Stillwater’s XploSafe wins EPA ‘Green Chemistry’ award

XploSafe screen

I saw a bit of news this week that took me back more than a decade. A Stillwater-based company called XploSafe has been named 2021 winner of the EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

That’s a big deal because there are more than 1,800 nominations for this award, and XploSafe is the only winner in the Small Business category.

XploSafe was named a Green Chemistry Challenge winner for the capabilities of its invention called PhosRox™, a novel sorbent for the removal of phosphorus and nitrogen from water. The compound reduces pollution and also results in a material that can be used as a timed release fertilizer.

A win-win for everyone.

Anyway, it’s been more than 10 years since I first learned about XploSafe. Actually, I’m not sure it had yet been launched as a startup when XploSafe co-founder Shoaib Shaikh pitched the concept in what was then the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition.

If you’re not familiar, the Governor’s Cup – now called the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup – it is a statewide collegiate business plan competition in which teams pitch real life concepts with $150,000 in cash and scholarships on the line. It is managed by i2E, Inc.

The XploSafe concept was pitched by Shaikh, then an Oklahoma State University student, as a technology to detect explosives with a vision to protect soldiers, airports and other situations.  It was based on a chemical compound developed in the laboratory of Dr. Allen Apblett, an OSU chemistry professor.

XploSafe1Today, Shaikh is the company’s CEO and chief financial officer while Apblett is president and senior analytical chemist.

Over the past decade, the company has expanded its capabilities, and today markets products for air monitoring, chemical safety, bomb squads, first responders, transport security and HAZMAT teams.

My friends at XploSafe sent me their news release on the award, which I’m happy to include in its entirety at the bottom of this post.

Here is a link to an article I wrote about XploSafe on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) in 2018 and published in The Oklahoman. 

Below is the text of the XploSafe news release. Congratulations, XploSafe!

XploSafe Wins 2021 EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Award

Stillwater, OK – 15 June 2021 – XploSafe announced today that it has been awarded the coveted EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Award in the Small Business Category, recognizing a groundbreaking scientific contribution in the green chemistry field for their invention, PhosRox™.

PhosRox™, a novel sorbent for the removal of phosphorus and nitrogen from water, helps to reduce the effects of nutrient pollution and eutrophication on aquatic ecosystems. The PhosRox™ material can then be reused as a time-delay fertilizer for plants and crops once it has been saturated with nutrients.

The annual award, present by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with the American Chemical Society (ACS) is “the nation’s most prestigious award program for green chemistry innovations,” says Mary Kirchhoff, Ph.D., director of ACS Green Chemistry Institute and executive vice president of Scientific Advancement at ACS.

Shoaib Shaikh, Co-Founder of XploSafe stated that “we have been developing this technology for many years now. Support from the State of Oklahoma (OCAST), the US EPA (SBIR), and countless partners across the country and world have helped us to reach this spectacular milestone, and we are so grateful to see all of our dedication and hard work come to fruition with such a prestigious award”.

Annually since its inception in 1996, the award has had over 1,800 nominations and only 133 winners across its 5 total categories. The small business category, which XploSafe won, is annually awarded to only a single company across the entirety of the United States.

XploSafe’s Operations Manager, Michael Teicheira, had the following to say: “this award is a major stepping stone in our growth as a company. We set our vision on developing green chemistry solutions over a decade ago, and it has not always been an easy path to walk. We are a small, bootstrapped venture and we are absolutely humbled to join the elite ranks as a winner of this highly sought-after award”.

XploSafe’s partners in this research endeavor included the Oklahoma Aquarium, the Stillwater Wastewater Treatment Plant, Oklahoma State University’s Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department (Dr. John Veenstra and Wayne Kiner), and The Stover Group.

XploSafe based in Stillwater, Oklahoma is a provider of critical safety solutions for homeland security and chemical safety. Their XploSens explosives detection, XPell peroxide safety products, and XCel+ chemical vapor sampling badges are used by first responders, industrial safety officers, threat assessment officials, and laboratory and chemical manufacturing personnel all over the world. PhosRox™: Sorbent for sustainable capture of plant nutrients from wastewater and other waters and subsequent application as time-release fertilizer.

For questions, please contact Shoaib Shaikh, Co-Founder and CEO, at, or visit XploSafe online at

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I'm an Oklahoma City-based freelance writer with interests in Oklahoma startup community, Apple Inc, OKC Thunder & Texas Rangers.

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