Innovations: Supercharging Protein Manufacture; January 2004; Scientific American Magazine; by Gary Stix; 2 Page(s)
Tillman U. Gerngross came to Dartmouth College in the late 1990s as a tenure-track professor who wanted to study "green" plastics derived from plant-derived sugars. His first major project centered on performing an analysis of the costs and benefits of these supposed materials of the future.
In 1999 he published a paper in Nature Biotechnology that detailed the results of a life-cycle analysis of bioplastics manufacturing. It showed that making these purportedly eco-friendly products required more fossil fuels than fabricating petroleum-based plastics. "We have spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars developing these technologies to make green polymers. And at the end of the day, the net impact is going to be marginal," Gerngross says [see "How Green Are Green Plastics?" by Tillman U. Gerngross and Steven C. Slater; Scientific American, August 2000].