Oregon green chemistry center wins $20M grant

Oregon's green chemistry leadership got a boost this week with a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Oregon's green chemistry leadership got a boost this week with a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

A collaboration between two Oregon universities has paid off with a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop greener chemical processes.

The Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, a collaboration between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, beat out teams from two other universities to win the grant. The center joins the National Science Foundation’s Centers of Chemical Innovation program, which aims to support a new, greener chemical industry in the U.S. through university research.

The $20 million “phase two” grant will be used largely to fund graduate student work through the center.

The phase one grant, $1.5 million, from the foundation established the center in 2008.

“That was more of a planning grant,” said Douglas Keszler, a chemist at OSU and the principal investigator under the original grant.

The initial set-up of the center included jointly appointing faculty to both universities and establishing research committees with students from both schools.

“It’s a very open system we have going,” said Keszler, who is an adjunct professor at UO in addition to his role at OSU.

Keszler said that under the new grant the center will expand the work that it has done in green chemistry, specifically the development of water-based processes that are of interest in electronics and renewable energy materials manufacturing.

“Most importantly it gives us a base to establish an ecosystem to translate this research for companies,” Keszler said. “We’ll be expecting, and be training, students to be entrepreneurs.”

The Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, originally known as the Center for Green Materials Chemistry, is one of five phase-two centers designated by the NSF.

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