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FOUNDATION YEAR

CHEMISTRY UNIT 1

Green Chemistry in the Laboratory – Answers and Teachers Notes


Considering the concepts of Green Chemistry is important for the environment. We can start thinking about
Green Chemistry principles when we start conducting experiments in the laboratory.
Use the poster available to help you with the 12 Green Chemistry Principles.
When you prepare for practical classes in Chemistry you will be asked to consider safety in the laboratory and
Green Chemistry. In groups consider the following practical scenarios and consider any Green Chemistry
issues that may arise from the experiment. Is there anything Green about the experiment? Is there anything
that is considered not Green? How could the experiment be made greener?
Use the Internet to help you with the following scenarios.

This is not a complete list of answers, students may come up with other suitable Green Chemistry issues. This
activity is designed to help students to start to consider Green Chemistry in the laboratory.

1. Students were asked to make nylon in the laboratory using adipic acid. Students had a choice of using
hexane as the solvent or dichloromethane.
Discuss two Green Chemistry principles associated with this experiment.
• DESIGN FOR DEGRADATION: Nylon is not biodegradable therefore this is not considered
‘Green”
• DESIGNING SAFER CHEMICALS: consideration of environmental fate, nylon is not considered
‘Green”
• SAFER SOLVENTS & AUXILIARIES: Chlorinated solvents are considered more environmentally
damaging
• The source of the adipic acid could be discussed and students may bring up ATOM ECONOMY
and LESS HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL SYNTHESIS

2. Another group of students were asked make a different polymer often used in packaging. They made a
starch film from potatoes.
Discuss two Green Chemistry principles associated with this experiment.
• USE OF RENEWABLE FEEDSTOCKS: Potatoes are easily grown students may mention that
many other polymers come from the petroleum industry.
• DESIGN FOR DEGRADATION: Potato starch polymer can breakdown easily and is
biodegradable.
• LESS HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL SYNTHESIS: In comparison with other polymers such as nylon.

20 April 2018
3. Students were asked to make aspirin in the laboratory. One procedure given involved using a steam bath;
another procedure involved using a microwave.
Which method would be considered to be in line with Green Chemistry principles? Discuss with your
group.

DESIGN FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY: A microwave used a lot less energy. Reactions are often done in a
shorter time. Consider what happens when you cook food in a microwave.

4. Students were asked to determine the concentration of iron in a sample of using a titration with potassium
permanganate. What could be any non-Green issues with this experiment? Could the experiment be
modified or could an alternative experiment be conducted?

Potassium permanganate has environmental issues and is toxic to aquatic organisms. The amount of
steel wool could be reduced, therefore reducing the amount/concentration of potassium permanganate
used.
The concentration of iron could be determined using other methods, including AAS.