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OoR announces awardees of new research funding program devoted to green, clean tech

OoR announces awardees of new research funding program devoted to green, clean tech

Findings Staff Report | June 20, 2022

Chemist and University of Cincinnati alumnus Dr. John S. Michelman spent 57 years at Cincinnati-based Michelman Inc., creating environmentally sustainable innovations such as water-based coatings used to create water-resistant paper for packaging fruits, vegetables, etc. that is still biodegradable and recyclable.

He dedicated himself to new discoveries that helped the company grow into a global developer and manufacturer of specialized sustainable chemistry, including solutions for the coatings, printing & packaging, and fibers & composites markets.

Supported, in part, from a generous contribution from the Dr. John S. Michelman Fund for the Advancement of Sustainable Technology, five University of Cincinnati researchers received Michelman Green, Clean and Sustainable Technology Research Innovation Awards to embark on applied research activities that also have the potential to improve the world’s environmental health, environmental stewardship, and sustainability efforts.

“The projects proposed by these awardees demonstrate new and marketable scientific and technical innovations intended to address real-world problems in green-tech and clean-tech fields,” says Vice President for Research Pat Limbach. “The Office of Research is excited to offer this new funding opportunity to UC researchers and can’t wait to see what the first cohort can accomplish.”

The OoR created the Green, Clean and Sustainable Technology Research Innovation Program to further its goals consistent with UC’s Research2030 strategic plan and UC’s Next Lives Here strategic direction, which focuses on research and academic activities that solve problems that matter.

2022 Awardees:

Associate Professor Yujie Sun, Ph.D.,

Department of Chemistry

and Assistant Professor Jingjie Wu, Ph.D.,

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering 

Project: Electrosynthesis of Valuable Biopolymer Precursors from Biomass Feedstocks and CO2

“Our bromine-mediated carboxylation strategy starts from CO2 and furfural, a biomass-derived platform chemical. The process is driven by electricity under ambient conditions. Our strategy can recycle bromine and utilize CO2 as a C1 feedstock. Therefore, instead of being carbon neutral, it is carbon negative. With the support of the Michelman Green, Clean and Sustainable Research Innovation Award, our work will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels in chemical production and capitalize on CO2 in producing greener and environmentally degradable chemical feedstocks.”

Associate Professor Nabil Nassif, Ph.D.,

Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management   

Project: Cost-Effective Solutions to Achieve High-Efficient and Affordable Clean Building Energy Systems 

“The work aims to produce a cost-effective way to integrate the electric heat pumps in HVAC systems to decarbonize or electrify buildings. The project will address current energy and environmental challenges in the United States by reducing total building energy costs and gas emissions, eliminating on-site burning of fossil fuels with electricity obtained from clean and carbon-neutral sources, and achieving better, more affordable buildings for society to live and work.”

Professor Greg Beaucage, Ph.D.,

Chemical and Materials Engineering

Project: Recycling of Plastic Waste Using Supercritical Alkanes and Alkenes (SCA)

“With this award, the University of Cincinnati’s Chemical Engineering Department will purchase and house supercritical-propane extraction (SCA) equipment that the university and its partners can use at the Cincinnati-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Research Lab, Sun Chemical, Avient Plastics, Lyondell Basell, Rumpke Recycling and Procter & Gamble to optimize the recycling of waste plastics. The SCA process results in virgin plastic which can be reused with no residual pigment, paper labels, filler, food waste, additives, and non-polyolefin plastics.”

Associate Professor Neil Ayres, Ph.D.,

Department of Chemistry

Project: Preparing porous polyurethane foams with monodisperse porosity and without the need for a polar organic dispersed phase by using emulsion templating with an aqueous dispersed phase

“The societal outcomes that will arise from the proposed studies funded by the Michelman Green, Clean and Sustainable Research Innovation award will center around the formation of newly engineered polyurethane materials prepared using water-containing emulsions rather than oil-in-oil emulsions. The resulting porous materials have many potential applications, including those in biomedical materials and regenerative medicine, low-density engineering materials for automotive and aeronautic industries, and absorbent materials for organic liquids in oil spills and other environmental contaminants.”

UC faculty researchers interested in applying for this or other future awards from the Office of Research are encouraged to visit our Fundings Opportunities webpage.