marți, 8 februarie 2011

Sustainable Procurement: Implications for Supply Chains

Reviewing the UK Government's sustainability policy website introduced an interesting development on how it intends to move towards better and more sustainable purchasing practices for the public sector services. A section of the announcement is given here:Published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
© Crown Copyright 2007
UK Sustainable Procurement Action PlanOn 5 March 2007, the UK Government presented a package of actions to deliver the step change needed to ensure that supply chains and public services will be increasingly low carbon, low waste and water efficient, respect biodiversity and deliver wider sustainable development goals.
UK Government Sustainable Procurement Action Plan will be crucial to achieving the Government's operations targets, which will deliver around 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide savings by 2020.
I found this extremely interesting. A previous post on this site had a degree of relevance for myself, in that both could OR will play a part in integrating the desire for lower energy use (reduced CO2 equivalents) and reductions of environmental impacts from material sourcing. Integrating the principles of: Green Chemistry, Intellectual Property, Supply Chain Processes/Management and InterSpec
In this case, seeing the complementary nature of the objectives of the plan, with the goals of sustainable industry was immediately obvious.
Looking at the text, "The Government’s response to the Task Force and subsequent work with the private sector is intended to make rapid progress in the following key areas:
ii) Effective use of Government procurement power as an enabler to transform the market for innovative and sustainable solutions and make them more widely available and affordable to citizens and corporate buyers;"
, it seemed to me that there is may not be merely rhetoric, and that indeed substantial progress could be made - to pull or push - (depending on your perspective) clean technology development and utilisation and the introduction of more efficient supply processes development in the public and private sectors. Informatics has an important role to play in bridging the divide, and actually creating the physical "integration". The impacts of this policy document will have to be watched closely.

Some recent literature in Green Chemistry of Interest

Having been away from the blogosphere for a time, some recent interesting articles relating to the development of Green Chemistry and Sustainablity are highlighted here:

Sustainable from the very beginning: rational design of molecules by life cycle engineering as an important approach for green pharmacy and green chemistry
from RSC - Green Chem. latest articles by Klaus Kummerer
Taking into account the full life cycle of chemicals will lead to a different understanding of the full functionality necessary for a chemical. Examples are presented to underline the feasibility and the economic potential of the approach benign by design.Klaus Kummerer

(Paper from Green Chem.)
Klaus Kummerer, Green Chem., 2007, DOI: 10.1039/b618298b
(c) The Royal Society of Chemistry

Integral resource management by exergy analysis for the selection of a separation process in the pharmaceutical industry
from RSC - Green Chem. latest articles by H. Van Langenhove
Overall natural resource intake (MJexergy mol-1) for (2R,3R)-3-(3-methoxyphenyl)-N,N-2-trimethylpentanamine-an intermediate in Tapentadol production-manufacturing and isolation through crystallisation or chromatography has been quantified.J. Dewulf, G. Van der Vorst, W. Aelterman, B. De Witte, H. Vanbaelen, H. Van Langenhove

(Paper from Green Chem.)
J. Dewulf, Green Chem., 2007, DOI: 10.1039/b617505h
(c) The Royal Society of Chemistry

What is a green solvent? A comprehensive framework for the environmental assessment of solvents
from RSC - Green Chem. latest articles by Konrad Hungerbuhler
This article addresses the question of how to measure how "green" a solvent is. We propose a framework that covers major aspects of the environmental performance of solvents over the full life-cycle, and also includes health and safety issues.Christian Capello, Ulrich Fischer, Konrad Hungerbuhler

(Paper from Green Chem.)
Christian Capello, Green Chem., 2007, DOI: 10.1039/b617536h
(c) The Royal Society of Chemistry

Also a recent piece of news in C&EN (ACS) from China on environmental legislation and control:
China Admits Setback
Premier vows country will try harder to meet environmental goals
Jean-François Tremblay
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao admitted last week that his country failed in 2006 to meet the environmental emissions and energy efficiency targets that it had set in 2005. But he vowed that China will stick to its medium-term targets for 2010.

