Green Chemistry Initiative

at the University of Toronto

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Upcoming Seminars

Professor Terrence Collins, Carnegie Mellon University - TAML® Activators and the future of water purification

Terrence Collins

Seminar Series

Thursday December 11th, 2014 - 3:00 -4:00 PM

Davenport East Seminar Room

TAML activators were the first and are still the only practical, full-functional, miniaturized replicas of the peroxidase enzymes that are vital to aerobic life. They were first achieved in 1995 after following my iterative oxidation catalyst design protocol for fifteen years. We continue to apply the protocol today for their further improvement. With molecular weights typically <500 Daltons, TAML activators are =1 % the size of the peroxidase enzymes. Iterative design has led to catalysts that maintain their structural integrity and operational efficacy over a wide pH range (3 to >14) and temperature for long enough to enable copious catalysis, but not indefinitely so as to represent environmentally persistent compounds. I will sketch the design process and the deep understanding we have developed of the mechanisms of TAML/peroxide catalytic cycles. TAML/H2O2 in water is capable of performing thousands of turnovers per minute with near quantitative efficiency.

In the lecture, I will show how TAML/peroxide is being developed at CMU and through international collaborations for the removal of micropollutants from municipal and industrial wastewater. TAML processes effectively degrade numerous recalcitrant hazardous pollutants in water including polychlorophenols (used as pesticides), azo dyes, dibenzothiophenes, the products and byproducts of the nitroaromatic explosives industry (including trinitrobenzene), and many more. TAML/peroxide is also remarkably effective at killing pathogens, including the hardiest of pathogens, bacterial spores. I will also describe the Tiered Protocol for Endocrine Disruption (TiPED), which for the first time allows chemists to design against endocrine disruptors with the authority of state of the art science. TAML activators were the first chemicals used to test the TiPED to probe for endocrine activity—we are developing catalysts commercially that have exhibited no endocrine activity across a broad concentration range in a variety of assays including zebra-fish developmental assays.

Terry Collins is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry and the Director of the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Collins designed and invented TAML® activators, the first full functional, high performance mimics of the peroxidase enzymes as well as of any of the great families of oxidizing enzymes that run aerobic life. He is currently building his second CMU spin-off company based on TAML® activators. Collins has won over 20 awards and honors for research in his career. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a fellow of the American Chemical Society and an Honorary Professor and Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Auckland. Collins taught the first course in green chemistry starting in 1992 and has been iteratively developing it ever since—the highly popular course is now called Chemistry and Sustainability.

Past Seminars

Professor Laurel Schafer, University of British Columbia - Catalytic Hydroaminoalkylation: Catalytic C-C Bond Formation via C-H Activation

Laurel Shafer

Seminar Series

Wednesday September 17th, 2014 - 3:00 -4:00 PM

Davenport East Seminar Room

Early transition metals of low toxicity are ideal candidates for building novel catalytically active complexes for preparing industrially important small molecules and materials. The Schafer group has pioneered the synthesis of simple N,O-chelated early transition metal complexes for applications in C-O, C-N and C-C bond forming reactions that are 100% atom-economic. Recent developments include transformations that reduce the need for protection/deprotection protocols and minimize or even eliminate the use of solvent. An overview of Green Chemistry research projects in the Schafer group will be provided with an emphasis on hydroaminoalkylation catalyst development efforts. Hydroaminoalkylation is an emerging catalytic technology for the synthesis of selectively substituted amines and N-heterocycles via C-H alkylation with simple alkenes as reagents.

Professor Laurel Schafer completed her Honours B.Sc. at the University of Guelph in 1993 before pursuing NSERC supported graduate studies at the University of Victoria. She completed her PhD in 1999 and went on to an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of California – Berkeley. She began her independent career at UBC in 2001 as an NSERC UFA recipient, where she has risen through the ranks and was promoted to Full Professor in July 2012. Laurel has received numerous awards: the Boehringer Ingelheim Young Investigator Award for Organic Synthesis (2004), an A. P. Sloan Fellowship (2007), a Humboldt Research Award (2010), an NSERC Discovery Grant Accelerator Award (2011), Canada Research Chair in Catalyst Development (2011 – 2016) and presently she is the Director of Industry CREATE Sustainable Synthesis (2013 – 2019). In addition to accolades for her research contributions, Laurel has also been acknowledged as an outstanding teacher in both the classroom (Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2003) and in the research laboratory environment (Killam Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring, 2013).

Sean Drygas, Vice President of Corporate Development, Bullfrog Powers - Sowing the Seeds of a Greener Economy

Sean Drygas

Seminar Series

Thursday April 24th 2014, 10-11am

Davenport East Seminar Room

Bullfrog Power is Canada's 100% green energy provider. By sourcing electricity and green natural gas (bio-methane) from renewable, pollution-free sources and injecting them into the energy grids, Bullfrog makes it easy for Canadian homes and businesses to switch to renewable energy. The presentation and discussion will focus on Bullfrog's mix of customers and suppliers, its efforts to stimulate the development of new renewable energy production across Canada, and potential future directions for the industry.

Sean Drygas is Vice President, Corporate Development at Bullfrog Power, responsible for expanding the scope of the company’s business. Sean joined Bullfrog at the beginning of 2014 after nearly a decade in Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Canada Bread and its parent company Maple Leaf Foods, for which he led the development of an environmental sustainability strategy. His background also includes forecasting and analytics at FedEx, general management at a videoconferencing start-up in the late 1990s, and teaching and teacher-training in Tokyo. He has been a Bullfrog customer since 2010 and has partnered with Bullfrog to power neighbourhood environmental events with renewable energy.

Dr. Audrey Moores, Assistant Professor, McGill University - Solvent Free Synthesis of Metal Nanoparticles Fe(0) as Sustainable Catalysts and Catalyst Supports

Audrey Moores

Seminar Series

Thursday May 1st 2014, 4-5pm

Davenport East Seminar Room

Fe, an earth-abundant and non-toxic metal, appears as a very interesting candidate to substitute noble metals used as catalysts in chemical processes. In particular, Fe-based nanoparticles (NPs) offer an interesting means to couple activity with high recovery potential, through magnetic separation.(1) We established that iron-iron oxide core-shell nanoparticles (Fe CSNPs) are active in the hydrogenation of olefins in ethanol and in the presence of water.(2) We further improved this system and showed that amphiphilic polymer-coated Fe(0) NPs (APCFeNPs) could protect effectively in situ produced Fe(0) from water oxidation, while allowing a high catalytic activity in alcohol and water-rich mixtures.(3)

Reaction Scheme

Image = Olefin hydrogenation using ACPFeNPs as catalysts, in a flow setting. PS= polystyrene and PEG= polyethylene glycol.(3)

These Fe CSNPs were also used as seed, reducing agents, and supports to generate iron/copper nanoparticles that are able to heterogeneously catalyze the Huisgen condensation.(4)

We developed a novel synthetic method for the scalable production of metal NPs under solvent-free, mechanochemical conditions.(5) The synthesis of Au NPs proceeds fast (1.5 hours) and provides access to gram amounts of monodisperse and ultra-small NPs in the size range of 1–4 nm, without external reducing agents or bulk solvents. We used as a stabilizer long chain amines and observed a dependency of the NP size on the amine carbon-chain length. Novel methods, using biomass-based reducers allow access to other metal NPs, including Ag, Pd, Ru, Re and Rh.

Dr. Audrey Moores is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry since 2007. She is also a co-associate director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Catalysis, funded by Quebec. She completed her PhD from the Ecole Polytechnique, France in 2005, under the supervision of Prof. Pascal Le Floch. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University in 2006 under the guidance of Prof. Robert H. Crabtree. With her team, she now studies how nanoparticles can be successfully used as greener catalysts and the more sustainable synthesis of nanomaterials. In 2011, she was awarded a Science Communication Fellowship for Green Chemistry by Environmental Health News and Advancing Green Chemistry.

(1) A. H. Lu, E. L. Salabas, F. Schüth, Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2007, 46, 1222-1244.

(2) R. Hudson, A. Riviere, C. M. Cirtiu, K. L. Luska, A. Moores, Chem. Commun. 2012, 48, 3360-3362.

(3) R. Hudson, G. Hamasaka, T. Osako, Y. M. Yamada, C.-J. Li, Y. Uozumi, A. Moores, Green Chem. 2013, 15, 2141-2148.

(4) R. Hudson, C. J. Li, A. Moores, Green Chem. 2012, 14, 622-624.

(5) M. J. Rak, N. K. Saadé, T. Frišcic, A. Moores, Green Chem. 2014, 16, 86-89.


