Green Chemistry

We depend on the chemical industry to make useful products for our everyday lives. Bulk chemicals are made on a large scale, often millions of tonnes per year e.g. sulphuric acid, sodium hydroxide and ethene. Other chemicals are produced on a much smaller scale e.g. drugs, food additives and liquid crystals. These processes however, produce large quantities of waste by-products which build up on the Earth’s surface or are released into the atmosphere. Government agencies monitor and regulate chemical industries in order to protect the environment and ensure the health and safety of all those associated with the production and use of chemicals.

Green Chemistry is a branch of chemistry responsible for finding ways to make industrial processes less damaging to the environment. This can be done by re-cycling resources, by reducing the by-products or finding ways to make them less harmful to the environment.

This topic provides many opportunities for student discussion and research. It will raise awareness of the processes involved in the manufacture of everyday materials and how household waste is disposed of. Most homes have re-cycling bins so this should be a familiar topic for students to explore but they may not have any awareness of what happens to the waste after it has been collected.

This list provides resources which can be used to teach about recycling, sustainability, and reducing the effects of environmental pollution.

The principles of green chemistry are outlined in Anstas and Warner (1998). Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance