Putting a green shine on chemical production

The Straits Times by JOSE HONG

Professor Loh Teck Peng, who won the President's Science Award, helped to cement Singapore's position as a leader in the field of chemistry by pushing the frontiers of green chemistry.

Prof Loh, from the Nanyang Technological University's School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, created dozens of innovative methods of producing organic compounds over the past 20 years.

"Organic chemistry is the study of carbon-based compounds. Many of the products that we use in our daily life are organic compounds. Some examples are shampoo, nylon, medicines, agrochemicals and display screens," said the 56-year-old permanent resident from Malaysia.

"The ability to design and construct new chemical entities is the backbone of many technologies."

Prof Loh said many companies did not focus on making processes environmentally friendly. So, in the 1990s, when he returned to Singapore from the United States, he decided to step in.

"I hope the day will come when important compounds... are produced in a clean and safe manner. No waste produced, no air and water pollution, and no fire or explosions," he said.