Wen addresses China's parliament.

Wen was speaking in Beijing at the opening session of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, China's parliament. Facing 3,000 parliamentarians and the world media, his address could not have been more public.
In 2006, China reduced its energy consumption per unit of gross national product by 1.2%, falling far short of the 4.0% target, he said. Instead of coming down 2.0%, emissions of sulfur dioxide increased 1.8%, and chemical oxygen demand, a measure of water pollution, grew by 1.2%.
Under its 11th national five-year plan, which ends in 2010, China aims to reduce its emissions of major pollutants by 10% and to raise its economic energy efficiency by 20%. "Meeting these mandatory targets cannot be revised, so we must work resolutely to meet them," Wen told delegates.
Partly to meet environmental goals, China will try to curb its economic growth to 8.0% in 2007, down from the 10.7% it achieved last year. In addition, the premier said the country will close smaller coal-fired power plants as well as substandard facilities producing cement, aluminum, ferrous alloys, coke, and calcium carbide.
China has difficulty enforcing national environmental standards, because the country operates in a decentralized manner that allows municipal and provincial officials to interpret Beijing's directives in their own way.
China's State Environmental Protection Agency
reports on its website that its outspoken deputy director, Pan Yue, is urging a change in Chinese laws to correct this situation. Arguing that government officials are involved in the most severe cases of environmental violations, he is calling for new rules that would permit the central government to punish officials who fail to enforce national standards.
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

New Review: Microwave-Assisted Synthesis in Water as Solvent

For those interested in Microwave-Assisted Synthesis in Water, a new review has been published by Oliver Kappe and Doris Dallinger of fame.

Chem. Reviews, DOI: 10.1021/cr0509410

Microwave-Assisted Synthesis in Water as Solvent
Doris Dallinger and C. Oliver Kappe*
Christian Doppler Laboratory for Microwave Chemistry (CDLMC) and Institute of Chemistry, Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Heinrichstrasse 28, A-8010 Graz, Austria

2.Organic Synthesis in Water
3.Microwave-Assisted Organic Synthesis
4.Microwave Chemistry in Water-General Aspects
5.Transition-Metal-Catalyzed Reactions
5.1. Suzuki Reactions
5.2. Heck Reactions
5.3. Sonogashira Reactions
5.4. Stille Reactions
5.5. Hiyama Reactions
5.6. Carbonylation Reactions
5.7. Cyanation Reactions
6.Other Transition-Metal-Mediated Reactions
7.N-, O-, S-Functionalizations
7.1. N-Acylations
7.2. N-Alkylations
7.3. N-Arylations
7.4. O- and S-Functionalizations
8.Heterocycle Synthesis
8.1. Five-Membered N-Heterocycles
8.2. Six-Membered O-Heterocycles
8.3. Six-Membered N-Heterocycles
8.4. Six-Membered N,S-Heterocycles
9.Mannich-Type Multicomponent Reactions
10.Nucleophilic Substitutions
10.1. Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitutions
11.Epoxide Ring-Opening Reactions
12.Diels-Alder Cycloadditions
13.Decarboxylations and Hydrolyses
14.Protection/Deprotection Reactions
15.Miscellaneous Reactions
16.Reactions in Near-Critical Water
17.Future Prospects and Challenges

[Full text in html]
[Full text in pdf]

It should be interesting to note if anything new is in this review and to see what they see as future developments in the area.

The Bioeconomy: A new blog on the horizon

Simon Robinson of ICIS today reported a new blog written by Gerry McKiernan, self described as "Science and Technology Librarian / Iowa State University Library", . The Bioeconomy Blog is the title of the new site, this coupled with the fact that Gerry is a member of Iowa State, and the role he has as librarian means that this site will certainly be worth watching for output.
The inaugural post of the blog was as follows:
Launch of the Bioeconomy Blog
The Bioeconomy Blog is a devoted to the identification and promotion of key primary and secondary literature relating to biorenewable fuels, most notably bioethanol and biodiesel. It will seek to identify all significant literature and presentations relating to the economic, environmental, political, and social aspects of biofuel initiatives.With proper support, it is hoped that the major publications and presentations cited in The Bioenergy Blog will be compiled at some point into a Web-based annotated bibliography.The Bioeconomy Blog was formally established on May 6 2007.

