Two masters at engaging students rang the opening bell at the 4th annual Summer School on Green Chemistry. Those 50 students didn’t just hear a presentation on the principles of green chemistry by Mary Kirchhoff, Ph.D. They participated in it. Kirchoff, a former assistant director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, presented the 12 guiding principles of green chemistry and engineering.
Then Kirchhoff, who now is acting director of the ACS Education Division, passed the microphone down the rows, encouraging the graduate students and post-doctoral students to add detail and concrete examples from their own knowledge and experience. Kirchhoff, for instance, explained that “atom economy,” is the green chemical principle calling for synthetic methods designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product syntheses. Then she asked the class for concrete examples from their own knowledge. Paul Anastas, Ph.D., director of the Green Chemistry Institute, joined the conversation, taking the microphone to add his own insights and observations.
Kirchhoff provided her own compelling examples of how industry has used the principles of green chemistry to save money and protect the environment. Chemists at Merck & Co., Inc., for instance, developed a green synthesis for Merck’s anti-nausea drug Emend® (aprepitant). Kirchhoff described how the revised synthesis doubled the yield of aprepitant, eliminated 340,000 liters of waste for every ton of product, and reduced the consumption of raw materials by 85 per cent.
The school continues through the weekend. Students were looking forward to next week, when they will attend the 10th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, which begins Monday with announcement of winners of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Students had positive feelings after the first sessions. "It seems very useful, very beneficial in expanding our horizons about green chemistry," said Raj Brahaman, a University of Dayton student. Bogdan Botar, a native of Romania, was making his first visit to Washington. He expected to take home new knowledge of green chemistry and memories of the nation's capitol. "The school also is an opportunity to make a few friends and contacts, and do some networking for the future" said Botar, a postdoc at Emory University in Atlanta.
For more pictures of this event, please visit the event gallery.
Next Event: The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards