Winning projects announced for the 2019 Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge

Published: Thursday 9th May 2019
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Top projects awarded for innovative wastewater treatments and solutions for ecosystem balance

Two new chemistry solutions that use a new green technique to remove toxic metal from wastewater and improve pollination and ecosystem health with the help of butterflies have won the Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge.

The 2019 first prize winner is Ramia Albakain, Associate Professor at the University of Jordan. The second prize was awarded to Dr. Ankur Patwardhan, Head of the Biodiversity Department at Maharashtra Education Society’s Abasaheb Garware College, Pune, India.

The Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge is a collaboration between the Elsevier Foundation, Elsevier’s chemistry journals, and most recently the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) – which joins the partnership by contributing new expertise, networks and a third prize for entrepreneurial spirit.

The five finalists for the 2019 edition pitched their projects during the 4th Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Dresden, after being selected from over 400 submissions by a jury of experts in the field.

“The Challenge’s top 5 finalists all presented highly competitive proposals,” said Professor Dr. Klaus Kümmerer, Chair of the Challenge’s scientific jury. “With our decision, we are glad to recognize projects that have the potential to address urgent issues in their communities.”

2019 Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge Winners, Drs. Albakain and Patwardhan (right) (Credit: Jürgen Lösel)
2019 Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge Winners, Drs. Albakain and Patwardhan (right) (Credit: Jürgen Lösel).

The first prize, worth EUR €50,000, was awarded to Dr. Ramia Albakain for her project “New green technique to remove toxic metal from wastewater”. Due to a landscape where little precipitation occurs, Jordan suffers from year-long water shortages. To tackle these desertic climate challenges, the project showcased environmentally-friendly solutions to use green membranes to treat medical wastewater, making it safe for agricultural irrigation.

“Receiving this prize will enable me to not only initiate collaborations in Jordan, but to also do that internationally: I’m looking forward to more opportunities do joint capacity building with my team, for the success of the project,” said Dr. Albakain.

“The two winning projects of this year’s Challenge demonstrate the great impact they can have even beyond their local areas,” said Rob van Daalen, Senior Publisher of Chemistry Journals at Elsevier. “By awarding these prizes, we feel that we can truly help the winners take those essential next steps in their work.”

Dr. Patwardhan was awarded the second prize of EUR €25,000 for his project, “Butterfly attractant for pollination and ecosystem health”. The project focuses on the plant-pollinator interactions that play a vital role in maintaining ecosystem balance and aims at enhancing floral visits by butterflies through the development of natural attractant formulations.

“This prize gives me the energy and confidence to keep going: to serve the community is a priority, and as first step I’ll reach to the farmers who have supported the development of the project,” said Dr. Ankur Patwardhan.

“Through projects such as these, which clearly tackle key UN Sustainable Development Goals around life on land and water security, the Challenge is helping build a stronger, green and sustainable chemistry community, and will boost knowledge exchange around the globe. Though it was difficult to make a choice, all of our finalists are truly winners,” said Ylann Schemm, Director of the Elsevier Foundation.

Additionally, Mario Heredia Salgado has received the third and newest Challenge prize from ICS3, the “Entrepreneurial Spirit in Sustainable Chemistry Award”. Dr. Salgado developed a process to produce biochar from agribusiness biomass wastes to improve stressed soils. Mr. Heredia Salgado, a researcher at the Energy Systems and Climate Changes at Aveiro University in Ecuador, received a cash prize of EUR €25,000 plus the onboarding and implantation support of the ISC3’s Global Start-up Service.

All five of the Finalists will be invited to attend the 2019 ISC3 Green & Sustainable Summer School at Leuphana University in September.

For further information about the Green Chemistry Challenge, visit the Elsevier Foundation website, or join the conversation on social media at @ELSchemistry and #GREENCHEM2019.

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