Green Chemistry Works with Latex

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 @ 09:09 PM gHale


Just one decade after the phrase “green chemistry” became popular, less than 1% of patents in chemical-heavy industries are green.
Imagine that; just one percent. The concept is there: Green chemists use all the tools and training of traditional chemistry, but instead of ending up with toxins they must treat after the fact, they aim to create industrial processes that avert hazard problems altogether.
The result is new materials that are not only safer to use but are less expensive to make.
Why hasn’t the popularity of green chemistry risen more quickly?
It’s partly due to the fact that the up-front expense of redesigning factories often eclipses the potential long-term savings of going green. Also, there’s a psychological factor: Changing worldviews takes a long time—especially when those worldviews involve how businesses get the job done.
Something else that comes into play is sometimes what appears to be greener may actually not be. Take the new trend in the furniture industry of soy-based foams. While soy is certainly a natural product, its use in furniture and mattresses remains a very small percentage of the overall end-product, with the primary ingredients being synthetic materials such as polyurethane.
One company, Duluth, GA-based Vystar Corp. — is doing its part to raise awareness of the advantages of green chemistry within one particular area: the latex industry.
The company has developed and patented an eco-friendly latex material, named Vytex Natural Rubber Latex (NRL), that significantly reduces the antigenic proteins found in natural rubber latex. Not only does this mean that products made with Vytex NRL contain significantly fewer proteins that potentially can cause allergic reactions; in addition, the process in which you make a Vytex-based product requires much less water and energy than traditional latex manufacture.
“Looking at the big picture, green chemistry starts with renewable resources, recycles its reagents, uses less hazardous solvents, and streamlines complicated processes,” said William R. Doyle, Vystar’s president and chief executive. “We at Vystar are dedicated to the advantages of green chemistry and have incorporated its ideals into our manufacturing processes for Vytex NRL. Yet there is still a great deal of work to do. Individual facilities, such as a glove company in India, have done studies quantifying just how much money Vytex NRL can save them. Part of our mission is to make findings like that one better known.”



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