Mike Szarka, Director of Commercialization, Green Centre Canada - Challenges in the Commercialization of Green Innovation

Seminar Series

Tuesday February 4th, 2014, 10-11am

Davenport East Seminar Room

Green Chemistry is an exciting field and growing rapidly in interest and acceptance. However, green chemistry is only "green" when it is used industrially and has some measurable impact on resource depletion, pollution, safety and so on; otherwise it is just chemistry. Commercializing green chemistry should be the goal of all green chemistry research, but it is challenging for many reasons. Drawing on examples of commercialization projects managed by GreenCentre Canada, successful, in-progress and unsuccessful projects will be compared to elucidate the challenges in changing the status quo in the chemical industry.

Lyle Clarke, Executive Vice President of Stewardship Ontario - Ontario’s Blue Box: Opportunity Knocking

Seminar Series

Friday November 15th, 2013, 10-11am

Davenport East Seminar Room

There is an unprecedented opportunity to advance the environmental performance and economic sustainability of recycling in Ontario, built off of Ontario’s iconic Blue Box program. We pioneered Blue Box recycling and still have the most widespread and comprehensive such program in the world – but much could be done to leverage this to advantage our environment and economy. There is a real opportunity to improve the consumer experience, become more efficient, and create new business opportunities for those that have talent, ingenuity and a willingness to take risks.

This presentation will shed some light on these opportunities, and will note some of the real challenges that must be overcome in order to realize the vision.

Lyle is responsible for leading Stewardship Ontario into the future. Product stewardship and recycling are at a turning point in Ontario, creating both challenges and opportunities for Stewardship Ontario. While the legislative framework for product stewardship in Ontario is evolving, there is an unprecedented opportunity to advance the environmental performance and economic sustainability of the recycling programs Stewardship Ontario manages. This will ensure consumer needs and expectations are met, while improving efficiency and creating new opportunities for Ontario businesses. Lyle is focused on anticipating and planning for this future, forming a network of like-minded partners that can help realize this vision, and securing the talent and resources needed to make it happen.

Lyle has broad experience in organizational innovation and strategic change management, having served on the Board of Waste Diversion Ontario and Stewardship Ontario, and having engineered a variety of regulatory and business innovations in his previous tenure with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

He is a graduate of the York University Public Policy and Administration Program (1984) and held a number of public policy positions in the Ontario Public Service from 1984 to 1997. He is currently Board Chair of Switchable Solutions Inc. and a non-voting member of the Board of GreenMantra Technologies. Lyle joined Stewardship Ontario in February 2009.

Dr. Chao-Jun Li from McGill University - Exploration of New Reactivities towards Future Sustainability

Seminar Series

Thursday October 17th, 2013, 4-5pm

Davenport East Seminar Room

The efficient synthesis of new molecules is central to the development of any new product in the pharmaceutical, materials science, microelectronics, and biotech industries. On the other hand, chemical manufacturing and chemical products have adversely affected us on personal, local, national, and international scales. During the last two decades, Green Chemistry has emerged as a new philosophy in the development of the next generation of chemical processes and technologies, as well as chemical products to meet today's environmental and economic challenges. Over the past two decades, atom-economy, reaction mass efficiency, and E-factor have allowed us to evaluate green chemical processes. The use of greener solvents provides another important avenue for designing greener processes. What’s next? In this talk, we will discuss potential developments in this field from the PI’s perspective and present some research from the PI’s laboratory.


1 Li, C.-J.; Trost, B. M. Green Chemistry for Chemical Synthesis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci (USA), 2008, 105, 13197.

2 Li, C.-J. "Quasi-Nature Catalysis: Developing C-C Bond Formations Catalyzed by Late-Transition Metals in Air and Water" (Invited Account) Acc. Chem. Res. 2002, 35, 533. Li, C.-J. Organic Reactions in Aqueous Media with a Focus on C-C Bond Formations: a Decade Update. Chem. Rev. 2005, 105, 3095.

3 Li, C.-J. “The Development of Catalytic Nucleophilic Additions of Terminal Alkynes in Water”(Invited Account), Acc. Chem. Res. 2010, 43, 581. Wei, C.; Li, C.-J. Enantioselective Direct Addition of Alkynes to Imines Catalyzed by Copper(I)pybox Complex in Water and in Toluene. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2002, 124, 5638.

