transparency, honesty, and integrity;
            • Never divert our product lines or allow them to be sold to non-professionals;
            • Maintain an ethical environmental policy;
            • Do not tolerate any products ever tested on animals;
            • Train, educate, and provide information which will enable the industry and our clients to become healthier while improving their service quality;
            • Provide world-class service to our clients and always strive to become the best at what we do in every regard.

            WE LOVE PHIA!!! made right here in Denver Colorado.
            “A little something from Phia: At Phia, we believe that the complex molecular structures of nature’s purest ingredients contain beneficial attributes and energies that synthetics will never possess. In our laboratories, we strive to create powerful products by combining the best nature has to offer in perfect mathematical formulations while engineering the physics of nature to create unique bio-energetic bouquets.

            For the past six years, Phia’s founder has researched the energy of essential oils. Based on this work, it was discovered that this energy is visible, vibrant and long-lasting. In contrast, synthetic ingredients commonly used in commercial products were found to be faint or lifeless. Natural energies impact the way we feel, the way we think and how we live.

            At Phia, we harness energies created by sun, soil and water, found in fields, forests and oceans from the far corners of the world. Products are created with your well-being in mind, deliberately void of synthetic substances that deflate or destroy the vibrant energy of natural essences.”

            If you have any questions about organic beauty or sustainability or My Hair Trip feel free to give us a shout at the shop or drop us a line at myhairtrip@gmail.com or message us on Facebook.

            more info on the products we carry at:
            http://phialab.com
            http://us.davines.com
            http://organiccolorsystems.com

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              Davines’ New MINU Line, Collaboration with Presidia Project

              Slow & Steady
              Davines is making major changes this year. It has updated all nine of its Essential Haircare families—they’re produced using energy from renewable sources with Zero Impact packaging and a reduced use of plastic. MINU is a new addition to those families, and it preserves color with its shampoo, conditioner, hair mask and hair serum.

              Additionally, Davines is collaborating with the non-profit Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity by joining the Presidia Project; the non-profit builds bridges between ecology, gastronomy, ethics and good food and supports 10,000 small producers that grow plants typical of specific places.

              Each family of the Essential Haircare line contains a single active ingredient from a Slow Food Presidium and features the story, face and name of the farmer who grew it. The goal is to kick-start smaller economies and prevent extinction of local artisan traditions.

              Article and more found at: http://www.modernsalon.com/news/davines-new-minu-line-collaboration-presidia-project

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                My Hair Trip Salon is Officially a Certified Green Business

                GREEN MISSION
                Certifiably Green Salon

                My Hair Trip Salon Denver is Colorado’s only “Green” salon, barbershop, art gallery and jewelry and apparel boutique.

                We have wanted to work in phases from our first day of building, throughout the buildout process, into opening, into our everyday practices as a business and a team, towards the goal of being a certified, green business.

                When My Hair Trip Salon Denver teamed up with the City of Denver and the Department of Environmental Health this year, the vision of how to actually become a sustainable, green business started to become a reality.

                Working with a Sustainability Advisor in the Certifiably Green Denver program, we were able to analyze, and update, sustainable practices in energy, waste, water, and transportation.

                We did it! Today our dream of being a certified green business is a reality! We are officially recognized as certified green salon, and we are proud to be.

                My Hair Trip Salon Denver is Colorado’s only organic hair salon, barbershop, art gallery, and jewelry and apparel boutique. Located in the heart of the Denver Art District on Santa Fe, This Denver salon is at 773 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO, 80204. The salon’s focus in on customer service and customer satisfaction, specializing in chemical free products and services.

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