What is Green Chemistry?
The term green chemistry is used to describe a method that is associated with such a production process that can eliminate or lessen the impact of pollution on the environment. More specifically, it deals with ways to reduce the production of dangerous substances that are generated due to pollution.
It mainly revolves around the production and utilization of any chemical product including its design, fabrication, usage as well as disposal.
In most simple terms, green chemistry is defined as the way of practicing chemistry in such a manner that leads to the maximization of benefits and elimination of adverse impacts on the environment.
One cannot deny that chemistry is an important part of our day-to-day life. However, every single day the development of chemicals is increasing enormously, as a result of which environmental problems and various side effects have been emerging. Hence, greener chemical products are required.
More simply, one can say that green chemistry is associated with preventing the occurrence of pollution at the molecular level. Under the green chemistry program, environmentally friendly chemical processes are promoted, so that the byproduct generated can lessen or vanish the production of dangerous substances.
One should note here that practicing chemistry is associated with environmental chemistry. Environmental chemistry is one of the branches of chemical science that deals with the study of sources, reactions, and effects of chemical species in water, land, or air. Not only this, but also, living environments and the effects of technology are also studied.
Green chemistry is regarded as sustainable chemistry. The reasons for which it is called sustainable are as follows:
- Materials: Green chemistry is known to be sustainable with respect to materials as materials can be used efficiently with more recycling and less usage of virgin raw materials.
- Economic: When performed with sophistication, green chemistry is less costly than chemistry when practiced normally.
- Waste: Reducing at maximal level or with total elimination at the time of production, one can prove that green chemistry is sustainable with respect to wastes.
Principles of Green Chemistry
We have already discussed in the beginning that practicing green chemistry helps to lessen the harmful effects of chemicals and chemical processes on living organisms and the environment. The principles of green chemistry are as follows:
1. Prevention: This principle states that preventing waste is far better than cleaning up the waste. More simply, it can be understood with the example that cleaning any spilled entity on the floor that can create a mess is not good rather one should take care to handle things properly.
In order to prevent waste generation, one efficient way is to incorporate all the sub-products within a final product. Thus, we can say that green chemistry is the maximal incorporation of raw materials into a single product.
2. Less hazardous chemical synthesis: Under green chemistry, one should make sure that such substances or chemicals that can be hazardous to humans and the environment must be prohibited in terms of usage or generation. Mainly the toxic chemicals that can be dangerous to human health when pollutes air or water must be avoided.
This principle proves a strong connection between green chemistry and environmental chemistry.
3. Atom Economy: This principle states that at the time of incorporating multiple products into a single product, synthetic methods must be followed to get the maximal output.
4. Designing safe chemicals: The chemical products must be minimally toxic and must be as effective as possible. Green chemistry permits such designing of chemicals whose effectiveness can be maintained or enhanced with retaining the least toxicity.
5. Energy Efficient: In almost all synthesis and manufacturing processes, the consumed energy poses economic and environmental costs. For example, extracting fossil fuels (i.e., energy) from the ground can potentially damage the environment. Thus, one should limit the need for energy as much as possible.
6. Using Renewable Feedstocks: The raw materials which we extract from the surface of the earth are depleting day by day as these are present in a finite amount. Hence, these materials cannot be replenished after usage. Due to this reason, it is always suggested that depletable feedstocks must not be used rather renewable raw materials must be used.
7. Catalysis: The reagents for the desired function must be selective as much as possible. Catalytic reagents are better than stoichiometric reagents.
8. Reduce Derivatives: At the time of synthesis of organic compounds, groups on the organic molecule must be protected or modified. This gives rise to such byproducts that do not become part of the final product. Hence such products must be disposed of therefore protecting groups must be avoided as much as possible during synthesizing.
9. Accident-protected safe chemistry: Accidents like explosions and fires are so very common in the chemical industry. However, not only these are dangerous but also release toxic chemicals into the environment. Hence use of such chemicals must be avoided which can lead to provide violent reactions.
10. Degradation design: The products that are dispersed into the environment must be easy to get break down so that they cannot persist in the environment.
11. Real-time analysis: The chemical processes that are taking place must have ‘real-time’ control for efficient and safe operation by producing minimum waste.
This has been achieved by modern computerized control, but for this, one should have the correct knowledge about the concentration of materials on a regular basis. Hence, green chemistry involves real-time in-process monitoring with process control.
These are the basic principles of Green Chemistry.