Chemically Cleaning Up Oil Waste

Gaylord Chemical Company LLC

3. Good Health and Well-Being 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 15. Life on Land

Overview

The process of refining oil produces waste in the form of sulfur. Normally this sulfur is left in large deposits around the world, polluting the landscape. Fortunately, this sulfur can be converted to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and has the potential to benefit our society. Gaylord Chemical's innovative application and process of creating dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) allow it to be used in a wide range of medical and chemical applications. By reducing the amount of sulfur waste that would otherwise end up in mounds, Gaylord Chemicals is increasing the area of habitable land. The company supports responsible production and consumption while it works towards improving the overall well-being of humanity.

Author

Louis Richardson

Louis Richardson

School

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Professor

Nancy Landrum

Nancy Landrum

Innovation

Gaylord Chemical produces two chemicals: dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). The company's noteworthy innovation is its method of safe processing and application development for these two products—Gaylord Chemical sources sulfur in the form of acid gas or hydrogen sulfide. The sulfur is used as an ingredient to produce DMSO from the waste left behind when processing oil. Acid gas normally gets converted to elemental sulfur by an energy-intensive process called the Claus Process. Not many people understand just how much physical waste is produced by this process, and the pollution leaked into the atmosphere as a result of it. Specifically, Gaylord Chemical acquires sulfur that would otherwise end up in “sulfur mountains” located around the world. By acquiring sulfur in the form of acid gas before it can be dumped, Gaylord Chemical reduces the amount of landfill space needed to store this waste. The company is providing a solution for the management of waste that is a byproduct of processing oil. By utilizing this waste, the company is carrying out the mission of UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land by diverting waste and creating more habitable space for "Life on Land."

Gaylord Chemical's process to produce DMSO has no environmentally harmful effects. Making use of byproducts from another chemical process demonstrates the organization's commitment to responsible sourcing and production. The company also reduces the total nitrogen discharge from this process, which could be harmful to the environment using a biological water treatment that employs bacteria to eat the nitrogen discharge. In the future, the company expects to convert this excess nitrogen into fertilizer.

Gaylord Chemical also monitors customer use of its products and makes sure that each product it sells is scientifically proven to be safe for use. The company has notably taken a firm stance against DMSO's use as a miracle cancer treatment because Gaylord Chemical has not found significant scientific evidence to support this treatment. By monitoring applications of DMSO, Gaylord Chemical supports Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

DMSO has numerous medical applications, and Gaylord Chemical takes pride in its contributions to scientific advancement. Gaylord Chemical has proven that DMSO is safe to be used as a substitute for certain toxic and carcinogenic solvents used in some medicines. This component of Gaylord Chemical's work supports Sustainable Development Goal 3: Health & Well-Being.

Chemically Cleaning Up Oil Waste

Inspiration

Frank Roederer, CEO of Gaylord Chemicals, is inspired by the growing business opportunities for his company. He saw “huge potential in Gaylord, not only driving growth but also in doing something for the environment and the health of people.” He immediately recognized the value in safe production and proper application of these chemicals. He is passionate about producing products the correct way, for both personal and environmental reasons. His company boasts a nine-year track record of having an accident-free workplace in its labs. He is committed to creating safe products while remaining profitable.

When Frank joined the company, he was impressed that the plant that was “spotlessly clean” had “no releases,” and was “state of the art.” He recognized the value of having an excellent workspace to support the company's innovative work. He is committed to maintaining that level of safety and excellence to promote growth. Gaylord Chemical not only has tremendous potential for growth and profit, but it also allows employees to feel like they are making a difference through their work. When asked about a high point in his tenure with the company, he revealed his future-focused philosophy that there is “no peak.” He explained that “if you think you are good, you stop becoming better.” His forward-looking attitude inspires the employees of Gaylord Chemical to continue innovating to achieve greater societal impact.

Overall impact

Gaylord Chemical's innovative application of its chemicals can best be seen through several of the medical products the company has developed. Remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, is one of its most notable products. Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication developed by Gilead Sciences that uses DMSO as a reaction solvent. This application is significant to Gaylord Chemical. The company wants to ensure that customers like Gilead Sciences continue to have access to safely produced DMSO for important medical innovations. In fact, Gaylord Chemical ensures that any customer who uses DMSO to create antiviral medication receives the product at a discounted rate.

Another important application for DMSO is Pennsaid, a topical treatment for osteoarthritis. This treatment, developed by Gaylord Chemicals, is produced by Nuvo Pharma. Pennsaid uses DMSO to create a permeable region of cell membranes for the active ingredient, Diclofenac, to migrate to the pain's origin.

Outside the medical field, Gaylord Chemical's DMSO is used in paint strippers across the United States in place of toxic solvents to remove paint. DMSO is a safer alternative to hazardous solvents such as methylene chloride and N-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP). The largest producer of commercial paint strippers in the US utilizes Gaylord Chemical's DMSO.

Business benefit

The company's motivation to research further applications of its products benefits the organization in several ways. One such benefit is that Gaylord Chemical opens new markets with each new application it creates. The company's intense research into pharmaceuticals continues to yield new promising uses for DMSO. Each time Gaylord can identify a safer chemical compound that uses DMSO, the company can improve its consumers' wellbeing. The company's growth is tied to improving the well-being of humanity. Employees are attracted to Gaylord Chemicals because they know the company's production methods are safe for them and the world.

Social and environmental benefit

The improved process Gaylord Chemical utilizes to process sulfur has pertinent environmental benefits. The company has refined its chemical process to reduce harm to the environment. While the benefits are hard to measure, it is noteworthy that the company does not produce any harmful gas. If other competitors in this field were to adopt Gaylord Chemical's commitment to clean processes, we could start moving toward a completely sustainable chemical industry. Gaylord's process is proof that other chemical companies can commit to sustainability without sacrificing profit.

Gaylord Chemical's products benefit society by eliminating toxic materials from medicines, paint strippers, and other chemical products. The solutions Gaylord Chemical has developed are a step in the right direction. Redesigning medicine and chemical formulas with fewer toxins are key improvements. This concept of remaking old medicines and chemicals could be the next step forward in the chemical industry. Gaylord Chemical's innovative applications continue to improve chemicals of the past, provide cleaner resources for the present, and provide better, cleaner products for the future.

Interview

Frank Roederer, CEO

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Gaylord Chemical Company LLC

Gaylord Chemical Company LLC

Slidell, Louisiana, US

Business Website: https://www.gaylordchemical.com/

Year Founded: 2007

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Gaylord Chemical is the world's oldest producer of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). The company is an "on-purpose manufacturer" of DMS and DMSO. It focuses on the quality of its products and helping the customers that receive them.