BCGC Portfolio

Greener Solutions 2020: PFAS-free home product packaging

The product packaging researchers identified biopolymer films for product packaging for a range of Method Home products, including laundry powders, detergents, and soaps, with a range of moisture barrier needs. The team came up with strategies that fell into three categories: Biopolymer films derived from natural sources, including chitosan, pectin, and gelatin; chemical additive cross-linking film to improve barrier and mechanical properties, including with genipin and ferulic acid; and physical additive nanofillers to reinforce film’s barrier and mechanical properties,...

Greener Solutions 2020: PFAS removal for carpet recycling

The carpet recycling group presented innovative strategies to remove PFAS from carpet face fiber fluff during recycling. The team provided strategies with a range of timescales to implementation. The first strategy involved using base hydrolysis and granular activated carbon (GAC) adsorption to remove but not destroy PFAS. The second strategy built on the first, but proposed using reverse osmosis and plasma treatment to destroy the PFAS. The third strategy proposed the use of esterase (specifically pig liver esterase) as an alternative to using sodium hydroxide in the other...

Greener Solutions 2015: Low-temperature oily soil removal in laundry

This team was challenged to assess current laundry detergent formulations and propose strategies for laundry detergents that work effectively in cold water, low-energy wash cycles. Partners on this challenge included Method and Seventh Generation, who are both seeking industry-wide solutions to this challenge, and Amyris and BioAmber, two companies who are developing innovative, sustainable, and green ways to produce chemicals.

Final...

Greener Solutions 2016: Safer PHA/PHB colorants for marine buoys

Mango Materials, of Berkeley, CA, makes the biopolymers PHA (Poly-hydroxyalkanoate ) and PHB (poly-hydroxybutryate) from waste methane. The Mango team was challenged to investigate colorants because while PHA is biodegradable, many of the substances added to it for application performance are not and some of the currently used industrial colorants have properties that are cause for concern. Iron oxide red, for example, is persistent in the environment and has shown evidence of carcinogenic effects.

The Mango team researched several areas in...

Greener Solutions 2016: Mosquito repellent clothing with Patagonia

The challenge for the Patagonia team was to develop a non-toxic, environmentally benign method for a fabric, clothing or a clothing treatment to prevent the biting of the wearer by mosquitoes. The baseline condition that the team investigated was the common industry treatment of polyester with permethrin. Permethrin, although ultimately plant-based, is an insecticide used as a repellant and is toxic to insects and aquatic life when released in the environment. It was expected that all innovative solutions to the challenge would be explored,...

Greener Solutions 2013: Cotton Cross-Linking and Fabric Finishing for Levi's

In 2013 we partnered with Levi Strauss &Co. and Biomimicry 3.8 to identify and evaluate potential biomimetic approaches to fabric finishing that would eliminate the use of formaldehyde and diisocyanates. Students worked alongside industrial partners to identify the most promising replacement materials and have identified a number of inherently less hazardous approaches to fabric finishes which will need to be tested in the lab. At the end of the semester a few of the students were interested in testing one or two of the new ideas in lab. These initial lab investigations...

Greener Solutions 2017: Durable water repellency with WLGore

This interdiscipilinary team investigated alternatives to perfluorinated compounds for DWR (durable water repellency) in outdoor clothing. The Gore team was challenged to create a high-performance fabric treatment that could resist both water and oils. They recommended silica nanosols and blow spinning as the two most promising solutions; these reported the best hydrophobicity, potential for oleophobicity, and application to textiles.

A silica nanosol coating provides hierarchical structuring through silica nanoparticles that bond with the...

Greener Solutions 2018: Ocean Plastics with Method

The Ocean Plastics team compared the performance and end-of-life behavior of bio-based plastics to petroleum-derived types, with the goal of identifying polymers that behave more similarly to cellulose, keratin, or DNA polymers in the environment. Their research indicated that plastics that degrade only to nano- or micro-scale structures can be very hazardous, readily absorbing persistent organic pollutants and remaining in the food chain. The problem of the ubiquity of nano-plastic bits in the environment was an additional and novel performance challenge that they considered...

Greener Solutions 2018: Roofing materials with Oakland EcoBlock

Partnered with The Oakland EcoBlock, the roofing materials group searched for compounds to replace the UV protection HALS compounds that typically suffuse TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) roofing membranes. Although HALS compounds are effective and regenerative (individual HALS molecules can undergo multiple antioxidant cycles), they are toxic and tend to leach out of the membrane, posing an environmental threat . This group investigated a strategy of coupling natural antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and poly-catechin to produce a...

Greener Solutions 2021: Alternatives for 6PPD in tire manufacturing

Saving coho salmon: Alternatives for 6PPD in tire manufacturing

In early 2021, 6PPD-quinone, which is a transformation product of 6PPD, was discovered as the likely cause of pre-spawn mortality in Coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest. 6PPD is a critical tire rubber additive with high-performing antidegradant properties. The team proposed four strategies: the use of food preservatives, such as gallates; replacement with the polymer lignin; modification of 6PPD to prevent formation of its toxic quinone form; and finally, broader process-level changes,...