Grant Projects Awarded in 2022
TURI awarded $137,500 in grants to reduce the use of PFAS in manufacturing and firefighting gear; solvents in manufacturing and furniture refurbishing; and flame retardants in gym pit cubes. TURI awarded grants to:
Boyd (formerly Lytron) of Woburn manufactures thermal management and liquid cooling products, used by a industrial electronics, medical, military, aerospace, and semiconductor companies. Boyd successfully removed TCE from one of their cleaning processes in their facility in 2018 after working with TURI Lab, thereby reducing costs, improving efficiency, and reducing health risks to employees. With this grant Boyd continued their effort to eliminate their use of TCE by replacing the last remaining solvent cleaning system with a new aqueous system.
Southbridge Sheet Metal Works, Inc. of Sturbridge manufactures sheet metal products including enclosures and large structural frames. Their operations include layout, cutting, forming, milling, welding, painting, assembling, and shipping. The goal for Southbridge was to replace a vapor degreaser, which used 7,000 to 10,000 pounds of methylene chloride, to clean parts prior to painting with a safer, more environmentally friendly solution. The project modified the existing tank to add ultrasonics transducers, and switched to a safer aqueous cleaner.
Vishay Barry of Attleboro manufactures semiconductor packaging and resistive components including terminations, resistors and attenuators. An ISO9001 certified, ITAR registered company, Vishay Barry is an approved supplier to the leading manufacturers of military, commercial, aerospace, medical and fiber-optic devices. Vishay Barry's goal was to eliminate the use of solvent-based vapor degreasing technology from all onsite manufacturing. As part of this change included purchasing new (to Vishay Barry) aqueous cleaning equipment and water-soluble cleaning chemicals. The equipment will include ultrasonic baths, vacuum drying units and water-based pump parts washers.
Conklin Office Furniture of Holyoke is a small business focused on providing sustainable office furnishings by recycling and refurbishing used office furniture. They received a 2022 TURI Small Business Grant to examine their use of products that contain toxic solvents as part of their ongoing work to implement an environmental management system. The project is focused on finding safer options for their use of spray adhesives and paint/stain cleaners and thinners, which traditionally contain methylene chloride and toluene, respectively. The TURI team was joined by OTA staff to help Conklin discover opportunities for toxics use reduction.
Donoma Gymnastics of Stow provides gymnastics classes (and hosts a competitive gymnastics team), open play for families and children, birthday parties and full- and half-day camps at its facility. This project is focused on replacing up to 10,000 foam gym pit cubes that contain flame retardants with cubes without flame retardants, to make their gym a safer space for children and their families.
Professor Ramaswamy Nagarajan, Department of Plastics Engineering at UMass Lowell continues his research with Transene Company of Danvers to research safer chemicals to replace per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) surfactants used in etching solutions for semiconductor manufacturing. The research team will study the compatibility, stability, and performance of safer non-PFAS alternative surfactants. The research team intends to expand on the success of this project by working with another Massachusetts facility currently using PFAS for other product applications.
Associate Professor Hsi-Wu Wong, Department of Chemical Engineering at UMass Lowell Lowell identified and evaluated safer, effective solvents in collaboration with Johnson Matthey, a manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates at its facilities in North Andover and Devens. The safer alternatives could replace methylene chloride, a toxic chemical used in the company’s manufacturing processes. This project is a continuation of the previous research using thin layer chromatography conducted by Assistant Professor Grace Chen of the Plastics Engineering Department. The goal of this year’s research is to further evaluate the effectiveness of the identified safer alternative solvent blends for column chromatography and scale up from lab to commercial production levels.
The Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts (PFFM) District 8 Vice President Jason Burns of Fall River and Deputy Chief Sean Mitchell of Nantucket, in collaboration with the Nantucket PFAS Action Group and Courtney Carignan, lead investigator at Michigan State University, are continuing their work to replace firefighter gear containing PFAS, study the impacts of this replacement, and educate firefighters on PFAS and safer alternatives. PFAS, which is used in firefighting protective gear to repel oil and water, can shed from the gear, leading to human and environmental exposure. The project team will share information with firefighters, fire marshals, unions, and cancer prevention groups in Massachusetts by creating fact sheets and providing targeted training.