Berkeley – On August 6th the Berkeley College of Chemistry reported that the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC) would be sharing a $35,000 cash award for its entry in the “Developing New Preservatives for Personal Care & Household Products” challenge held by the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) and InnoCentive. BCGC was part of an academic/industry/government team comprising researchers from the Western Regional Research Center (Albany, CA) of the USDA, University of Victoria, the household products manufacturer Method Products, and the green chemistry venture capital fund Safer Made. The challenge required teams to develop, test, and present a preservative compound that prevented bacterial and fungal growth in cleaning and personal care products. Nearly 50 teams entered the contest, which launched April, 2017, and offered a first place prize of $150,000.
The BCGC team was one of four first place finalists who split the top prize. Their winning entry was a “reversible” preservative compound, which was active in higher concentrations, as a product, but inactive once it was diluted, causing its two subunits to split apart harmlessly in wastewater and or the environment. The research and development of this novel preservative built on research and collaborations that started with the Greener Solutions class of 2014, and have grown through a series of internships, research projects and industrial partnerships.
The work required an interdisciplinary team of chemists, microbiologists, toxicologists, and product formulators. Several members of the winning research team are associates of BCGC: Heather Buckley (former board member of BCGC and Greener Solutions Student, now Assistant Professor at University of Victoria), William Hart-Cooper (current associate director and co-instructor of the Greener Solutions course, now Research Chemist at the USDA), Kaj Johnson (Green Chef at Method Products and Greener Solutions partner), and Marty Mulvihill (former Executive Director of BCGC and Greener Solutions instructor, current BCGC board member and co-founder of Safer Made). All have been a part of the BCGC preservatives work from the very beginning, and carried the project through its many phases as their careers have progressed. David Faulkner (former SAGE student and current BCGC postdoc) joined the research project in 2015. In 2017, the team published a report of some of their initial findings in the search for safer preservatives, and the article was selected for inclusion in the ACS Virtual Special Issue on Promoting the Development and Use of Quantitative Sustainability Metrics in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.
The BCGC is proud of its role in the work on this award-winning project, and we are excited to continue it, developing safer preservative compounds and advancing the role of green chemistry in personal care products.
The formal announcement can be found here.