Understanding how work/life can mean that blog output can be sporadic (I apologise for my own absence recently), I certainly will keep a keen eye on this blog since it closely matches some off my already described interests. Here Gerry's experience with various literature types should prove very insightful.

Apologies - for neglecting Blog with promise for new posts coming soon...

Just a quick note to say that the infrequent posting recently is the result of my taking up a new employment role - consulting as an organic chemist in the biofuels area here in the UK. It's an exciting time with lots of information and experiences being gained!

I shall endeavour to begin posting new pieces of information in the next few days. Thanks for having patience in the meantime to anyone who still keeps an eye on this technical blog.


Probing Green Chemical Analytical Methodologies: A new review of the area

The ACS journal Chemical Reviews appears to be having an edition focusing on Green Chemistry related articles in the near future, by inspecting the ASAP article list for the journal. This is excellent news although it must be emphasised that due to the scope of the subject, it would take an entire journal (of which the RSC has one) and much more coverage dedicated to this multifaceted discipline and its daily development. Assuming the list is comprehensive for the subject as some chemists I've spoken to over the blogosphere seem to feel, would be inaccurate. Green Chemistry is most certainly NOT about just doing reactions in water. It is from mere reflection about looking at the bigger picture, thinking strategically in terms of chemistry/engineering (and understanding and using the associated drivers for industry & within the "real world": economics and sociology).

One article covered by
Chemical Reviews is the following looking more specifically at analytical chemistry in relation to Green Chemistry's agenda (See: "Green Analytical Methodologies" below). Here people can see clean technology development for the laboratory environment which in report form is rather unusual and therefore of interest here. This by definition has implications for other areas within the laboratory setting and converges with other schemes which I shall discuss further below.

The author list for this article includes Dr. Jennifer L. Young whom is Senior Program Manager at the ACS Green Chemistry Institute (USA). She also manages and is a contributing force for the Green Chemistry Resource Exchange itself a potentially amazing tool with ramifications in Knowledge Transfer (KTP), Intellectual Property (IPR) and Informatics, and for education of the public and various industries in general. The goal of the exchange is stated as:
"our mission is to provide the public with a straightforward collection of media dealing with green chemistry and innovative technology as well as the means to share new ideas and research."
A further post will deal with this exchange in due course.

Chem. Rev., DOI: 10.1021/cr068359e
Green Analytical Methodologies
Lawrence H. Keith,* Liz U. Gron, and Jennifer L. Young
Environmental & Chemical Safety Educational Institute, 329 Claiborne Way, Monroe, Georgia 30655, Hendrix College, 1600 Washington Avenue, Conway, Arkansas 72032, and ACS Green Chemistry Institute, 1155 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

1.1. Green Chemistry
1.2. Green Analytical Chemistry
2.Trends in Green Analytical Chemistry
2.1. Greening Pretreatment
2.1.1. Solvent Reduction and Replacement
2.1.2. Solvent Elimination
2.1.3. Derivatization of Molecules and Surfaces
2.2. Greening Signal Acquisition
2.2.1. Spectroscopy
2.2.2. Electrochemistry
2.2.3. Bioanalytical Chemistry
2.3. Greening with Automation and Flow Techniques
2.3.1. Flow Injection Analysis (FIA) and Sequential Flow Injection Analysis (SIA)
2.3.2. Multicommutation
2.4. Green by in-Situ
3.NEMI and Greener Analytical Methods
3.1. Background of NEMI
3.2. Greenness Profiles of Greener Analytical Methods
3.3. Application of Greenness Profiles
3.4. Characteristics of Greener Analytical Methods in NEMI
6.References[Full text in html]
[Full text in pdf]
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

