Research in Sustainable Materials Chemistry

Green Chemistry

“Green Chemistry is the utilization of a set of principles that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and application of chemical products.” (Anastas/Warner)

One of the main themes of our research is applying the principles of Green Chemistry to the design and synthesis of materials. This involves a wide range of ideas, including:leaf

  • Biomass resources: particularly abundant structural biopolymers as precursors for ceramics
  • One-pot sol-gel routes to porous or nanostructured materials
  • Earth abundant elements, including platinum replacement
  • Synthesis of catalysts with enhanced properties for a wide range of processes
  • Catalytic graphitization
  • Alternative routes to porous materials than silica templating (i.e. removing the need for HF etching


The Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry

1. It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed.

2. Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

3. Wherever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

4. Chemical products should be designed to preserve efficacy of function while reducing toxicity.

5. The use of auxiliary substances (e.g. solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.

6. Energy requirements should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. Synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.

7. A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting wherever technically and economically practicable.

8. Reduce derivatives – Unnecessary derivatization (blocking group, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification) should be avoided whenever possible.

9. Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

10. Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they do not persist in the environment and break down into innocuous degradation products.

11. Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

12. Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.