EPA software that finds less toxic chemicals will go on the market

EPA software that finds less toxic chemicals will go on the market

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The Environmental Protection Agency and Technical Database Services Inc. of New York joined forces late last month to market an upgraded version of EPA-developed software that finds more environment-friendly solvents, the agency said.

'Our motive: To look for ways you can design solvents that would perform the same way as those that are currently in use but replace them with ones that are more desirable environmentally,' said E. Timothy Oppelt, director of EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory.

The lab has been developing the Program Assisting Replacement of Industrial Solvents for four years. The most recent version'PARIS II'is a Microsoft Windows tool that the laboratory plans to launch next spring.

PARIS I could handle only pure liquid combinations, but its successor will analyze the gamut of chemical mixtures.

Using C++ and Visual Basic, the EPA lab designed the upgraded software under the guidance of Heriberto Cabezas, an EPA chemical engineer in the Sustainable Technology Division who oversees the simulation design team.

A research team from the Pollution Prevention Program at EPA's Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina also contributed to the project.

'We think we can help people who sell solvents find an environmentally better solvent using a technologically efficient method,' Cabezas said. He said the program could produce viable alternatives within hours.

PARIS II also allows the solvent designers to examine properties of various mixtures for the following environmental categories: human toxicity by exposure' dermal, inhalation or ingestion; ecological toxicity; effects of ozone and acidity; and smog ramifications.

Users enter the name of the chemical solvent they wish to replace. Tapping a combination of EPA databases and the Design Institute for Physical Property Database, the program defines all the properties attributed to that solvent.

Users then enter the elements most important to the creation of a new solvent, defining physical properties such as viscosity, vapor pressure, dilution and environmental index. The program analyzes 1,600 chemicals in the combined databases to provide a list of ranked chemical solvent alternatives.

Less smog

'If you are a manufacturer in California, the ozone factor would be very important to you. So then you would want to find an alternative which would reduce the environmental impact of that solvent,' Oppelt said.

Oppelt and Cabezas said the software program also might be useful to chemical engineers in the Defense and Energy departments. But it is mainly designed for industrial chemical solvent manufacturers.

The cooperative agreement, which entails no fee for TDS' services, will help the EPA develop the software commercially.

'We can develop the technology and the inner workings, but as far as making it easier to use commercially, those are things we in the government don't do very well,' Oppelt said. ''

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