Chemistry

Green Chemistry

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“THE GREEN IS THE NEW RED”

_Better Chemistry for a greener world_

Solvents, reagents, precipitates, hazards, and products! Numbers of items are brought from Chemistry. Though most of the parts of it are limited to our school books and practicals, Chemistry is everywhere. It is used regularly in our day-to-day lives probably without our knowledge about it. We use chemistry in foods, medicine, cosmetics, house hold items and each and everything, it is having “Chemistry”.

Chemistry is, like any other discipline in the world, also has its dark side. The adverse effects of it became more evident after the industrial revolution. By the mid-20th century, some of the long term negative effects of the advancement of science could not be ignored. The pollution of water, land, and air, deteriorated the world’s health day by day. Some chemicals in common usage were suspected of causing or directly linked with these issues. Therefore, many governments began to regulate the generation and disposal of industrial wastes and emissions with the intention to familiarize the concept “Chemistry for a clean world”. The 1990s marked the accelerated acceptance of pollution prevention and the establishment of Green Chemistry as a legitimate scientific field.

This concept is a relatively a new idea which developed in the business and regulatory communities as a natural evolution of pollution prevention initiative. This is unlike cleaning up pollution, also called remediation which involves treating waste streams or cleaning up of environmental spills and other releases. While hazardous materials in the environment are removed by remediation, Green Chemistry keeps the hazardous materials out of the environment.

Twelve principals are talked about in Green Chemistry which was introduced in 1998 by Paul T. Anastas and John C. Warner in their publication, Green Chemistry; Theory and Practice.

They are;

  1. Prevent waste
  2. Maximize atom economy
  3. Less hazardous chemical synthesis
  4. Design safer chemicals
  5. Safer solvents and auxiliaries
  6. Increase energy efficiency
  7. Use of renewable feed stocks
  8. Avoid chemical derivatives
  9. Use catalysis
  10. Design for degradation
  11. Real-time analysis for pollution prevention
  12. Inherently safer chemistry for accident prevention

Since the 1990s, chemical industries were under the pressure of new environmental laws and regulations for workers’ health and safety, and environmental pollution. They even changed their procedures and introduced new green technologies to address the above issues.

Green Chemistry now wants to move into renewable feedstock. As desired, the properties of basic starting direction have moved into biological raw materials. (Ex: fats and oils from plants and animals as oleochemical raw materials) On the other hand, many oxidation techniques in chemical processes have changed under this concept. Many oxidations are now performed in water in supercritical CO2 or with less toxic solvents and ambient temperatures. (Ex: supercritical CO2 is used to extract caffeine from coffee beans and water is used as a solvent in Diels-Alder organic synthesis) Catalytic selectivity can be another research effort for the reduction of use of solvent resulting in higher yields and lower amount of wastes. On other side, ionic liquids have many applications such as powerful solvents and electrolytes. Microwave technology and solar power are also used to reduce the environmental pollution.

It is able to develop chemical processes and earth-friendly products that will prevent pollution in the first place by the practice of this concept. It is possible to create alternatives to hazardous substances and can design new chemical processes that reduce waste and reduce demand on diminishing resources.  It can be employed in processes that use smaller amounts of energy while maintaining economic growth and opportunities providing affordable products and services for a growing world population.

The future of Green Chemistry seems to be promising. Several laws and acts have been passed in favor at present with hopes for a better tomorrow that are being not only favorable for the environment but also to the economy. Even though the capital investment may be higher than traditional methods, the final outcome will be healthier to the whole world encouraging the industry to invest in greener and safer methods. Let that era of pollution end with us offering a greater, better and more beautiful future for the next generation, than it was transmitted to us. Then they will be fortunate to breathe fresh air, feeling the warmth of Mother Nature better than ourselves.

 

Reference

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

Upeksha De Silva
Upeksha is a contributor at Nerdynaut Staff.
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