Experimental Materials: Integrating Green Chemistry in Product Design
Director, Product Design Program & Principal, Green Product Design Network
University of Oregon
In sustainability discussions, plastics tend to be demonized for toxicity and resource depletion issues. However, they do solve very difficult sustainability problems of weight and compatibility with other materials. To help clarify this dichotomy in sustainable polymer use, our Experimental Materials course is being used to understand and explain these issues. Through support from the Green Product Design Network (GPDN), a consortium at UO connecting product design with green chemistry, sustainable business practices and communications, this class has brought in laboratory chemists as part of the design experience. This paper presents two dramatically different pilot courses in Experimental Materials, highlighting the differences found from easily procured to atypical materials, from normal to guerilla-kitchen production methods, and from explaining sustainability to the local television station to explaining sustainability to a panel of chemists. The successes have been surprising and not measured equally by chemists and designers alike.