Hey everyone! In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, we decided to talk about ways our fields tackle sustainability. In chemistry, this is done in the area of green chemistry. This branch is devoted to designing processes and products that minimize using and generating hazardous chemicals. A lot of research groups have interests in this field because it's overall safer and if non-toxic waste can be generated from these new processes, that can reduce the impacts that toxic chemicals have on health and the environment.
Green Chemistry has 12 principles they have to abide by to count in the field:
2. Atom economy
3. Less hazardous chemical syntheses
4. Designing safer chemicals
5. Safer solvents and auxiallaries
6. Design for energy efficiency
7. Use of renewable feedstocks
8. Reduce derivatives
10. Design for degradation
11. Real-time analysis for pollution prevention
12. Inherently safer chemistry for accident prevention
Now if I sat and explained all of these that would take too long, but long story short all of these principles are set in place in order to maximize the amount of material in the product, use renewable materials and energy sources, and to avoid waste production.
One major application of green chemistry that a lot of research groups are looking at is how to use carbon dioxide for other energy processes. A lot of chemical reactions use and produce this gas as, so efforts are being made to find uses for it as an energy fuel or even finding ways to reduce it into other organic chemicals like methane as a way of chemical recycling.
Let me know what you all are doing to celebrate Earth Day and what your field of STEM means by "sustainability"!