GREEN CHEMISTRY RESEARCH AREAS
OECD - In the framework of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “Risk Management Programme”, a new activity called “Sustainable Chemistry” was endorsed by the member countries (in Paris, February 1998), with the aim of encouraging the development of chemical products and processes (and of recommending the related actions) which are simultaneously environmentally friendly and economically viable.
The activity commenced with a survey by the Steering Committee [USA, Italy, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, UK and Business and Industry Advisor Committee to the OECD (BIAC)] on programs and initiatives on green/sustainable chemistry launched worldwide by government, industry and academia.
In consideration of the survey results, the policy and programmatic aspects of the Sustainable Chemistry activity were discussed at the Venice Workshop (October 1998) in the presence of representatives from government, industry and academia from 22 countries and subsequently approved at the OECD meeting in Paris (June 6, 1999).
The following areas for research and development in green/sustainable chemistry were identified:
Use of Alternative Feedstocks: the use of feedstocks which are both renewable rather than depleting, and less toxic to human health and the environment.
Use of Innocuous Reagents: the use of reagents that are inherently less hazardous and are catalytic whenever feasible.
Employing Natural Processes: use of biosynthesis, biocatalysis, and biotech-based chemical transformations for efficiency and selectivity.
Use of Alternative Solvents: the design and utilization of solvents which have reduced potential for detriment to the environment and serve as alternatives to currently used volatile organic solvents, chlorinated solvents, and solvents which damage the natural environment.
Design of Safer Chemicals: use of molecular structure design - and consideration of the principles of toxicity and mechanism of action - to minimize the intrinsic toxicity of the product while maintaining its efficacy of function.
Developing Alternative Reaction Conditions: the design of reaction conditions that increase the selectivity of the product and allow for dematerialization of the product separation process.
Minimizing Energy Consumption: the design of chemical transformations that reduce the required energy input in terms of both mechanical and thermal inputs and the associated environmental impacts of excessive energy usage.
These topics were further discussed during the OECD Workshop on R&D programmes related to Sustainable Chemistry in Tokyo, 10-13 October, 2000. The main objective of the second workshop was to develop guidance to assist OECD and others to develop effective research and development programmes.
Further initiatives related to green chemistry/sustainability, education, and information dissemination that have been implemented by IUPAC and OECD include:
- the CHEMRAWN (Chemistry Research Applied to World Needs) conference organized by IUPAC in Boulder, Colorado, USA, June 2001, and entitled “Toward Environmentally Benign Process and Products”, attracted speakers and delegates from both industrialized and developing nations to deliberate on how the subject can contribute towards achieving the goals of sustainable development.
- The IUPAC scientific Journal “Pure and Applied Chemistry” published a Special Issue on Green Chemistry. 1a Green Chemistry Education in the European context. This project was undertaken to provide information on green chemistry which was aimed at the general public. The need for such publications was addressed at the conference titled “The public intelligence of science” (Paris, 30.11.2000), whereby citizens are becoming more and more aware of the risks associated with scientific progress, and ask for an understandable science, not only for researchers, but for the general public. This is particularly true for the environmental problems. There is the necessity for science to provide solutions for worrying problems, approaching responsible research studying risk and precaution. But if the “zero risk” generally requested by the common people doesn’t exist, the problem becomes the diffusion of correct scientific information and the democratic choice of the proportion of risk we are prepared to accept.
In the US, the EPA's Green Chemistry Program promotes the research, development, and implementation of innovative chemical technologies that accomplish pollution prevention in a scientifically sound and cost-effective manner.
The Green Chemistry Program was put into effect shortly after the passage of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. The Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) explored the idea of developing new or improving existing chemical products and processes to make them less hazardous to human health and the environment. In 1991, OPPT launched a model research grants program called "Alternative Synthetic Pathways for Pollution Prevention". This program provided, for the first time, grants for research projects that include pollution prevention in the design and synthesis of chemicals. Since then, the Green Chemistry Program has built many collaborations with academia, industry, other government agencies, and non-government organizations to promote the use of chemistry for pollution prevention through completely voluntary, non-regulatory partnerships.
More specifically, the Green Chemistry Program supports fundamental research in the area of environmentally benign chemistry as well as a variety of educational activities, international initiatives, conferences and meetings, and green chemistry tools. The program is composed of four major program areas including green chemistry research, the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge, green chemistry education, and scientific outreach.
The Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7) is the European Union’s
main instrument for funding research in Europe, and applies to the years 2007-2013. FP7 is the successor to the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
Since their launch in 1984, the Framework Programmes have played a lead role in multidisciplinary research and cooperative activities in Europe and beyond. FP7 continues that task, and is both larger and more comprehensive than earlier Framework Programmes. The programme has a budget of 53.2 billion euros over its seven-year lifespan, the largest funding allocation yet for such programmes.
Sustainable chemistry is well represented in the programme, as developed with the input from scientific organisations such as SusChem, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry, in which the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) are major partners. SusChem was initiated in 2004 to produce a European research strategy in the areas of chemistry and industrial biotechnology. Backed and funded by the European Union Commission under the Framework Programme 6, SusChem was set up jointly by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio). Thematic areas in which chemistry research is of paramount importance, critical for further innovation and eco-efficient processes, include industrial biotechnology, materials technology and reaction and process design.
The SusChem implementation action plan (IAP) outlines key research areas where chemistry can improve its environmental and economic sustainability, and SusChem now hopes to focus European spending in chemical research and development into those fields. Three visionary projects – including a ‘smart energy home’ and improved biorefineries – are helping to shape specific project proposals that could request funding from the FP7.
IUPAC scientific Journal “Pure and Applied Chemistry” http://www.iupac.org/publications/pac/
US EPA www.epa.gov/
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) http://www.epa.gov/oppt/