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Green Chemistry

Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or 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.

Green chemistry's 12 principles

These principles demonstrate the breadth of the concept of green chemistry:

1. Prevent waste: Design procedures that reduce or 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 procedures: 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.

For more information:

USEPA's Green Chemistry Website

GVSU's Chemistry Department's Green Chemistry Commitment

GVSU's Green Chemistry Certificate