Development of novel PP catalyst earns W.R. Grace researcher Mike Elder 2010 Grace Award for Technical Excellence; research laid foundation for further PP catalyst developments, company says

COLUMBIA, Maryland , October 26, 2011 (press release) – W. R. Grace & Co. (NYSE: GRA) recognized company scientist Mike Elder with the 2010 Grace Award for Technical Excellence for his work to develop a novel polypropylene (PP) catalyst that laid the foundation for further polypropylene catalyst developments.

“We are extremely proud to recognize Mike for his tremendous talent and technical prowess”

Polypropylene is a plastic commonly used in a wide variety of commercial and consumer applications, such as packaging, textiles (e.g., carpets), medical applications and automotive components. Polypropylene is the second most widely used polymer in everyday consumables.

When presented with a customer’s Ziegler-Natta catalyst solution, Mike identified potential issues related to the initial chemistry and reformulated the recipe, thereby improving the efficiency and eliminating the possibility of forming undesirable by-products. He also streamlined the process to make separations and recycling possible.

The ensuing commercial process yielded an improved catalyst that had immediate commercial impact. In 2011, Grace continued expanding its polypropylene catalyst manufacturing capacity through an investment in the company’s Albany, Oregon facility.

“I would not be receiving this award today had it not been for the tireless dedication of the Grace teams in the lab and pilot plant in Columbia, Maryland, at the Grace manufacturing facilities in Edison, New Jersey and Albany, Oregon, and many others who collaborated closely throughout the entire development process,” said Mike Elder.

Mike joined Grace in 2005 in his current role of Senior Principal Scientist for Grace Davison Specialty Catalysts & Process Technologies. Prior to Grace, he spent 12 years as a chemical researcher with LyondellBasell. He holds a Master of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Houston in Texas.

“We are extremely proud to recognize Mike for his tremendous talent and technical prowess,” said George Young, Vice President of New Business Development for Grace Davison. “It is people like Mike and past recipients of the Grace Award for Technical Excellence who keep Grace on the forefront of innovation in our industries.”

Introduced in 2007, the Grace Award for Technical Excellence acknowledges the highest level of technical achievement within the company. Honorees are selected by a committee of peers who evaluate nominations for technical merit; novelty and innovation; commercial impact; and, societal or industrial impact.

Past recipients developed the Synchro® 1000 cement additive that protects the environment through chromium reduction; a “Particle Nucleation and Growth Model” (an effective tool for new product development and process optimization); fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts that reduce the impact of metals during the processing of crude oil; and, the Reveleris® flash chromatography system that integrates light scattering detection with traditional UV-based purification to improve recovery/purity of new drug candidates.

About Grace

Grace is a leading global supplier of catalysts and other products to petroleum refiners; catalysts for the manufacture of plastics; silica-based engineered and specialty materials for a wide range of industrial applications; sealants and coatings for food and beverage packaging, and specialty chemicals, additives and building materials for commercial and residential construction. Founded in 1854, Grace has operations in over 40 countries. For more information, visit Grace’s web site at

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