The Introduction:
"For over 10 years, the green chemistry movement has been promoting ways to reduce the risks of chemical use to humans and the environment. An important goal is to develop increasingly environmentally benign chemistries. A relatively underexamined area of green chemistry is analytical chemistry. However, analytical methods are not easily identified as being environmentally benign. Assessment requires careful examination of often complex analytical methodologies within the context of green chemistry. This article attempts to examine qualitatively the scope of green analytical chemistry with a survey of the recent analytical literature to discern common green analytical chemistry themes while creating, and applying, a more quantitative approach to existing environmental methodologies. The authors set forth some basic characteristics, or "acceptance criteria", to which analytical methods should conform in order to be called "green." The application of these criteria, applied to over 800 methods in the National Environmental Methods Index (NEMI), the largest available database of environmental analytical methods, is discussed herein."

I feel this is entirely correct. During the past 8 years I have rarely seen articles within the Green Chemistry arena which have dealt with or suggest mechanisms to link these two areas of chemistry. Although the references list is extensive these merely take snapshot views of particular cases rather than the broader strategic view of the area, it is indeed true the area is relatively unexplored. Moreover for efforts to begin to standardise the greenness of the analysis (as opposed to to the ad-hoc methods currently used) is rarer still. This could be the first such attempt, or estimation of what would be involved, although perhaps the authors of the article Young et al. would be able to provide more information at a later date in subsequent articles?

This is very topical for me at the moment. My recent take up of a role within the biofuels arena, has directly led me to apply analytical chemistry to monitor specifications in the commercial environment (Quality Control/Assurance and process monitoring / process optimisation, this relates to real time monitoring of chemical reaction industrial-processes, and is a fundamental ideal of Green Chemistry). The case is that in the commercial situation these are often the applying of standard-equipment and analytical packages that other organisations generate specifically for that application (example: gas chromatography - Perkin-Elmer or Varian applied to product streams). For example: EN 14214 relating to Biodiesel which I have been working with recently, smaller enterprises don't have the time to generate there own systems until much later after start up and then to put them in place, they are often reliant on the companies providing analytical packages (same examples: Perkin-Elmer or Varian) to provide the environmentally conscious solutions for them and to do so cost effectively. Moreover in the era where energy effectiveness is also critical, such considerations should also include comprehensive energy minimisation as a requirement. It should be noted that this entire Green Analytical Methodologies area also relates closely to the ideals of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) (*alternative reference*) in my opinion, there is potential that GLP could be one driver for GAM uptake within the laboratory.

This would be via the traditional routes where the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) as well as International standards organisations (such as ISO) could generate the "environmentally conscious" testing regimes where the analytical apparatus providers could then utilise their expertise to rapidly improve the area. There are numerous other layers of organisations that could act here although are not specifically mentioned, such as the US EPA and the European and international equivalents whom also provide vital functions in the area, including establishment of databases for ease of use.

The input of standards here is crucial since the debate is often had particularly with those not familiar with GC is: "what is green?", is it not just another buzz word?
I'm frequently involved in debate going either way as to if a technique or process - IS actually green or not and have to regularly explain how professionals measure if it is or is not.. It's the process of proving the "green" tag and therefore the degree of economic/environmental/social acceptability that many people are not familiar with, or are cynical about. For me adopting a similar approach to that used in intellectual property and "the state of the art" and having improvements over "the art" go far in justifying the tag "green". This is the rule of thumb that should probably be encouraged as it's one the public would most understand, in my personal view.

The "Greenness Profiles of Greener Analytical Methods" section, goes some way to debate and approach quantifiable methods to quantify the issue, in a manner similar to the approaches used in analysis of process chemistry and application (in the most basic sense), the "Green Chemistry Metrics". Further debate and their wider roll out to industry is ongoing.

