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About Green Chemistry

Green Chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances

Green Chemistry focuses on the inherent nature/properties of chemicals, materials, products, processes, or systems and as such is transdisciplinary in nature, encompassing elements of chemistry, engineering, biology, toxicology and environmental science. Green Chemistry reduces pollution at its source by minimizing or eliminating the hazards of chemical feedstock, reagents, solvents and products; or encouraging the invention and innovation of new and non-hazardous solvents, surfactants, materials, processes and products. This is unlike remediation, which involves end-of-the-pipe treatment or cleaning up of environmental spills and other releases. While remediation removes hazardous materials from the environment, green chemistry keeps hazardous substances out of the environment in the first place.

Green Chemistry is translated from idea into practice through the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. These core principles show where and how in the industrial cycle smart design can make a difference. These principles are the reason that green chemistry can impact and improve industrial processes at nearly every stage.

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THE 12 PRINCIPLES OF GREEN CHEMISTRY

Waste Prevention

It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.

Atom Economy

Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses

Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

Designing Safer Chemicals

Chemical products should be designed to effect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.

Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries

The use of auxiliary substances (e.g. solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used (minimize the use of auxiliary substances).

Design for Energy Efficiency

Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.

Use of Renewable Feedstocks

A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.

Reduce Derivatives

Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.

Catalysis

Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

Design for Degradation

Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.

Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention

Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention

Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions and fires.

Anastas, P. T. and Warner, J. C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice. Oxford University Press: New York, 1998, p. 30. By permission of Oxford University Press.

THE BENEFITS OF GREEN CHEMISTRY

Green Chemistry impacts different aspects of our life, the economy and the environment. Some examples of the benefits of Green Chemistry are:

  • For the environment: Products will biodegrade and won’t persist in the environment.
  • For human health: Products won’t cause toxic harm to humans.
  • For the economy: Novel products can boost competitiveness.
  • For sustainability: Products made from renewable resources have less negative environmental impact.
  • For science: Fundamental new insights and innovation.