4 Li, C.-J. “Cross-Dehydrogenative-Coupling (CDC): Explore C-C Bond Formations beyond Functional Group Transformations” (Invited Account), Acc. Chem. Res. 2009, 42, 335.

Dr. Rui Resendes, Executive Director of GreenCentre Canada - Commercializing Green Chemistry Innovation in Canada

Seminar Series

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, 12-1pm

Davenport East Seminar Room

Chemistry is at the heart of everything we do. It powers innovation, underpins industry and catalyzes economic development. If wielded properly, it can also transform industry into a form that fuels quality of life and protects the environment and human health. This is the very essence of Green Chemistry.

At GreenCentre Canada we have seen first hand that most of the “game-changing” Green Chemistry technologies that have the potential to re-invent manufacturing reside within the labs of academic researchers and entrepreneurs. While these technologies are profound, they are early stage and require the patient investment of time and money to advance them to the market. As such, we at GreenCentre take a “hands-on” approach to deploying this patient investment. In our short history, we have developed a number of new solvent, process, catalyst and materials technologies that have the potential to change the world.

In this presentation, we will review our unique business model and present a number of case studies that illustrate the potential Green Chemistry commercialization can have on our quality of life.

Bio: Dr. Rui Resendes is an inventor, scientist and practiced industry leader. His educational and professional background adds up to a rare combination of expertise, one that has equipped him with the ability to bridge the two distinctive worlds of science and business for a singular cause: innovation. Dr. Resendes graduated from the University of Toronto with a PhD in chemistry and a specialization in advanced materials. Since then, he has filled numerous leadership roles in research and business development with Bayer MaterialScience and LANXESS. During this time, he has contributed to several patent families and has numerous technical and commercial publications and presentations to his credit. In 2007, Dr. Resendes assumed the role of Director of Commercial Development, Chemistry and Materials, at Queen’s University’s PARTEQ Innovations, one of Canada’s foremost technology transfer offices. Shortly after joining PARTEQ, Dr. Resendes led the creation of GreenCentre Canada, an exciting new commercialization model that is the first of its kind in North America. In 2009, he was appointed the Centre’s Executive Director.

Dr. Raj Dhiman - Greening Up the Undergraduate Experience - A 'How To' For Grad Students and Postdocs

Seminar Series

August 30th, 2013, 11:00am-noon

Davenport East Seminar Room

The undergraduate experience in chemistry should include exposure to current trends in research. Given the increasing popularity of green chemistry and the importance of sustainable practices in industry, undergraduates should be aware of green chemistry principles. Clearly, this requires the design of new learning modules that incorporate current content and this opens up curriculum development opportunities for graduate students and postdocs.

However, many graduate students and postdocs may not have the chance to take advantage of such opportunities. Thesis research is top priority and time is a precious commodity! Also, a lack of familiarity with curriculum development is a barrier to getting good ideas off the ground even though one may be interested.

Therefore, this talk aims to answer the following:How can we design tools to help undergraduates learn about green chemistry and design such tools efficiently?

In this talk, the audience will hear the story of the development a new, undergraduate experiment. This experiment utilizes biocatalysis for the stereoselective reduction of a ketone in a sustainable solvent. The story will demonstrate that the development of teaching tools for undergraduates is both a simple and rewarding process.

Dr. Mahmood Sabahi - Sustainable Chemistry in Chemical Industry

Seminar Series

July 24th, 2013, 10:00-11:00am

Davenport East Seminar Room

Chemical enterprise is valued at more than $760 billion in the United States and $3.5 trillion worldwide. Its value chain covers a wide range of chemicals from simple commodity products to very complex pharmaceutical active ingredients. As the molecules grow more complex, they require more complicated manufacturing processes that involve more transformations and a larger array of chemicals. Large and mid-size chemical companies have generally been involved in manufacturing such arrays of chemicals for a long time. The incorporation of the principles of green chemistry in the culture of these companies requires education, promotion, recognition of achievements, and demonstration of the value and contribution to the bottom-line. Also, the application of green chemistry & engineering principles and metrics must be tailored towards the needs of each such manufacturing process. In this presentation, we will share our experience in the successful implementation of green chemistry and engineering principles and the life cycle inventory assessment program at Albemarle Corporation, a global chemical company that produces catalysts, polymers, and a wide range of fine chemicals for industrial use. We will also discuss the challenges we should all expect in the implementation of such programs in well-established manufacturing cultures.

January - June 2013 Seminars

2012 Seminars