Princeton’s Paul Chirik awarded $1M for green chemistry research

Written by
Wendy Plump, Department of Chemistry
Aug. 8, 2022

Princeton chemist Paul Chirik  has received a large research grant to to explore the fundamentals of green chemistry, a young field that's considered critical to helping offset the impact of the chemical industry and others. The grant is from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, whose namesake is Intel's co-founder and former chairman, Gordon Moore.

Once considered an oxymoron, green chemistry has enjoyed a new vigor in recent years as researchers take up the banner to find chemical solutions for everything from closed-loop recycling to the replacement of toxic catalysts in industrial processes. At least 90% of industrial-scale chemical reactions rely on catalysis, and 35% of the world’s GDP is based on catalytic processes. 

Chirik will focus on using iron, instead of rare Earth metals, as a catalyst for important chemical reactions.

“Over the next century, catalysis will be called upon to solve many of society’s outstanding challenges, including sustainability, climate, renewable energy and the discovery of revolutionary medicines,” he said. “The use of more Earth-abundant transition metals as catalysts, like iron, is attractive to not only improve economics and to increase supply-chain robustness, but also to reduce the global warming potential of many industrial processes.”

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