In summary, this area will continue to grow since this uses the basic principle of establishing of "doing more with less", but doing so such that the materials and apparatus are having the minimal impact in the wider sense. The area is still in its infancy relative to other areas of green chemistry, but will become much more important as methods of monitoring impacts move outward to society at large.

One only has to see the potential for "smart metering" (relating to the "polluter pays principle") to see that such packages could have commercial success, since in order to be green identification of the issues is necessary in the first place, causing industries' and societies greater reliance on advanced analytical chemistry. Green Analytical Methodologies will have significant impacts on their development and will be a further driver towards Green Chemistry and scientific/technological development in general.

Green Chemistry: The cynical perspective

The excellent and informative Richard Van Noorden, writer for Chemistry World magazine this week delved into recent criticisms of green chemistry - in terms of criticisms on the quality of some research and many other contentious issues. He also alludes to many of the issues I recently raised in the previous post - these I've encountered in particular emanating from certain quarters of our American friends or members of the traditional circles of chemistry therein.
Image Copyright © 2007 MC Reid
I believe that this is due to the overly politicised nature of the "green" agenda in the US and also primarily since the "green chemistry" programme (in its origins, began with the US EPA through the 1990 Pollution Prevention Act) has ironically not made as much impact in the US educational system as it has in Europe or Asia and elsewhere. For this reason many, many misconceptions are around on the western side of the Atlantic, as to the fundamental nature of Green Chemistry. This is slowly turning, although marketing (see: Joel Makower's recent post of green marketing and green consumerism), has slowly caused a small level of erosion as to the quality and meaning of the term "Green", people believe and possibly are correct that its some sort of spin and by attaching the label too widely we are causing a devaluation to the term.

Then we have (unavoidable when talking about human beings) groups within the area of Green Chemistry whom are politicking over the subject at large.... this is unavoidable in a discipline as broad as this is and is not without precedent in Chemistry, Physics or Biology or indeed all of academia in it's long history.

The erosion will only be repaired by a returning to the fundamental understanding of the term "Green", and in my opinion through education of the way in which we measure Green - the so called Green Chemistry Metrics. This way all Chemists, scientists and engineers are talking about the same parameters and have a shared goal with regard to a shared vision for future developments.

For our US friends we should continue to remind those unfamiliar or cynical (of which there are still some) that - Green Chemistry is about thinking strategically, something that is often missing in the traditional realm of synthetic organic chemistry or any other area of chemistry for that matter It enables development in areas where industry may be unwilling to take risks in, but are keen to come on board after its more firmly established.

This can only be a good thing for research, industry and consumer?

Personally, I agree whole heatedly with Martyn Poliakoff's (University of Nottingham) brief points. More people involved means more potential conflict of ideas in the area. This is much like a metaphor for the issues being like a stock market "correction" to a slight drift in the discipline, rather than a stock market "crash" of green chemistry at large.

His point highlights I think the unavoidable fact, that Green - is not black or white... it is not either "yes" or "no" in answer to it being a green process or having a zero environmental impact (in one or all of its life-cycle stages). Such a thing is undoubtedly an impossibility in any event, it is actually - finding and choosing option that is more green than "x" or "y" alternative.

Indeed the fact that people think that green means essentially no impact and that this could ever be the case, is not all that surprising. We have to think relativistically, there are shades of green and its up to the skilled chemist - skilled Green Chemist to think strategically and make the right choices or come to the correct conclusions. Metrics are the means to do this, but being multidisciplinary in origin are not in the orthodoxy-chemist educational area. For this we are seeing this ensuing debate in academia, but for those willing to learn even the basics its a huge opportunity.

