Green Chemistry: Generating Efficient Products
Also known as sustainable chemistry, it is a model based on modifying chemical processes when designing products with the aim of reducing or directly eradicating the use or formation of environmentally harmful chemical substances or waste.
Green chemistry is applicable in the production cycles of any chemical product, thinking about its usefulness from design, through manufacturing to the use or consumption of this product, thus going hand in hand with a movement such as the circular economy, which seeks to redesign the global economic model for the benefit of the environment.
Principles of Green Chemistryy
The following are some of the most important principles of green chemistry:
- Minimising the creation of waste as much as possible through the design of a chemical synthesis in the composition of the elements to avoid having to treat or clean the waste resulting from the processing of any material.
- Promoting atomic economy: from the design of a product, its composition is modified so that it has the highest proportion of materials required and thus the waste is greatly reduced or non-existent.
- Designing less hazardous or polluting chemical products: the design seeks to produce a product that is less toxic or polluting for the environment.
- Avoiding the use of non-renewable raw materials: these materials are mainly hydrocarbons or fossil fuels, which generate excessive environmental pollution, considerable damage to the environment and unnecessary costs.
- Minimising the production of chemical by-products: these by-products generated in the production of chemical products can be waste and even pollutants, so their formation is avoided by modifying the design of chemical products prior to their production.
Difference between green chemistry and pollution clean-up
Green chemistry seeks to reduce or eradicate the pollution generated in the production of chemical products or materials from their roots, thus modifying the design and composition of the material to be produced, so that the final product does not generate unwanted waste or chemical by-products.
On the other hand, pollution clean-up deals with the removal of the products or residues resulting from the processing of a chemical product, which is the only measure to prevent the spread of further damage to the environment.
Green Chemistry seeks to avoid the clean-up of contamination, thus maximising the use of raw materials and generating economic efficiency by reducing unnecessary clean-up costs.
Green chemistry applications
This renewal model is applied in different aspects of chemistry, such as biochemistry, pharmaceuticals, chemical engineering and organic chemistry, among others. These are already starting to move into the green chemistry framework, maximising the efficiency of products and reducing their processes.
An interesting example we can see today of the application of green chemistry is the modification of the traditional composition of ibuprofen as part of a pharmaceutical process.
This modification consists of transforming a complex process that resulted in high energy costs and the generation of unfavourable waste elements, into a new method with fewer processes that produces a minimum amount of waste, making production easier, quicker and less polluting.
Green chemistry is an approach that seeks to change industry fir it to be more environmentally friendly. This is increasingly more necessary in order to curb the constant and growing generation of waste that undermines our health as humans and the health of our planet, for which we have no replacement.