LEARNING THE CONCEPT OF “GREEN CHEMISTRY” BY A PRACTICAL APPROACH: APPLICATION OF GREEN METRIC STRATEGIES

B. Socas-Rodríguez 1, R. Rodríguez-Ramos 2, Á. Santana-Mayor 2, M.Á. Rodríguez-Delgado 2

1Institute of Food Science Research (CIAL, CSIC) (SPAIN)
2Universidad de La Laguna (SPAIN)
The awareness of society regarding sustainability and environmental impact of industry and business is growing and getting importance. In this context, the application of approaches such as the “life-cycle-assessment” to evaluate the quality and estimation of the cumulative environmental impacts resulting from all stages in the life cycles of the products generated in these fields, is also increasing. Such aspect is extensible to scientific areas such as chemistry. In fact, the negative impact of this area on the environment and human health has been discussed since the 60s. Based on that, the concept of “green chemistry” emerged at the beginning of the nineties, as a compromise of chemists with the development of sustainable, environmentally friendly and benign to humans’ processes. Then, at the end of the decade the term of “green analytical chemistry” was proposed, as well as the adaptation of the cannons established in green chemistry to the development of green analytical procedures under the “12 Principles of green analytical chemistry” described by the acronym “SIGNIFICANCE”.

Considering the relevance of this aspect on society, a great effort is carried out during the formation of new professionals, especially those closely related to critical procedures in the areas of sciences or engineering. However, in most cases, this learning is focused on theoretical concepts that are not adequately acquired by the students, which make difficult their application in their future careers. That is why, the performance of practical strategies that provide a clear view of the relevance and applicability of the concepts of “sustainability” and “green process” in the development of their work and allow them to learn the mode in which those aspects can be evaluated, is of great importance.

In this work, a practical approach in which students of the master’s degree in chemistry learned how to evaluate the green character of novel analytical methodologies developed at the research laboratories of their own faculty was carried out. In this sense, different methods developed under the framework of green chemistry were assessed by the students using different tools thoroughly selected, under the supervision of professors. The results were evaluated, as well as the impact of the performance of each methodology. Final discussion showed the suitability of this learning strategy to transmit the concept of green chemistry and sustainability to postgraduate students.