Green Chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, use, and ultimate disposal. Green chemistry is also known as sustainable chemistry. One of the pioneers in Green Chemistry is Professor Paul Anastas, Yale University. New Jersey.
In 2002 Paul Anastas was awarded by the University of Athens, Greece.
Green chemistry’s 12 principles
1. Prevent waste: Design chemical syntheses to prevent waste. Leave no waste to treat or clean up.
2. Maximize atom economy: Design syntheses so that the final product contains the maximum proportion of the starting materials. Waste few or no atoms.
3. Design less hazardous chemical syntheses: Design syntheses to use and generate substances with little or no toxicity to either humans or the environment.
4. Design safer chemicals and products: Design chemical products that are fully effective yet have little or no toxicity.
5. Use safer solvents and reaction conditions: Avoid using solvents, separation agents, or other auxiliary chemicals. If you must use these chemicals, use safer ones.
6. Increase energy efficiency: Run chemical reactions at room temperature and pressure whenever possible.
7. Use renewable feedstocks: Use starting materials (also known as feedstocks) that are renewable rather than depletable. The source of renewable feedstocks is often agricultural products or the wastes of other processes; the source of depletable feedstocks is often fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, or coal) or mining operations.
8. Avoid chemical derivatives: Avoid using blocking or protecting groups or any temporary modifications if possible. Derivatives use additional reagents and generate waste.
9. Use catalysts, not stoichiometric reagents: Minimize waste by using catalytic reactions. Catalysts are effective in small amounts and can carry out a single reaction many times. They are preferable to stoichiometric reagents, which are used in excess and carry out a reaction only once.
10. Design chemicals and products to degrade after use: Design chemical products to break down to innocuous substances after use so that they do not accumulate in the environment.
11. Analyze in real time to prevent pollution: Include in-process, real-time monitoring and control during syntheses to minimize or eliminate the formation of byproducts.
12. Minimize the potential for accidents: Design chemicals and their physical forms (solid, liquid, or gas) to minimize the potential for chemical accidents including explosions, fires, and releases to the environment.
President Clinton announced the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Program on March 16, 1995 as a voluntary partnership program between US Environmental Protection Agency offices, other federal agencies, chemical industries, trade associations, scientific organisations, and academia. Through awards, education programs and grants, the Program has recognised and promoted innovative technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use, and that have been or can be utilised by industry for pollution prevention.
Since its inception in 1996, USEPA has presented awards annually in five categories to nominated industries, SMEs, and academic individuals. The total 93 winner techynologies have made billions of pounds of progress, including:
- 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents eliminated each year – enough to fill almost 3,800 railroad tank cars or a train nearly 47 miles long.
- 21 billion gallons of water saved each year – the amount used by 820,000 people annually.
- 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to air eliminated each year – equal to taking 810,000 automobiles off the road.
Winners of the 2014 Awards
The winners of the 19th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards were announced on October 16, 2014.
In the small business category:
Amyris Inc. of Emeryville, California, is being recognized for engineering yeast to make a renewable fuel replacement for petroleum diesel. Making and burning this bus and truck fuel could reduce 82 percent of green-house gas emissions as compared to petroleum diesel. Since carbon pollution increases our costs in health care and other impacts, this technology could save tens of thousands of dollars each year.
In the academic category:
Professor Shannon Stahl, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being recognized for discovering a way to safely and efficiently use oxygen instead of hazardous chemicals in a step commonly used to make medicine. If brought to market, these methods could have a big impact on the industry, reducing chemicals and waste, and saving companies time and money.
In the “greener reaction conditions, designing greener chemicals, and greener synthetic pathways” categories:
Solazyme, Inc., of South San Francisco, California, is being recognized for developing novel oils from sugar and engineered algae in a way that significantly reduces the environmental effects that typically occur in producing and processing petroleum-based or plant-based oils. Soaps, laundry detergents, food products, fuels, and industrial products can now be produced with greatly reduced energy, water and waste, saving money. The company’s palm-oil equivalent can help reduce deforestation and greenhouse gases that can occur from cultivation of palm oil.
QD Vision, Inc. of Lexington, Massachusetts, for developing a process to make more efficient LED lighting and displays for TVs and mobile devices with less environmental impacts and waste. The new LED lighting material may make it possible to save 36 percent of your T.V. energy costs. Using their technology in just 10 percent of flat-screen TVs can save 600 million kilowatt-hours worldwide every year. That is enough to provide electricity for 50,000 homes for one year. Even better, producing these materials avoids using an estimated 40,000 gallons of solvents per year. This technology brings massive energy savings and is good for the planet with reduced carbon and heavy metals emissions, and less use of toxic chemicals.
The Solberg Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin, for developing a safer foam using surfactants and sugars that can fight fires better than traditional foams that rely on persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals. One of the world’s largest oil and gas companies will be using this foam to fight fuel fires and spills. The product works better and is safer – a win-win for industry and protecting our health and the environment.
A similiar green chemistry award has been proposed for Europe by the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen. However, it never happened, because the European Commission wouldn’t support such award.