We must first comprehend “Green Chemistry” to understand how it can assist us in achieving our sustainability goals. Around 1990, the field of “green chemistry” or “sustainable chemistry” was founded with the goals of reducing pollution, using fewer non-renewable resources, and having a minimal negative impact on the environment. The US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), which also funded research to use green chemistry to reduce pollution, promoted this strategy.
What Is Green chemistry?
Green chemistry refers to the development of chemical products and procedures that reduce the use or production of hazardous materials. Green chemistry covers all aspects of a chemical product’s life cycle, including its formation, use, and ultimate disposal.
Goals of Green Chemistry
So let’s take a closer look at “Green Chemistry” to understand what it is and how it might contribute to achieving these objectives. Green chemistry is a multidisciplinary strategy for raising the environmental standing of the chemical industry.
● Wastage prevention:
Create waste-free chemical synthesises. Leave no trash for cleanup or treatment. Green chemicals can help us move toward a cleaner world, and the goal should be to eliminate all harmful chemical releases, ensuring a more sustainable future.
● Create safer chemical synthesis methods:
Always seek to avoid using or producing toxic substances in your process. If you avoid these substances entirely in your process, you won’t have to worry about how to dispose of or contain them.
● Use of safer solvents and reaction conditions:
Avoid using auxiliary chemicals like solvents or separation agents. Use safer chemicals instead of these ones if you must.
● Increase energy efficiency:
Your process will use less energy if it runs at room temperature and pressure. It will also reduce the possibility of your product or any manufacturing process components being discharged accidentally. Less energy consumption means less depletion of energy resources, and sourcing all energy from renewable sources would vastly improve sustainability.
● Utilize sustainable feedstock:
Utilize renewable starting materials (also referred to as feedstocks) rather than finite resources. The source of depletable feedstocks is frequently fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, or coal), or mining operations; the source of renewable feedstocks is frequently agricultural products or the wastes of other processes.
● Avoid chemical derivatives:
Avoid processes that generate byproducts that must be disposed of. If this is not possible, try to find a way to improve sustainability by using the derivative as a feedstock for another process.
● Atom economy:
The use of all materials in the final product should be maximised during synthetic processes to prevent the production of any waste. This will reduce waste and improve the sustainability of the process.
● Safer chemicals:
If the chemicals being manufactured and their by-products are not toxic, explosive, or flammable, there is no need to be concerned about their environmental impact. To avoid these hazards, aim to create chemicals with benign properties.
● Use catalysts instead of stoichiometric reagents:
Use catalytic reactions to reduce waste. Catalysts are effective in small quantities and can perform a single reaction multiple times. They are preferable to stoichiometric reagents, which are used in excess and only perform one reaction.
● Design for Degradation:
Create chemical products that degrade to inconsequential substances after use, preventing them from accumulating in the environment.
● Analyze in real time to prevent pollution:
Wherever possible, all hazardous and harmful products should be monitored and controlled before they are released into the environment. Modern monitoring technology is highly sophisticated and adaptable, allowing for real-time analysis of effluent streams in order to avoid the need for treatment or diversion of harmful discharges to air, water, or land. This will aid in the preservation of the environment by preventing damage to it.
● Reduce the possibility of an accident:
Chemicals and their physical forms (solid, liquid, or gas) should be designed to reduce the possibility of chemical accidents such as explosions, fires, and environmental releases.
The term “Green Chemistry” refers to a multidisciplinary approach to raw materials, solvents, catalysis, synthesis, process efficiency, and energy efficiency. In many, if not all, cases, Good Manufacturing Practices will be synonymous. It seeks to achieve 100% atom efficiency, which will not always be possible, but using waste streams as feedstock for other processes will improve sustainability.
The real question should not be whether Green Chemistry improves sustainability, but rather, “Why isn’t the chemical industry already following Green Chemistry principles?”
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