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Institute for Green Science

Group Members

Terrence J. Collins

Photo of Terry CollinsA champion of green science, Terry Collins has been recognized internationally for his invention of a new class of oxidation catalysts with demonstrated potential for enormous, positive impact on the environment.

Collins invented "TAML Activators", the first full functional mimics of any of the great families of oxidizing enzymes, solving in the process one of the all-time great challenges of reaction chemistry and catalysis. Of particular relevance to sustainability, TAML activators with oxidants such as hydrogen peroxide eliminate from water micropollutants and pathogens with superb technical, environmental and cost performances. TAML activators with peroxide rapidly destroy numerous persistent, toxic pollutants in water, including estrogens and many other endocrine disruptors, active pharmaceutical ingredients, chlorinated phenols, nitroaromatic explosives, pesticides, chemical warfare agents, dyes. These discoveries are underpinning new technologies for treating municipal wastewaters and the effluents of diverse industries. TAML systems also enable new products as commonplace as advanced laundry detergents.

Collins earned his undergraduate and doctor’s degrees from the University of Auckland. He became a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1987. He learned of the insidious health damage caused by chemical pollutants of anthropogenic origin in his native New Zealand. He created an iterative catalyst design program to explore whether he could develop environmentally benign and cost-effective technologies to avoid or destroy the pollutants. After many breakthroughs, Collins and his fellow researchers have achieved both goals and more. Higher efficiency TAML-based oxidation processes can now be used to avoid and eliminate pollutants and pathogens in water by mimicking closely the chemistry of human oxidative metabolism. And there are obviously many application areas still to be discovered.

Among his honors are the 2010 Heinz Award for the Environment, the inaugural Charles E. Kaufman Award of the Pittsburgh Foundation, the 2007 Award of The New York Metropolitan Catalysis Society, the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1999 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, the Pittsburgh Award from the American Chemical Society and Japan’s Society of Pure and Applied Coordination Chemistry Award, and many others. Collins is an honorary professor and a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (Hon), the American Chemical Society and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and he has been a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar.

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