Green chemistry labs teach students a sustainable and innovative mindset | 4/7/2016 | Staff
Cayley1561Cayley1561 (Posted by) Level 3
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The chemical industry has been responsible for numerous technological advancements, but also many environmental problems and disasters. Principles applied through what's called green chemistry seek to reduce or eliminate hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and use of chemical products.

These principles are are now widely touted as the solution to making chemistry a field that develops more sustainably. Today's chemistry students expect to be educated with environmental impact in mind. Chemistry education researcher Julie Haack at the University of Oregon notes that laboratory methods leading to greener results are critical for how chemistry educators equip chemists for today and the future.

Chemistry - Faculty - Member - Researcher - Chemistry

As a chemistry faculty member and researcher of green chemistry education at the University of Winnipeg, with my colleague Michael Weibe I've found there are multiple benefits to developing new experiments that incorporate the principles and metrics of green chemistry.

When students practice green chemistry, they learn to think critically about the global impact of their field —and fortuitously, they also become passionate about closely studying the principles and techniques involved in chemical transformation.

Principles - Metrics - Chemistry - Undergraduates - Instructors

By comparatively introducing the principles and metrics of green chemistry to undergraduates, instructors can ingrain consideration of green chemistry principles and metrics into prospective chemists' daily routines. They can challenge chemists-in-training to always look for alternative routes, and inspire meaningful and purposeful curiosity.

For example, in the following lesson, students can learn that a seemingly small development in how chemists choose to synthesize chemicals could mean keeping mass volumes of hazardous chemicals out of the waste stream at the industrial level.

Reaction - Substitution - Example - Lab - Experiment

A reaction called a nucleophilic aromatic substitution is an example of a lab experiment that undergraduate organic chemistry students can generally accomplish in about an hour.

Pictured below is a schematic representation of this reaction. Chemists working in industry might do this synthesis as one of several steps in producing...
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