Chemist funded for work with silicone

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Chemist funded for work with silicone

Published on August 11 2010


A Brock chemist is part of an announcement this week that will see $90,000 devoted to green chemistry research.
Paul Zelisko will receive $30,000 from GreenCentre Canada to develop green chemical agents for curing silicone polymers — well-known synthetic materials used in everything from cooking utensils to breast implants. Paul Hayes from the University of Lethbridge and David Zechel from Queen’s University will also receive funding.
The projects “are excellent examples of how green chemistry can benefit both the environment and the bottom line,” said Rui Resendes, executive director of GreenCentre Canada, in a media release Tuesday.
Zelisko has discovered natural enzyme systems that can be used as silicone cross-linkers – chemical agents that link polymer chains in silicone. These chemical chains produce the desired degree of solidity needed for specific applications, from the softness of a breast implant to the strength of cooking utensils. Normally this cross-linking is effected through metal-based catalysts containing tin (which is toxic) or platinum (which is scarce). The funding will enable Zelisko to improve the effectiveness of these natural enzymes such that they can effectively compete with existing, metal-based catalysts. 

Paul Zelisko head shot

Paul Zeliskso is an instructor in the Department of Chemistry