Engineering Faculty Member of Award Winning Research Team
Roy Broughton, a faculty member in the Auburn University Department of Textile Engineering, has received a Presidential Green Challenge Award for technology developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Alabama (UA).
The research team, led by Dr Robin Rogers, Distinguished University Research Professor of Chemistry and Director the Center for Green Manufacturing at UA, has discovered that certain chemicals, known as ionic liquids, will dissolve plant matter (cellulose). The new solvents are water soluble, non-volatile, non-flammable and relatively non-toxic materials. Broughton and his students have been making fibers and films, while developing this new technology.
Broughton explains that the process opens the door for the future development of cellulose-based fibers and plastics that could be used instead of petroleum-based plastics in products ranging from automobiles to textiles. The researchers aim to develop more effective and environmentally friendly ways to convert plants into fibers and plastics - a technology that they hope will provide a viable alternative for Alabama's declining fiber, and paper industries, and decrease the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is an opportunity for individuals, groups, and organizations to compete for annual awards in recognition of innovations in cleaner, cheaper, smarter chemistry. The program provides national recognition of outstanding chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use, and have been or can be utilized by industry in achieving their pollution prevention goals.