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Around the Bend

What's going on at Rivertop Renewables

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Around the Bend Blog

Mountains, water, fresh air, room to move. Just a few of the reasons we feel lucky to be headquartered in beautiful Missoula, Montana. This blog is where we keep track of things going on in and around Rivertop.

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Rivertop’s Sodium Glucarate Meets EPA Criteria for Safer Chemicals

Today Rivertop is making an exciting announcement: sodium glucarate produced through the Rivertop process has been officially listed on the EPA’s Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL).

Being on the SCIL list means that the EPA has determined that our sodium glucarate is safer than traditional chemical ingredients, and can now be used in products with the EPA’s Safer Choice label.

Rivertop’s sodium glucarate is also the first chemical with corrosion inhibiting properties to secure full approval for the SCIL.

To qualify for the list, a product or chemical ingredient has to meet a series of stringent human and environmental health criteria—criteria that we here at Rivertop passed with flying colors. Continue reading “Rivertop’s Sodium Glucarate Meets EPA Criteria for Safer Chemicals”

An Adventure like No Other!

Ross Campbell, Rivertop’s Supply Chain and Quality Leader, and his daughter, Kristina, recently returned from an 18-day African Safari. The impetus for the expedition was Kristina’s college course on South African Culture and Historical Study, as well as a biological study of South African Animals. In order to participate, Ross, who intended to “chaperone” the trip, had to become a Buena Vista University student for 3 weeks to satisfy insurance requirements. 30 years after his first college graduation, Ross is a freshly minted alumnus once again!

Overflowing with fascinating cultures, a jaw-dropping array of species and tangerine-colored sunsets melting, Ross took over 11,000 photos on this 18-day adventure. Here are a few favorites:

980x-3“The elephants were some of the crankiest animals, so you learned to keep an eye out for them and be aware if they were heading to cross a road – you never wanted to be in their way. If you remained aware, you would be fine. This one, nicknamed one of the ‘Bash Brothers,’ seemed to pose for the camera.”

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Which animal was Ross’ favoriteLion spotting. Hands down. Luckily, all of his encounters were at a safe distance. The other two vans managed to come across lions right alongside their vehicle during the day. Playing with the lion cubs on the final day definitely made up for that though!

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“The leopard, only 6 feet away, was amazing to photograph – but you were very conscious of the fact that the window was down and he was aware of everything. Fortunately, he gave us 15 seconds of photo time and then very non-aggressively just stood up, turned around and wandered 20 feet further into the jungle and sat back down”.

“You quickly learned to be as quiet as possible when encountering the animals. Rhinos have poor eyesight, but great hearing. If you sit quietly, you can both enjoy the moment. If they hear you, they get nervous and anxious – a bad combination for a large animal with a three-foot horn and a few thousand pounds behind it.”

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When asked about his favorite experience of the trip, Ross (unsurprisingly) had trouble choosing, but eventually settled on their visit to a local school:

“The Nsukazi school was amazing and humbling. School is mandatory in South Africa and is where most children get their only meal of the day. The schools look like fortresses – walled, fenced with razor-wire and guard shacks to protect their little equipment and supplies – and yet the teachers are so dedicated and the students so happy. It was such an honor and privilege to interact with them and watch them pose and smile and sing and dance for us”.

Will Ross ever be going to Africa again?

“They do warn you that no matter how much protective clothing, nets or insecticide you use, very few people ever escape an African trip without at least one bite. The most virulent and common bite comes from an amazingly successful African bug – the come-back bug. I think I feel an itch…”

Tyler Smith Profiled by Missoulian

Earlier this month, the Missoulian ran a feature on Rivertop’s own Tyler Smith, Vice President of Research and Development here in Missoula. The piece, appropriately published on Father’s Day, highlights both the fantastic work that Tyler has done for us here at Rivertop as well as his unexpected struggle with cancer last year.

Tyler has been with us since our very inception. Born and bred a southerner, Tyler happened upon Missoula while on a road trip to Oregon and has not been able to pry himself away since. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry in 2008 and promptly began helping Rivertop build competitive green chemicals. Tyler’s role and the work that he does are essential to our work here at Rivertop—R&D is of utmost importance for a green chemicals company, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of our employees are research scientists.

Tyler opens up about his cancer diagnosis and treatment in the Missoulian story, discussing how his time bonding with other cancer patients in the hospital will always stay with him and how touching it was to be asked to be the guest speaker at last year’s Relay for Life event in Missoula.

July 7th of this year will mark the one-year anniversary of Tyler being in remission. The journey has been a long and arduous one for Tyler, his wife and three kids. We here at Rivertop are grateful to have him back on his feet and in the lab. We are honored to have him on our team and are excited to see the great things he does in the green chemistry world in the years to come.

Founder Don Kiely Performs the Blues and Sings Rivertop’s Praises!

Yesterday our founder Don Kiely performed some blues and swing tunes for fellow Rivertopians at the Sound, Soup and Sanctuary experience. The event, which took place at the University Congregational Church (UCC), adjacent to the University of Montana campus, was part of a music performance series that is free and open to the public. Don played harmonica on classics such as It Had To Be You, Misty, andFly Me to the Moon and added vocals on Mojo Man and Old Time Boogie. He certainly had everyone’s feet tapping.

Just a few hours later, Don spoke at InnovativeUM. The event, put on by the University, connects the community to leading University of Montana faculty members, alumni and national collaborators through dynamic, big-idea talks, living room conversations, a tech expo, art and food. In short, it is a celebration of innovation and a catalyst for collaboration.

At the event, Don was asked to tell his story and that of Rivertop (the technology we use was actually developed by Don in a lab at the University of Montana). He jokingly explained: “Somehow they got my name, ignored the age requirement for entrepreneurs, and asked me to participate.” And the rest is Rivertop history.

It was truly an eventful and noteworthy day. We here at Rivertop really value the connection that we still maintain with the University and are excited to have great events and great spokespeople (wielding harmonicas) to reaffirm it.

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