5. Dow Chemical

The chemical giant, founded when William McKinley sat in the White House (1897), has embarked upon a multi-pronged strategy to exploit its know-how in membranes, coatings and material science to reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed by others in manufacturing their own products. Think of it as invisible green.

Last September, Dow Corning, a joint venture between Dow and Corning, brought a silicone sealant originally devised for outer-space solar panels to the conventional solar panel market. Silicone protects better than standard coatings, the company said, but also increases factory output. In November, Dow signed a multimillion dollar, multi-year research alliance with Caltech to develop next-generation solar technologies.

This year, the company will sell copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar roofing tiles. Initial customers for the tiles, developed in conjunction with Global Solar, include mass market home builders Lennar and Pulte Homes. It also has an investment in small CIGS developer NuvoSun, which was founded by Miasole founder Dave Pearce.

Meanwhile, Dow Kokam, a joint venture, makes batteries for electric cars. Water is also on Dow's ambitious agenda: it bought Rohm and Haas to expand into desalination.

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