rogers
  • 218 AIME/3006D Shelby Hall
  • (205) 348-4323, 348-5011
  • (205) 348-0823
Robin D. Rogers
Professor / Robert Ramsay Professor / Distinguished University Research Professor, Director of the Center for Green Manufacturing
Education: Undergraduate Degree

B.S., 1978, The University of Alabama

Education: Doctoral Degree

Ph.D., 1982, The University of Alabama

Research Interests

Green chemistry, separation science, ionic liquids, x-ray diffraction & crystal engineering. Utilizing ionic liquids and green chemistry for sustainable technology through innovation.

Major thrusts include the following:

  • Materials: Advanced polymeric and composite materials from biorenewables
  • Separations: Novel strategies for separation and purification of value added products from biomass
  • Energy: New lubricant technologies and selective separations
  • Medicine: Elimination of waste while delivering improved pharmaceutical performance.

Is a “Green” Industrial Revolution in Our Future?

Every major new “industrial revolution” (e.g., as we may now face with nanotechnology) will require a focus on environmental impact and sustainability. Green chemistry and engineering focus on the design, development, and implementation of chemical processes and products that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances in a way that is both feasible and economically viable leading to new business opportunities.

Regulation imposed solutions to environmental load tend to be ‘end of pipe’ fixes, rather than producing a shift in focus to new technologies that make less of an environmental footprint. Innovations in green chemistry and engineering have been successfully implemented in a number of businesses and illustrate that this can be done. Examples of these successes can be found in the nominees and winners of the annual US Presidential Green Challenge awards. However, at present, these companies represent only a tiny minority of businesses.

The growing social pressure for new green/sustainable technologies and the promise of “green chemistry” to deliver such, has led to an unusual situation: high industrial interest in green technologies, but no technology base to draw from, few knowledgeable scientists and engineers to provide know-how, and only nascent interest from the academic community. Green technology applications are thus hampered by lack of fundamental data, inadequate research direction, fragmentation of effort, and insufficient industrial direction to drive the academic R&D programs. Despite this, commercial interest remains high with dozens of companies starting green R&D projects.

In order to provide the infrastructure, education, personnel, and technological support to develop and nurture a new, invigorated chemical industry that can provide a global lead in innovative, forward looking, and sustainable new technologies, grass-roots initiatives are needed in order to train personnel to think in terms of the new sustainable paradigm, rather than in the old, non-renewable ways. There is an immense value to be gained through providing an open access to technologies, ideas and innovation through university centers that can provide training, development, personnel and nurture the development of new technologies through idea to demonstration without the short-term immediate commercial restrictions of business.

Green Chemistry and Sustainable Technology Through Innovation

If sustainable development is to be achieved, universities must embrace the true spectrum of science from fundamental understanding to technological development. The argument for this is actually quite old as illustrated with the following quote:

“There does not exist a category to which one can give the name applied science. There are science and the application of science, bound together as the fruit to the tree which bears it.” Louis Pasteur, 1871 (translated from Review Scientifiqus)

Nonetheless, universities have often resisted the growth and harvesting of the fruit. Green Chemistry provides an opportunity for universities to conduct high quality fundamental research and take advantage of the technological importance of these efforts.

Non-regulatory research and development approaches to cleaner, sustainable chemical products and processes will lead to new, innovative technologies which will be the basis of economic growth through new businesses, jobs, and a trained technical workforce. Our universities can and should lead these efforts through innovation that can produce and support innovative and evolutionary, environmentally aware research and development efforts, focused toward developing and sustaining future industrial processes and products based on positive environmental and economic advances, rather than imposed regulatory and statutory limits on process practice.

Sustainability Themes

  • Materials: New advanced polymeric and composite materials from biorenewable polymers such as cellulose are accessible through technologies under current development at The University of Alabama.
  • Separations: We will develop novel strategies for separation and purification of value added products from biomass, thus reducing energy usage and cost and improving economic viability.
  • Energy: This is an overarching theme to be considered in all aspects of our work. For example, selective separations could improve the energy efficiency of biomass conversion technologies.
  • Medicine: Pharmaceuticals are currently manufactured in extensive synthetic procedures involving usage of large quantities of solvents and chemicals which end up as waste. Much of the chemical waste is derived from attempts to “improve” the pharmaceutical properties (e.g., solubility or bioavailability) or reduce the occurrence of polymorphism. Our program in Green Chemistry aims to eliminate much of this waste while at the same time delivering improved pharmaceutical performance.
Representative Publications

Barber, P. S.; Griggs, C. S.; Gurau, G.; Liu, Z.; Li, S.; Li, Z.; Lu, X.; Zhang, S.; Rogers, R. D. “Coagulation of chitin and cellulose from 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ionic-liquid solutions using carbon dioxide.” Angew Chem. Int. Ed. 2013.

Barber, P. S.; Griggs, C. S.; Bonner, J. R.; Rogers, R. D. “Electrospinning of chitin nanofibers directly from an ionic liquid extract of shrimp shellsGreen Chem. 2013, 15, 601‑607.

Cojocaru, O. A.; Shamshina, J. L.; Gurau, G.; Syguda, A.; Praczyk, T.; Pernak, J.; Rogers, R. D. “Ionic liquid forms of the herbicide dicamba with increased efficacy and reduced volatilityGreen Chem. 2013, 15, 2110‑2120.

Shamshina, J.; Barber, P.; Rogers, R. “Ionic Liquids in Drug DeliveryExpert Opin. Drug Discov. 2013, 10, 1367-1381.

Kelley, S. P.; Narita, A. N.; Holbrey, J. D.; Green, K. D.; Reichert, W.  M.; Rogers, R. D. “Understanding the Effects of Ionicity in Salts, Solvates, Co-Crystals, Ionic Co-Crystals, and Ionic Liquids, Rather than Nomenclature, Is Critical to Understanding Their BehaviorCryst. Growth. Des. 2013, 13, 965‑975.

McCrary, P. D.; Beasley, P. A.; Cojocaru, O. A.; Schneider, S.; Hawkins, T. W.; Perez, J. P. L.; McMahon, B. W.; Pfeil, M.; Boatz, J. A.; Anderson, S. L.; Son, S. F.; Rogers,R. D. “Hypergolic ionic liquids to mill, suspend, and ignite boron nanoparticles,” Chem. Commun. 2012, 48, 4311-4313.

Barber, P. S.; Kelley, S. P.; Rogers, R. D. “Highly selective extraction of the uranyl ion with hydrophobic amidoxime-functionalized ionic liquids via η2-coordinationRSC Adv. 2012, 22, 8526‑8530.

Wang, H.; Gurau, G.; Rogers, R. D. “Ionic liquid processing of celluloseChem. Soc. Rev. 2012, 41, 1519–1537.

Rogers, R. D.; Daly, D.T.; Riisager, A.; Fehrmann, A.; Rodriguez, H.; Bica, K.; Gurau, G. “Biologically active compounds supported on solid carrier such as silica for controlled release and improved thermal stability” PCT Int. Appl. 2011, WO 2011110662 A1 20110915.

Gurau, G.; Rodriguez, H.; Kelley, S. P.; Janiczek, P.; Kalb, R. S.; Rogers, R. D. “Demonstration of chemisorption of carbon dioxide in 1,3-dialkylimidazolium acetate ionic liquids.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2011, 50, 11421‑11424.