RightfitTM Organic pigments received a Presidential Green Chemistry award in 2004. The 2011 awards will be given this week at the 15th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.
In the 1700’s and 1800’s, the fledgling field of chemistry had a significant impact on fine art through the synthesis of new compounds, many of which had vibrant colors appropriate for pigments and dyes. The number of hues in the artist’s palette doubled, and the Impressionists, in particular, exploited this new riot of colors. Unfortunately, the more mature field of chemistry in the 20th century identified that the brilliant yellow, orange, and red pigments based on compounds of lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium were toxic. Organic pigments replaced these metal-based colorants, but they tended to be more expensive and to involve organic solvents and other undesirable substances in their production.
It is a tribute to the responsibility felt by chemists to make the world a safer and less hazardous place that the Engelhard Corporation, now BASF Corporation, set out to design replacement pigments possessing drastically reduced toxicity and made by a more environmentally benign process. For their RightfitTM pigments, the Engelhard Corporation received the Designing Greener Chemicals Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2004. (http://www.epa.gov/gcc/pubs/pgcc/winners/dgca04.html)
Rightfit pigments possess superior color strength so less pigment is required to achieve a desired color. Unlike their toxic counterparts, whose colors range only from yellow to red, Rightfit pigments offer a broader spectrum into purple shades as well, and the compatibility between the pigments allows for more subtle variations of hue. As these pigments have a low toxicity, they have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Health Protection Branch (HPB) for applications involving indirect contact with food.