Mechanochemistry reduces the waste associated with solvent-based chemistry, as Joel describes, “When you heat a solvent, it is essentially waste. All you really want to heat is the molecules that are reacting together. If you take out the solvent, you are reducing 95% of the mass you had to heat before and you have removed all of these molecular barriers that are sitting between reactants.” Joel concludes, “What we typically observe, if a reaction takes 100 degrees in solution, it might take us 60 degrees.” Lowering the temperature at which a reaction occurs unlocks many new possibilities in chemistry that were previously undoable because of the cost associated with heating a solvent. Mechanochemistry is cheaper to conduct, safer for chemists, and more green-minded than conventional chemistry.
Grant refers to Joel as a “perfect example” of a student they like to see at 1819; Joel was skeptical of the Venture Lab at first, unsure of how a startup accelerator could help a chemist, but he had a great idea backed by extensive research and a willingness to take risks. Joel was recently awarded a $110,000 grant from the 1819 Innovation Hub to further his research and take his invention to the industry.