On some of the issues of having an aqueous waste difficult to treat or clean up, or that using renewable resources that may be more harmful than existing methods, I simply respond - that no one ever said that we should adopt a one size fits all policy. Some of the research being talked about (my own included I must admit), is a curiosity in its own right and was unknown previously. It may be unfeasible in part with certain current technology - but who is to say that given some time these issues aren't insurmountable? Even if it is not utilised directly by industry it has the potential to lead onto future developments of their own - IF we think strategically. We should avoid micromanaging the research. Unless we do the work we may never know and we should think that even unsuccessful research tells us something that is worth knowing. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes once had something to say worth keeping in mind relating to this topic.
For those interested the Chemistry World article is given below in full with links to the original source:
Keeping it green
25 May 2007
Some chemistry enthusiastically labelled as green may be nothing of the kind, warn researchers who worry that mediocre - if well-meaning - science is damaging their subject.
Supporting green chemistry sounds like a no-brainer. Who wouldn't want to promote sustainable, cleaner chemical processes and products, less hazardous to humans and the environment, and providing economic benefits to industry? Indeed, since growing pains in the 1990s, when the subject was sometimes dismissed as a 'soft' buzzword, green chemistry has flourished. The field is now helpfully focused on 12 principles invented by Paul Anastas, at Yale University, US, and John Warner, of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, US. Its research is published in dedicated journals such as Green Chemistry and Clean- with another, Green Chemistry Letters & Reviews, launching this year. International green chemistry prizes are awarded to academic and industrial researchers for developing new processes, solvents and catalysts, and, in the UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences research council has directly targeted £2 million this year at green and sustainable chemistry.

Unfortunately, this welcome bandwagon of support has attracted research which trots out green claims without sufficient thought. 'Often new chemistry technology labelled as green is, on closer analysis, not so environmentally friendly,' sums up Andrew Wells, head of green chemistry R&D at AstraZeneca. Wells recently co-authored a paper in Angewandte Chemie pointing out that water - apparently a safe and environmentally friendly solvent - is not always so green: in reactions catalysed by small organic molecules, the final waste-stream of water contaminated with organics may be difficult and costly to clean up.1 Similarly, says Walter Leitner, editor of Green Chemistry, using a renewable feedstock may not make a reaction greener, if the new process turns out to be inefficient, hazardous, or hard to clean up.
Look before you leap
It might seem surprising that green chemists need to point this out. 'It is obvious that an improvement in one single aspect does not necessarily result in a more sustainable process,' says Leitner. But the problem, green chemists agree, is that researchers just aren't bothering to check whether greening one area of a chemical process may create problems further down the line.
'What you often see is single issue sustainability (SIS) - as in, "I eliminated the nasty solvent so things are now better,"' laments Eric Beckmann, of the University of Pittsburgh, US. Ideally, he says, researchers should take a holistic view from the outset, considering their proposal's impact on an entire chemical process via so-called life cycle analysis (LCA). 'Not including the LCA is not purposely done; people often just think naively that if you don't know, it doesn't matter,' says Istvan Horvath, chairman of a European group aiding cooperation in green and sustainable chemistry.
At its worst, says Ken Seddon, leader in the field of ionic liquids at Queen's University Belfast, UK, this 'ignorance is bliss' approach has led to whole fields of inquiry labelled 'green' without qualification. Ionic liquid solvents are a cautionary tale, says Seddon. Because of their low volatility they were often generically classed as green; a lazy tag which aided a media-hyped backlash against the salts when some were found to be toxic. In reality, Seddon says, ionic liquids are just useful solvents which can be designed to be benign (even edible) if required.
Green agenda
Ill-conceived research is hardly unique to green chemistry, but it may be especially damaging to the subject, which remains fragile in academia with little direct funding available, especially in the US. Seddon says that publications referring to green chemistry have peaked and are on the decline. He feels that researchers may avoid framing their work in green chemistry terms, afraid that the term has become devalued. 'Referees do see red when they see the word "green",' Horvath agrees. Many scientists practise aspects of green chemistry without mentioning the field at all, of course: for example, when inventing new efficient catalysts. But in these cases, the important holistic focus on a full LCA is easily left behind.
Yet to focus on criticisms is unhelpful, says Martyn Poliakoff, who works on supercritical carbon dioxide at the University of Nottingham, UK. 'Ever since green chemistry began there has been a certain self-righteousness among those who are already doing green chemistry. This is a fundamentally wrong approach. Of course sometimes people claim green things which aren't green - just as they claim things are new which aren't new,' he says, pointing out that attracting more people to think about green chemistry is the key aim.
'Even an ungreen process can be an advance on something horrific,' he says; as Horvath agrees, a new process need not be absolutely green, but only relatively greener than its predecessor.
Admittedly, it is unreasonable to expect new research to 'green' a whole process life cycle. But green chemistry protectors say they just want a little more hard thought and honesty. A thorough LCA isn't expected, since it's too complex and time-consuming. And even simplified metrics will favour different processes, depending on which aspects are seen as most worth greening.
'But people should at least go through the motions of talking about metrics. I would prefer nebulous honesty: "this process is better on some metrics and worse on others,"' says Beckmann.
Stop the rot
Why aren't chemists already fulfilling such a simple request? The cynic might suggest that some are only terming their research 'green' to curry political favour or funding, though John Whittall, of the UK's chemistry and innovation knowledge transfer network, says UK grant applicants are encouraged to give some metric justification for their green claims.
The greatest problem, says Terry Collins, director of the Institute for green oxidation chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, US, is lack of education. 'Chemists, remarkably, are not trained in toxicity and ecotoxicity,' he says, so they don't grasp the importance of these properties. A recent Berlin meeting on ionic liquids, for example, concluded that toxicity information was key to helping chemists design benign solvents; and agreed on the need for a database listing the ions contributing to toxicity.
Beyond green: ionic liquids are finding a range of applications, including the synthesis of inorganic materials

