Green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is a collection of practices guided by the twelve principles of green chemistry that aim to design chemical products and processes to reduce their environmental impact.
The twelve principles of green chemistry, which cover all areas of chemistry and chemical engineering, apply to the life-cycle of a chemical product from production to disposal. Using the green chemistry approach, products and their manufacture are designed to reduce the need for and production of hazardous substances and energy intensive processes.
The principles of green chemistry cover all stages of production to minimise the overall impact of a product, beginning from designing products that are non-hazardous and are synthesised from renewable feedstock reagents, to processes that use non-hazardous solvents and low energy production strategies. The principles of green chemistry use a “prevention is better than cure” philosophy; by not creating environmentally hazardous materials, the need to process and clean them is removed, improving the overall efficiency of the process and thus reducing the environmental impact of the specific chemical product.
Technology enabling green chemistry
Flow chemistry is ideally suited to meeting the principles of green chemistry; processes are inherently safer with small reaction volumes and lower volumes of solvents and reagents needed. There is low risk of environmental exposure to reagents, and processes can be scaled without the need for re-optimisation.