News Release

Winners of the 2018 Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge

Top challenge projects source guava leaves and fish bones to create new preservatives and fertilizers

Grant and Award Announcement


Winning Projects Announced for the 2018 Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challeng

image: These are the 2018 Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge Winners, Dr.'s Rajbhandari and Admiano (right) view more 

Credit: Luz Inés Baños Quintana

Berlin, May 17, 2018

Two new chemistry solutions that use guava leaves to combat food spoilage and turn fish bones into phosphate rich fertilizer won the Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. The 2018 first prize winner is Prajwal Rajbhandari, President of the Research Institute for Biosciences & Biotechnology in Nepal. The second prize was awarded to Dr. Alessio Adamiano.

The Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge is a collaboration between the Elsevier Foundation and Elsevier’s chemistry journals. The five finalists for the 2018 edition pitched their projects during the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Berlin, after being selected from over 500 submissions by a jury of experts in the field.

“We are proud to award two projects with immediate relevance for communities in developing countries,” said Professor Dr. Klaus Küemmerer, Chair of the Challenge’s scientific jury.

Dr. Rajbhandari, was awarded the first prize of EUR €50,000 for his project, “Guava leaves as natural preservatives for farmers of Nepal.” Due to a lack of viable non-toxic preservatives, or cold chain technologies, one-third of Nepal’s produce is spoiled before it reaches market each year. Dr. Rajbhandari’s project taps the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of guava leaves to make a water-based, sprayable natural preservative. “Winning the Challenge is more than I could dream of. I can now scale up the project, and work with local teams to turn it into a success.” said Prajwal Rajbhandari.

“Using guava leaves as a natural preservative replaces toxic chemicals and can be easily implemented at a local level involving local people; directly allowing for the safe transport of fruits to the local market without any residues being dangerous for the consumer and the farmers,” Dr. Küemmerer added.

The 2018 Challenge builds off the success of previous years, which saw prizes awarded for chemistry solutions that tapped native plants’ residual waste to tackle mosquito-borne diseases through environmentally friendly insecticides, and a focus on eco-remediation of land devastated by crude oil spills in Nigeria.

“The top five proposals presented at this year’s Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference were quite diverse and each of these projects could have been a winner,” said Rob van Daalen, Senior Publisher of Chemistry Journals at Elsevier. “Both winning projects are important and urgent, and they use local resources and local knowledge to improve the situation in their communities.”

The second prize, worth EUR €25,000, was awarded to Dr. Alessio Adamiano, a researcher for the Italian National Research Council at the Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramic Materials. His project, “Phos-Fate: Empowering fishing communities for climate change”, demonstrated how phosphorous can be recycled in a simple, scalable way by converting fish bones into products such as fertilizers. Dr. Adamiano and his team will work with partners in Senegal and Spain to pilot this unique circular economy project. “My team will do their best to make the most out of this wonderful opportunity,” said Dr. Adamiano.

“Phosphate is basic to all life, but especially food production and plants,” Dr. Küemmerer commented. “Its steady depletion and declining quality as a natural resource is an issue for all countries. Phos-FATE will not only reduce dependence on an expensive import for developing countries, but will create local value, jobs and eventually produce a higher quality of phosphate for crops.”

“Through projects such as these, which clearly tackle key UN Sustainable Development Goals around food security, the Challenge is helping build a stronger, green and sustainable chemistry community, and will boost knowledge transfer around the globe.” said Ylann Schemm, Director of the Elsevier Foundation.

Additionally, the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ICS3) will support the development and implementation of a third proposal, “Biomass-plastic: Eco-friendly structural materials”, from Dr. Manuel Palencia, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia, with in-kind resources.

For further information about the Green Chemistry Challenge, read more on Elsevier Connect, visit the Elsevier Foundation website, or join the conversation on social media: @ELSchemistry and #GREENCHEM2018.


Notes for editors:
For over 60 years, Elsevier has been a leading publisher of chemistry journals and books. We publish highly respected titles, including prestigious society journals, book series, and a range of impressive major reference works. The Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge and the related Conference were initiated and are sponsored by the chemistry department. The associated journals are: Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry, Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy, and (recently launched) Materials Today Sustainability.

Dr. Küemmerer is Director of the Institute of Sustainable Chemistry at Leuphana University Lüeneburg and also serves as the scientific director for ISC3, The International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative, Chair of the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference, and is Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s journals Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry and Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy.

About The Elsevier Foundation
The Elsevier Foundation provides grants to knowledge centered institutions around the world, with a sustainability focus on innovations in health information, diversity in STM, research in developing countries and technology for development. Since 2006, the Foundation has awarded more than 100 grants worth millions of dollars to non-profit organizations working in these fields. Through gift-matching, the Foundation also supports the efforts of Elsevier employees to play a positive role in their local and global communities. The Elsevier Foundation is a corporate not-for-profit 501(c)(3), funded by Elsevier, a global information analytics business.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals advance healthcare, open science and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support and professional education, including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 38,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professionals and business customers across industries.

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