Warner wants chemists to take courses in toxicology, environmental mechanisms of harm, and law and policy. He points out that society and industry alike expect scientists to appreciate these issues.
Another difficulty is that academic green chemists may feel metrics are the preserve of engineers or industrial chemists; which is a pity, says Seddon, as the aims of green chemistry are best realised in industrial processes. There are scores of industrial green chemistry success stories to tell.
Last year's AstraZeneca green chemistry award, for example, went to chemists at Pfizer who transformed the organic synthesis of pregabalin, a drug to treat neuropathic pain, into a process that could be performed entirely in water, with the key synthetic step carried out by an enzyme - saving around 15 million gallons of solvent a year. Unlike the reactions criticised by Wells, this enzymatic system does not see organics carried into the waste stream.
Helping handsFor industry, the drive to economise means that green chemistry processes were discovered long before the field's academic principles were invented. But industrial green chemistry is still informed by academia. In 2005, the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute and global pharmaceutical corporations formed a green chemistry roundtable, to encourage academics to meet industrial need. They have recently published a paper on key research areas: 'one of our goals is to inform and influence the research agenda, to steer academics to work on chemistry that does need greening,' says Wells, a roundtable member.2
Anastas and Horvath will publish a concept paper this month that surveys the progress in green chemistry. They agree that green chemists are only just beginning to identify the most important research questions.3 The long-term aim, perhaps, is to incorporate green thinking into mainstream chemistry, rather than fencing it into a specialised field. Fighting green chemistry's corner against muddied thinking is also crucial. 'What green chemistry needs is honesty and high-quality science,' says Horvath. But Beckmann is worried that the subject may soon be dominated by climate change, with its insistence on reducing carbon emissions at the potential cost of anything else green.
Despite these challenges, Anastas remains hopeful for green chemistry's prospects, especially in developing countries. 'In China, India, and Africa, these folks are concerned with green chemistry innovation,' he says. 'Like them, I'm a strategic optimist: I've chosen to be optimistic because pessimism doesn't get you anywhere.'
Richard Van Noorden
This article is a preview from Chemistry World's June 2007 edition

1. D G Blackmond et al, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2007, 46, 37982

2. D J C Constable et al, Green Chem., 2007, DOI:10.1039/b703488c3
3. P Anastas and I T Horvath, Chem. Rev., 2007, in press

Mark C R is at present working in the biofuels sector in the north west of England (UK).