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The winners of the 14th annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards were announced today, with five winners from industry and academia taking home prizes for innovations in developing non-toxic chemicals and chemical processes.

The awards will be handed out tonight at an awards ceremony at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. The winners in the five categories for the award are:

• Procter & Gamble, along with Kansas City-based Cook Composites and Polymers, won the award for Designing Greener Chemicals for their new line of paints based on sugar and vegetable oils that reduce hazardous fumes and improve air quality;
• The Small Business Award went to Virent Energy Systems in Madison, Wis., for its process of manufacturing fuel from plant sugars;
• Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tenn., won the Greener Synthetic Pathways Award for a technology to remove some harmful chemicals from the cosmetics-manufacturing process;
• CEM Corporation from Matthews, N.C. took home the Greener Reaction Conditions Award for a process that can save up to 5.5 million pounds of hazardous waste generated in the food-testing industry;
• and the Academic Award went to Carnegie Mellon University's Krzysztof Matyjaszewski for his new process to remove hazardous chemicals from manufacturing polymers.
The awards offer national recognition for innovations from corporations, academics or individuals that can help industry achieve their pollution prevention goals or reduce the environmental and health impacts of manufacturing processes. Among the many past winners of the awards are Cargill and Columbia Forest Products, S.C. Johnson and Merck, Chemical Specialties, Inc. and many others. The full list of past winners and innovations are online at the EPA's Green Chemistry website.

Virent Energy Systems' innovative BioForming process is a water-based way to make gasoline, diesel or jet fuel from the plant sugars, starches or cellulose. Using very little external energy beyond the plant's biomass, the process offers a cost-competitive way to produce fuels without the use of fossil-based sources.

Procter & Gamble's award for designing greener chemicals comes in recognition of its partnership with Cook Composites and Polymers and the two firms' development of bio-based solvents that can use half the solvent of conventional paints and emit fewer fumes while drying.

The award to CEM, for its protein-tagging system, recognizes its innovation in speeding and reducing the impact of the process for testing foods for proteins. CEM's system uses less-toxic materials to conduct the test, and can at the same time identify potential protein-mimicking contaminates like melamine, which caused a series of food scares in recent years.

Full details for all this year's winners, as well as previous years' award recipients are online at the EPA's Green Chemistry website.