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Lesson Three: Applying the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry

Module Four: Real World Solutions


Video Lecture

Catalyst Manufacturing

View the online lecture for the details necessary to understand this module's key ideas.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

Describe specific examples of how greener chemistry is being used today in place of unsustainable practices.

Over the past twenty years, scientists worldwide have been putting green principles and technologies into practice. In this module, we will examine some award-winning examples of green chemistry in action—real life success stories.

1. Greener Reaction Conditions

Since 1996, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sponsored Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. In 2006, the Greener Reaction Conditions Award went to Codexis, Inc. This corporation developed an improved way to manufacture Atorvastatin, a top selling drug designed to lower cholesterol. The new approach was simpler, more efficient, safer and less toxic than previous processes.

2. Greener Polymer Creation

The American Chemical Society Award for Affordable Green Chemistry was recently established to recognize green products and processes that are less expensive than conventional technologies. The inaugural award honored Geoffrey Coates of Cornell University for his development of polycarbonate plastics synthesized from CO2. This was a substantial improvement over conventional polycarbonates which are produced with phosgene, a highly toxic gas.

3. Sustainable Methods of Organic Molecule Synthesis

The 2008 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Academic Award was made to Robert Maleczka and Milton Smith of Michigan State University for improvements in Suzuki coupling—a popular method for building large, complex molecules from simple building blocks. Early Suzuki couplings were very wasteful. The new method works in an efficient, straightforward, and environmentally benign manner, providing a powerful addition to the “green chemistry tool chest."

To explore this module's material in depth, view the lecture.

Key Points

  • The Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry are being put into place successfully.
  • Both academic groups and individuals have used the Twelve Principles to create practical, affordable solutions to problems with sustainability.
  • These solutions are currently in use and over coming real world challenges.