In everyday perception, the term chemistry only refers to the manufacture of products in the chemical industry. On the other hand, products that contain only natural substances or that are made from renewable raw materials are often considered to be free of chemicals. But this assumption is not quite correct. Chemistry is a science that deals with the construction and transformation of matter, whether natural or synthetic. According to this scientific definition also natural substances belong to the chemical substances. Therefore, no product is free from chemistry. However, natural substances are embedded in the natural cycle, which is characterized by a constant build-up and degradation of the substances.
The concept of green chemistry is now also based on the everyday concept of chemistry. However, here are the products and their production environmentally friendly and bio-based. Renewable raw materials serve as a basis for this green chemistry. In contrast to conventional chemistry, green chemistry is no longer a one-way street. It is sustainable chemistry, which is an important prerequisite for the circular economy. The goal of Green Chemistry is to produce in an environmentally friendly manner, to reduce pollution, save energy and reduce the risks that can arise from product and production.
To achieve these ambitious goals, the two American chemists Anastas and Warner set up twelve basic principles of green chemistry. These basic principles relate to the nature of the raw materials, the efficiency of the production process and the environmental and health compatibility of the substances produced.
Anastas and Warner therefore developed the following criteria for sustainable chemistry:
• In chemical production, environmental pollution should be avoided. For this purpose, the chemical syntheses and chemical plants must be changed accordingly.
• In addition, products are to be produced which, for the same benefit, have a lower health risk for humans.
• In general, care should be taken to produce less hazardous substances for humans and the environment.
• Renewable resources are to be used increasingly.
• The increased use of catalysts is also required to make the reactions more effective.
• The chemical processes must be changed in such a way that they proceed as far as possible with little intermediate steps.
• Another basic principle is the increase in atomic efficiency. It is important that the reactions convert as much of the starting material as possible into the desired end product and that undesired substances do not even form.
• Furthermore, the application of safe solvents is required. Auxiliaries should be avoided if possible.
• It is also very important to increase energy efficiency.
• Furthermore, biologically and chemically degradable substances and products are to be produced. Again, care must be taken to ensure that no environmentally harmful substances are produced during the degradation process.
• Pollution should be prevented by monitoring, controlling and controlling production processes.
• Finally, measures must be taken to minimize the risk of accidents.
There are already some examples of the use of green chemistry. Thus, green solvents such as supercritical carbon dioxide are used in various fields. Some chemicals are produced within the framework of bioengineering within microorganisms. From some renewable raw materials, important chemicals are already being produced by pyrolytic decomposition.