Chemistry of the Future: Green Chemistry

what is green chemistry
writer Zeynep Aktas

Chemistry and chemical substances have been a part of our lives from the past and will probably continue to be a part of our lives as long as the world continues to exist. 'Part of our life' Although the phrase may seem like a classic pattern for some, chemistry is literally a part of our lives.

The production of enzymes necessary for us to breathe, to turn food into energy, to speak, to maintain our lives, and even falling in love is a chemical reaction. For this reason, even if we are not aware of it, the development of chemistry and chemistry has the power to deeply affect us and our society.

Although it has continued to have this power for generations, the development in chemistry has accelerated with the industrial revolution and started to get stronger. Mankind, which started to need chemical processes to feed, clothe, and provide all basic needs for the increasing population, wanted to obtain this need in the cheapest and, of course, the fastest way.

Although the effects of the industrial revolution on the environment were ignored at the beginning, the rapidly developing technology and industry; global warmingstarted to cause many problems such as the spread of dangerous chemicals affecting human health (carcinogens, mutagens and teratogenic substances), the increase of acid rain, the extinction of animals and the restriction of their habitats, and these problems have become undeniable.

At this point, a new concept entered our lives; green chemistry. The main purpose of this new generation chemistry, which emerged in the 1990s, is to stop the effects of industrial wastes in the first place, not later, that is, to reduce or even destroy the pollution at the source. For this reason, green chemistry also called sustainable chemistry or environmental chemistry (Truth, 2012).

What is Green Chemistry?

green chemistryIt is a branch of chemistry that aims to reduce or completely eliminate the use or occurrence of hazardous substances throughout their life cycle, including the design, manufacture, use and final disposal of chemical products and processes.

Why Green Chemistry?

  1. It prevents pollution at the molecular level.
  2. It is not a single discipline of chemistry, but a philosophy that applies to all areas of chemistry.
  3. Applies innovative scientific solutions to real-world environmental problems.
  4. It results in resource reduction as it prevents the formation of pollution.
  5. It reduces the negative effects of chemical products and processes on human health and the environment.
  6. It reduces or eliminates the hazard arising from existing products and processes.

12 Principles of Green Chemistry

There are 12 basic principles for the application of green chemistry. These:

  1. Avoid Waste: It is to minimize and/or destroy the waste generation that may occur as a result of a chemical process.

  2. Atomic Economy: It is the economic efficiency of the reaction that will take place in the chemical process. In other words, if all of a raw material turns into a product, then our efficiency is 100%. However, if by-products are formed during the reaction, then the yield will decrease. Here, atomic economy is an important method that we should use to ensure that the raw material to be used is transformed into the desired product with close to 100% efficiency.

green chemistry 12 principles

Figure 1. Original text of “The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry” published in the article by P. Anastas and J. Warner.

  1. Less Hazardous Chemical Synthesis: Many, if not all, chemicals can cause irreversible damage to both human life and the environment if not used carefully. These chemicals are called hazardous chemicals. The best way to avoid these chemicals is elimination and substitution. In other words, not using those chemicals at all or using a less harmful chemical instead of that chemical. The third principle, one of the basic principles of green chemistry, aims to develop chemical raw materials and processes that are not harmful to humans, the environment and animals.

  2. Designing Safer Chemicals: It is very important for green chemistry to design chemicals that do not reduce the efficiency of the process and do not harm people and the environment. This principle also complements the 3rd principle.

  3. Safer Solvents and Excipients: Solvents are an indispensable part of chemical processes. However, many solvents are classified as hazardous chemicals (ammonia, benzene, hydrogen fluoride). It is very important to design and produce safe and non-hazardous sustainable solvents instead of these chemicals, which pose a danger to both people working with these solvents and auxiliaries, and to society and the environment.

  4. Design for Energy Efficiency: Environmentally and economically energy-saving and efficiency is very important. A highly efficient process means less waste, less pollution and more savings and profits.

  5. Use of Renewable Raw Materials: The raw material or raw materials to be used in the process, sustainable should be. Thus, the damage to the environment and carbon emissions will be minimized and it will provide an economically profitable use.

  6. Reduce Derivatives: Unnecessary derivatization in the chemical process (for example, chemicals used for blocking or protection in chemical production) should be minimized and avoided as much as possible. Because derivatization will bring with it the use of additional chemicals and therefore additional waste.

  7. Catalysis: Selective catalytic reagents are superior to stoichiometric reagents. Because the transition to catalytic reagents increases the reaction efficiency and thus prevents the formation of waste and side reactions. For this reason, the use and selection of catalysts is very important. (Catalysts are substances that increase the reaction rate by lowering the activation energy of a chemical reaction and do not change its chemical structure after the reaction- Source: )

green chemistry

  1. Design for Decay: Chemical products and wastes should be converted into harmless decomposition products as a result of use and should be designed in such a way that they do not harm the environment and are not permanent in the environment.

  2. Real-Time Analysis to Prevent Pollution: Green chemistry is one of the world's biggest problems. environmental pollution It requires the use of real-time analytics to prevent pollution and minimize pollution. This means a set of analytical methods based on monitoring and controlling the chemical process.

  3. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention: A chemical process and the substances to be used in that process (if any) should be selected and designed in such a way as to minimize the potential for chemical accidents.

Do you think the 12 basic principles that form the basis of green chemistry, which you have read above, can prevent or even eliminate the damage that has occurred since the industrial revolution?

We think the answer is yes. Of course, if these principles are fully implemented.

In our next article, let's examine the applications of green chemistry together. Until that time healthy and green thick.

About the Author

Zeynep Aktas

Born in 1998, a Chemical Engineer who believes that science will save the world and works to become a scientist.

Visit on LinkedIn