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What is Green Chemistry?

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 01 Apr, 2022

Every day, the earth’s atmosphere, soil, and water are contaminated. And it is impossible to eradicate all pollution-causing factors at once, such as industry and cars. Alternative manufacturing techniques that do not contaminate the environment as much as existing ones are possible. The primary cause of green chemistry is continuous environmental degradation and pollution. Green chemistry (also known as sustainable chemistry) is a branch of chemistry that focuses on developing products and processes that eliminate or reduce the usage and creation of harmful chemicals. It offers a one-of-a-kind platform for the development of green and sustainable technology. 

Since the usage of fertilizers and pesticides has increased, it is becoming more difficult to become self-sufficient in terms of food production. Soil, air, and water quality have all worsened as a result of over-exploitation of soil and the application of excessive pesticides and fertilizers. We can seek ways that can aid in the reduction of pollution. We can’t halt the development approaches that are vital for our survival. As a result, the notion of green chemistry is introduced.

What is Green Chemistry?

Green chemistry is described as the use of a set of principles in the design, production, and use of chemical products to assist decrease or eliminate the use or creation of hazardous chemicals. 

Green chemistry is also known as Sustainable Chemistry. It is the branch of chemistry which is mainly concerned with the optimization of processes or creation of new processes that aim to remove or lower the amount of toxic substances produced in the environment. Green chemistry is different from environmental chemistry. Green chemistry is concerned with creating sustainable development while the environmental chemistry is concerned with harmful effects of the toxic substances on the environment.

Green chemistry is a field of chemistry that involves the development of chemical products that decrease or eliminate the production of harmful chemicals. It covers chemical reagents, reactions, and products, as well as their design, manufacture, usage, and disposal.

Paul Anastas and John C. Warner presented a set of principles to govern green chemistry in the year 1998. The twelve principles have provided a variety of options for reducing the environmental and health consequences of chemical manufacturing. It also provides opportunities for green technology research and development.

Green Chemistry is an Alternative Tool for Reducing Pollution: 12 Principles of Green Chemistry

Green chemistry is primarily based upon 12 key principles. These principles were stated by American chemists’ Paul Anastas and John Warner in the year 1998. These principles have been discussed below:

  • Prevention of Waste: It aims at reduction in waste generated rather than cleaning the waste after generation. Thus it focuses to prevent waste generation.
  • Atom economy: It focuses to design such processes that utilize the maximum amount of raw material to make a product. Thus it aims at maximum efficiency of a process. This also helps to reduce waste being generated.
  • Avoiding the generation of hazardous chemicals: Various processes should make the minimum use of toxic and harmful substances
  • The design of safe chemicals: In any process, care must be taken that the chemicals or wastes produced are the least harmful to humans and the environment.
  • Design of safe auxiliaries and solvents: The use of auxiliaries in various chemical processes must be avoided. If it is very necessary to do so, then only those chemicals must be used that are the least toxic.
  • Energy efficiency: The energy consumption should be minimized and new processes must be designed that are highly efficient and make the maximum utilization of the energy being used.
  • Incorporation of renewable feedstock: The processes must make the maximum use of renewable resources and renewable energy and raw materials in order to produce the products. The least use of non renewable resources should be made.
  • Reduction in the generation of derivatives: The generation of derivatives must be minimum as they require additional resources to de toxify them and generate more waste.
  • Incorporation of Catalysts: Non toxic catalysts must be used as they tend to increase the rate of process and lowers the total energy consumption.
  • Designing the chemicals for degradation: When creating new products, care must be taken that the product or chemical is non toxic to environment and easily degradable to prevent pollution.
  • Incorporating real-time analysis: Processes must be monitored in real time and the data must be readily available. This can help to stop a process before it leads to production of toxic substances.
  • Incorporation of safe chemistry for the prevention of accidents: The chemicals that are being used must be safe to use and handle. This will ensure minimum risk of accident and also provide a safer environment to work.

Examples of Green Chemistry

  1. Use of green solvents: With the advancement in technology, we have come up with such solvents and chemicals that are non toxic and do not cause pollution. Earlier, the chemicals or solvents used were known to have chlorine and were toxic to the environment.
  2. Development of new techniques: New techniques and processes are being developed that are non toxic and do not cause harm to the environment. An example of such a technique is the development of the olefin metathesis reaction by Robert Grubbs, Richard Schrock, and Yves Chauvin who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2005. Other developments include supercritical water oxidation, dry media reactions, etc.
  3. Hydrazine Production: Earlier the hydrazine was produced using ammonia and sodium hypochlorite which produced toxic substances as waste. A new process was developed to make hydrazine with the help of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. In this reaction, water is the only product apart from hydrazine. Thus this process has also reduced the waste production. Moreover this process does not make use of any additional solvents or chemicals.
  4. Bleaching of Paper: Hydrogen Peroxide has replaced chlorine in the process of bleaching paper. Chlorine that was used earlier was harmful for the environment.
  5. Dry cleaning: Earlier tetrachloroethylene was used as a dry cleaning agent which was very toxic and polluted ground water. It was a carcinogenic and caused diseases. This has now been replaced by liquefied CO_2 and a detergent. This process ensures that the waste produced is least toxic as the waste product produced in this case is liquid carbon dioxide.

Uses of Green Chemistry are:

Green chemistry plays a vital role in our daily lives and has applications in all the fields. Some used of green chemistry are discussed below:

  • It is used in consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and other industries.
  • It is used to develop new processes that are less harmful for the environment and more efficient
  • It has a use in electronics and electrical industry too.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Define Green Chemistry.

Answer:

Green chemistry is also known as sustainable chemistry. It is the branch of chemistry which is mainly concerned with the optimization of processes or creation of new processes that aim to remove or lower the amount of toxic substances produced in the environment.

Question 2: What is the difference between green chemistry and environmental chemistry?

Answer:

Green chemistry is concerned with creating sustainable development while the environmental chemistry is concerned with harmful effects of the toxic substances on the environment.

Question 3: Who gave the 12 principles of green chemistry?

Answer:

The 12 principles of green chemistry were given by American chemists Paul Anastas and John Warner in 1998.

Question 4: Explain the Prevention of Waste principle?

Answer:

According to this principle, processes must be designed such that the waste produced is reduced and minimum waste is produced. It focuses on prevention of waste production rather than treatment of waste.

Question 5: How bleaching of paper has been changed with green chemistry?

Answer:

Hydrogen Peroxide has replaced chlorine in the process of bleaching paper. Chlorine that was used earlier was harmful for the environment.

Question 6: How is hydrazine produced in the new technique?

Answer:

Hydrazine is now produced with the help of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide which leaves behind water as the only waste product.

Question 7: State two uses of green chemistry?

Answer:

The uses of green chemistry are as follows:

  • It finds applications in consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and other industries.
  • It is used to develop new processes that are less harmful for the environment and more efficient.

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