by Emily Vontom, Debra Johnson, Published November 12, 2012
A professor at Eastern Michigan University who developed sustainable alternatives within the polymer and coating industries was recognized for his innovations during the Michigan Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, held October 26 in Detroit.
Vijay Mannari, a professor in the College of Technology at Eastern, was presented with the Michigan Green Chemistry Governor's Award for 2012 (Governor's Award) for his research on "Sustainable and advanced coatings materials based on soybean oil." Mannari was selected from more than 50 nominations. The award was within the academic category.
"Professor Mannari showed that his technology provides a number of environmental benefits compared to existing alternatives, according to the principles of green chemistry," said Christopher Affeldt, pollution prevention program analyst at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. "The technology can be used widely, including here in Michigan."
On behalf of Governor Rick Snyder, Dan Wyant, director of the Department of Environment Quality (DEQ), presented the award to Mannari. The award is given annually by the Governor of Michigan to promote excellence in innovation, economic development and public health risk reduction by businesses and institutions.
"I am very honored to have received the Governor's Award and would like to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of my entire research team at Eastern's Coating Research Institute," said Mannari. "The award acknowledges the institute as an innovation leader."
The Governor's Award was established in 2009 by the Michigan Green Chemistry Roundtable to recognize innovations in green chemistry as important milestones in celebrating Michigan's success.
Over the past several years, Mannari and his research group have developed soybean, oil-based innovative materials that can replace petroleum-based coatings used in many industrial polymers and coating products.
They are working with several leading companies within the polymer and coating industries to help commercialize and bring these safer and sustainable products to consumers.
"Development of sustainable materials from renewable resources is very important not only for reducing our dependence on petroleum, but also for reducing our carbon footprint," said Mannari.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship have funded the soy-based coatings research at Eastern's Coatings Research Institute. Mannari anticipates another grant from the USDA for $490,000 in the near future.
"I look forward to receiving our new grant that will further the development of more innovative sustainable materials and create opportunities for students and preparing them for future challenges," Mannari said.