Behind every successful green technology product is a host of innovators bringing together the pieces to make an electric car or solar water heater in the home more efficient. Many of these innovators, if not working for the company building the green product or service, often have small operations of their own which work diligently on building the better eco mouse trap. SiGNa Chemistry could easily be one of those.
SiGNa Chemistry turned up on the green tech radar last year with a portable fuel cell system designed to work with an electric bike. The company, which in 2008 garnered a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award “for innovations in green chemistry materials based on the company’s proprietary technology for nano-scale encapsulation of reactive metal materials,” continues to quietly tinker away on a platform it feels could have a wide array of applications for cleaner fuels. We recently interviewed Michael Lefenfeld, SiGNa’s president and CEO, to learn more about the company.
EarthTechling (ET): What is the story behind Signa Chemistry? What inspired its formation?
Michael Lefenfeld: I spent many years working with reactive alkali metals and experienced first hand how dangerous these products could be, not only in the chemical process but through their by-products. I saw an opening to fill a need; to create safe, scalable reactive metals. This was the birth of SiGNa Chemistry. I knew from the start that the potential applications for safe reactive metals was limitless and could impact a number of industry’s from consumer electronics and pharmaceuticals to petrochemicals, fine/specialty chemicals, even environmental remediation.
In fact, in 2005, we saw a need in the hydrogen space, in terms of generation, specifically a way to solve the storage problem. Using sodium silicide, a safe non-combustible powder, we were able to develop a power solution that produced clean hydrogen on demand.
ET: What exactly is “green” chemistry mean to you?
Lefenfeld: We never set out to necessarily create “green” chemistry, but in order to be a successful scientist it is necessary that the chemistry you create is efficient, environmentally-friendly and sustainable. This should be the foundation that every chemist builds off of and when you do that your product is destined to be “green.”