ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — April 12, 2019 — Gevo Inc. announced that Patrick Gruber has been named the recipient of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) Henry E. Millson award for invention for the development of a green chemistry-based continuous process for producing polylactic acid fibers known as PLA — a fiber that is derived from renewable crops, is compostable and has a life cycle that potentially reduces the Earth’s carbon dioxide level. The Millson award recognizes inventions that are outstanding contributions to textile technology.
Gruber is CEO and board member at Gevo, specializing in converting carbohydrates into low carbon chemicals and fuels, lessening reliance on petrochemical sources. He began his career at Cargill in 1988 as technology manager in search of new business opportunities involving renewable resource-based products as raw materials. He served as technical director of Cargill’s bioscience division from 1998 to 1999. In 1997, he co-founded NatureWorks and served as vice president of technology and operations and chief technology officer until 2005.
Chemical giants had spent decades trying to find a renewable and environmentally safe raw material to make into plastic. Until Gruber’s discovery in 1989, no one had discovered out how to make PLA from plant starches with the right properties and inexpensively enough for large scale production. A new fermentation and distillation process enabled cheaper purification, better optical composition control, and significant yield increases over existing practice. The patented process enabled a single plant, using a flexible manufacturing system, to produce different PLA grades for multiple markets at low cost while adhering to environmentally sound practices.
Dr. Gruber stated: “I am extremely privileged, and grateful receiving this award from the AATCC. I thank Cargill who sponsored the development, and all of the excellent people with whom I worked. I didn’t do it alone. Cargill taught us to strive for “making the world a better place for every inhabitant on earth”. I’m lucky to have been able to have a career where we try to do just that, through sustainable products that reduce fossil carbon emissions and reduce pollution. Thank you.”
Dr. Gruber received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Minnesota. He also earned an M.S. in business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
AATCC named the Millson award for invention for Henry E. Millson, a noted inventor who was head of dyes research for American Cyanamid. Millson, the 1958 recipient of AATCC’s Olney Medal for outstanding achievement in textile chemistry, endowed the award in 1979 with the stipulation that he never be considered a candidate.
Posted April 12, 2019
Source: Gevo, Inc.