What is Green Chemistry?
The Green Chemistry is defined as invention, design, development and application of chemical products and processes to reduce or to eliminate the use and generation of substances hazardous to human health and environment. While this short definition appears straightforward, it marks a significant departure from the manner in which environmental issues have been considered or ignored in the upfront design of the molecules and molecular transformations that are at the heart of the chemical enterprise.
Looking at the definition of green chemistry, the first thing one sees is the concept of invention and design. By requiring that the impacts of chemical products and chemical processes are included as design criteria, the definition of green chemistry inextricably links hazard considerations to performance criteria.
Another aspect of the definition of green chemistry is found in the phrase “use and generation”. Rather than focusing only on those undesirable substances that might be inadvertently produced in a process, green chemistry also includes all substances that are part of the process.
Therefore, green chemistry is a tool not only for minimizing the negative impact of those procedures aimed at optimizing efficiency, although clearly both impact minimization and process optimization are legitimate and complementary objectives of the subject.
Green chemistry, however, also recognizes that there are significant consequences to the use of hazardous substances, ranging from regulatory, handling and transport, and liability issues, to name a few. To limit the definition to deal with waste only, would be to address only part of the problem.
Principles of Green Chemistry
The twelve principles of green chemistry embrace these aims, as well as those of waste prevention, the use of renewable raw materials, the minimization of derivatives and better control of chemical processes. The Royal Society of Chemistry has established the Green Chemistry Network to promote green chemistry and now publishes a journal, Green Chemistry , devoted to the subject.
1) It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed.
2) Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.
3) Wherever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that posses little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
4) Chemical products should be designed to preserve efficacy of function while reducing toxicity.
5) The use of auxiliary substances (e.g. solvents, separation agents etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and, innocuous when used.
6) Energy requirements should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. Synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.
7) A raw material feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practical.
8) Unnecessary derivatization (blocking group, protection/deprotection, and temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be avoided whenever possible.
9) Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.
10) Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they do not persist in the environment and break down into innocuous degradation products.
11) Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
12) Substances and the forms of the substance used in chemical reaction should be chosen so as to minimize the potential of chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.