Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies throughout the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, use, and ultimate disposal.
- Green chemistry is also known as sustainable chemistry.
- Green chemistry prevents pollution at the molecular level.
- It is a philosophy that applies to all areas of chemistry, not a single discipline of chemistry.
- Applies innovative scientific solutions to real-world environmental problems.
- This results in source reduction because it prevents the generation of pollution.
- Reduces the negative impacts of chemical products and processes on human health and the environment.
- Minimize and sometimes eliminate hazards from existing products and processes.
- Design chemical products and processes to reduce their intrinsic hazards.
How green chemistry reduce pollution?
Green chemistry reduces pollution at its source by minimizing or eliminating the hazards of chemical feedstock, reagents, solvents, and products. This is unlike cleaning up pollution and is also called remediation. Remediation involves treating waste streams or cleaning up environmental spills and other releases. It may include separating hazardous chemicals from other materials and treating them so they are no longer hazardous, or concentrating them for safe disposal. Most remediation activities do not involve green chemistry. Remediation removes hazardous materials from the environment; on the other hand, Green chemistry keeps the hazardous materials out of the environment in the first place.
Green chemistry technology
If technology reduces or eliminates the hazardous chemical used to clean up environmental contaminations, this technology would qualify as a green chemistry technology.
For example, is replacing a hazardous sorbent(chemical) used to capture mercury from the air for safe disposal with an effective, but not hazardous sorbent. Using the non-hazardous sorbent means that the hazardous sorbent was never manufactured and so the remediation technology meets the definition of green chemistry.
12 Principles of Green Chemistry
These principles demonstrate the breadth of the concept of green chemistry:
- Prevent waste: design chemical syntheses to prevent waste. It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.
- Maximize 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 synthesis: design syntheses to use and generate substances with little or no toxicity to either humans or the environment.
- Design safer chemicals and products: Chemical products should be designed to affect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.
- Use safer solvents and reaction conditions: Avoid using solvents, separation agents, or other auxiliary chemicals.
- Design for energy efficiency: The 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.
- Avoid chemical derivatives: Avoid using blocking or protecting groups, or any temporary modifications if possible.
- Use catalysts, not stoichiometric reagents: Minimize waste by using catalytic reactions.
- 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.
- Analyze in real time to prevent pollution: Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time analysis in process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
- 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.
What is green chemistry?
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances.