Milton Hearn

Emeritus Prof

1980 …2019
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Biography

Green infusion creates new future for chemistry

Professor Milton Hearn and his team at the Centre for Green Chemistry have developed a new process to extract natural resveratrol from grape waste, rather than manufacturing it from a petro-chemical base. Resveratrol is a natural phenol found in the skin of red grapes and in an increasing number of processed foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. It is sought for its potential anti-ageing and health promoting effects.



Milton says the new extraction process adds value to what is otherwise agricultural waste. Chemically, it uses a biological process to replace a less efficient synthetic process that produces significant waste of its own. The result of the research is more resveratrol to go around and better environmental outcomes.

The new process uses recyclable polymers to attract and capture the resveratrol from grape skin residues, and waste from the process itself is minimal. It has the potential to generate commercial quantities of resveratrol, making it more readily available for research, and for incorporation into new products. The process can also be adapted to extract other biological phenols, and this is the aim of ongoing research at the Centre.

Milton says all these elements are an important part of the philosophy underpinning the green chemistry approach, which aims to be 'benign by design'.

When he first became director of the Centre for Green Chemistry in 2002 the term 'green chemistry' related largely to synthetic organic chemistry. Since then he has been instrumental in expanding the concept at both a national and international level, to incorporate what he calls 'bio-inspired chemistry'.

As a biochemist, Milton believes taking advantage of existing biological processes often proves a smarter and more cost-effective approach than synthetically reproducing naturally produced chemicals.

He says green chemistry will have an essential role in reducing the environmental and social impacts of the chemical industry. Of the 80,000 or so industrial chemicals used commercially, more than 90 per cent are produced from fossil fuels. In a carbon-aware economy this will have to change. The extraction of biologically produced resveratrol as an alternative to the synthesised product is a small beginning.

Numerous chemical manufacturing processes also generate significant quantities of waste, some of it toxic. In some cases up to 1000 times more waste is generated than usable product. Milton says this is also no longer socially acceptable and that many leading chemical manufacturers are undertaking whole life cycle assessments of their production processes and chemical use. Breaking down their production processes allows these businesses to identify areas where green chemistry can make a difference.

Projects are conducted using flexible, multi-disciplinary teams in much the same way that industry research teams operate. Milton says being able to understand chemistry within a context wider than just the chemistry itself is an essential part of the green approach.

The Centre's Australian Research Council funding is soon to end, but Milton is confident its next incarnation will provide even stronger links with industry. Monash and the Federal Government are funding a new $78 million purpose-built research centre at Clayton as part of the Green Chemical Futures initiative Milton leads. The new facility will create new opportunities for research, training and collaboration and will improve the capacity of the Australian chemical industry to respond to the challenges of the future.

Milton insists that the Centre's research is undertaken with practical outcomes in mind.

'Not all our projects are driven by meeting industry needs. But in my view progress in science is only achieved when you can identify the real benefits.'

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2000 2018

Research Output 1980 2019

Light-Switchable Self-Healing Dynamic Linear Polymers: Reversible Cycloaddition Reactions of Thymine-Containing Units

Abdallh, M., He, P., Hearn, M. T. W., Simon, G. P. & Saito, K., 1 Jan 2019, In : ChemPlusChem. 84, 4, p. 333 - 337 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Photoreversible Smart Polymers Based on 2π + 2π Cycloaddition Reactions: Nanofilms to Self-Healing Films

Abdallh, M., Yoshikawa, C., Hearn, M. T. W., Simon, G. P. & Saito, K., 1 Jan 2019, In : Macromolecules. 52, 6, p. 2446−2455 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Studies on the Extraction of Several Polyphenols with Different Silica Hydride Stationary Phases

Kulsing, C., Nolvachai, Y., Boysen, R. I., Matyska, M. T., Pesek, J. J., Marriott, P. J. & Hearn, M. T. W., 1 Jan 2019, In : Chromatographia. 82, 6, p. 943-951 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Stimuli-responsive polymeric materials for separation of biomolecules

Tan, S., Saito, K. & Hearn, M. TW., 1 Oct 2018, In : Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 53, p. 209-223 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

Prizes

Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Award

Milton Hearn (Recipient), 1984

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Alexander von Humboldt Forschungspreis

Milton Hearn (Recipient), 1994

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Analytical Chemistry Medal

Milton Hearn (Recipient), 2005

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Applied Research Medal

Milton Hearn (Recipient), 2003

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Centennial Medal of the Commonwealth of Australia

Milton Hearn (Recipient), 2001

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Activities 1969 2013

  • 13 External research organisation, centre or institute

Distinguished Research Professorial Fellow

Milton Hearn (Visitor)
1 Jun 2013

Activity: External Academic EngagementExternal research organisation, centre or institute

Fellow

Milton Hearn (Visitor)
1 Oct 2010

Activity: External Academic EngagementExternal research organisation, centre or institute

Fellow

Milton Hearn (Visitor)
1 Jan 2004

Activity: External Academic EngagementExternal research organisation, centre or institute

Fellow

Milton Hearn (Visitor)
1 Oct 1990

Activity: External Academic EngagementExternal research organisation, centre or institute

Fellow

Milton Hearn (Visitor)
12 Oct 1985

Activity: External Academic EngagementExternal research organisation, centre or institute