Ranjini Srikantan, a student of Class 12, was surprised to learn about the advantages of green chemistry – both because there are so many and because she had been unaware about the field for so long. These are the reasons why she feels green chemistry is the future of chemistry.
I came across the concept of Green Chemistry very recently when I was researching for a school project. I was very surprised to realise that that I had been unaware about it all this time, especially because I was applying to colleges hoping to build a career in the field of chemistry.
Green Chemistry, as the term suggests, is a field of chemical engineering that pivots around the design of products and processes with the view towards reducing the usage and creation of hazardous substances.
Considering my shock on learning about a green alternative in the field of chemistry so late, I have now taken it upon myself to inform others about it too. I feel that Green Chemistry is the future of chemistry and here are 5 reasons why:
1. Results in healthier living conditions:
Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr
Pollution is one of our major enemies today. Land, water, air – mankind has disrupted the natural eco-system with the irresponsible use and disposal of chemical laden waste, making the environment perilous. Green Chemistry enforces the substitution of dangerous chemical ingredients used in industrial manufacturing, with green materials.
Decrease in the amount of chemicals released into the air and water leads to lesser toxic environment for workers and healthier conditions for people to thrive in. Additionally, end products also become less harmful and more organic.
2. Is economical and profitable:
Believe it or not, if companies start applying the concepts of Green Chemistry, it will help them slash costs immediately and increase profits. Reduced usage of unnecessary chemicals, fewer synthetic steps, lesser amount of waste and end of the pipe treatment, allow for higher yields, faster manufacturing and increased capacity, resulting in lower costs and higher profits.
3. Encourages creativity in the world of chemistry:
Source: Eric Chan/Flickr
Green Chemistry encourages experts in the field to think out of the box and ideate ways to replace materials that have been used in a particular chemical process for decades. These breakthroughs pave the way to creativity and resourcefulness in chemistry.
A brilliant example is Richard Wool, former director of the Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources (ACRES) program at the University of Delaware. He found a way to create circuit boards using chicken feathers! He used the keratin from chicken feathers to make a light and tough fibre. This resulted in a microchip that works at double the speed! This breakthrough has now gone on to be used in discovering more ways where chicken feathers can be used.
4. Helps avoid tragedies:
We had the Bhopal Gas Tragedy over 30 years ago. Today, we have random lakes catching fire in Bangalore. We can’t possibly wait for more incidents before changing our ways.
5. Is healthy for the environment:
More often than not, chemicals end up affecting plants, animals, the ozone layer, and basically the planet at large. Chemical processes that indulge in the principles of Green Chemistry can in fact change all of this. It propagates the use of green chemicals that either degrade naturally or can be used further as an ingredient for another chemical process.
After learning about the advantages of Green Chemistry, I started an initiative called Go Green With Chemistry, to make more people aware about its existence.
The basic idea is to start a conversation and influence young minds to apply Green Chemistry, whether at home today or in their careers later. I have been spreading knowledge through my website and social media pages. I have also been visiting schools for workshops, where I encourage open discussions about the topic and its practical uses.
Know more about Go Green With Chemistry, here.
– Ranjini Srikantan