A toolkit is a "must" for doing repairs around the house. As someone who lives in a 65-year-old house, where something always needs to be fixed, I have toolkits for different kinds of repair work. The plumbing toolbox got a workout during the last few days, thanks to the rain that is drenching the Washington, D. C. area.
Naturally enough, one session at the 10th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference caught my eye today. Entitled "Stocking the Green Chemistry Toolbox," it was devoted to tools that chemists and chemical engineers can use to develop the cleaner, safer, more sustainable reactions that are the hallmark of green chemistry. Organized by the GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable, the session focused specifically on the pharmaceutical industry.
Liquids were on the agenda − and it was not the rain pouring down outside the Capital Hilton hotel on 16th Street, a few blocks from the White House. It turns out that the pharmaceutical industry uses a tremendous volume of solvents − various liquids that dissolve other materials − to manufacture drugs. In his presentation, C. Stewart Slater, Ph.D. professor of chemical engineering at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., estimated that it takes up to 1,760 pounds of solvent to manufacture 2.2 pounds of certain medications. And organic solvents account for about 80 percent of the wastes in a typical drug manufacturing process.
Slater discussed a solvent selection toolkit that has gone into use in the pharmaceutical industry. This guide contains information on a range of solvents, usually customized for the specific solvents used at each individual company. It provides information on solvents to use to make a manufacturing process "green," for instance. Solvents to avoid. Solvents’ environmental impact. Health and safety issues associated with specific solvents.
David J. C. Constable, of GlaxoSmithKline in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, put the FLASC toolkit on display. Make that: Fast Lifecycle Assessment for Synthetic Chemistry.
FLASC is a Web-based application that allows bench chemists to perform streamlined evaluations of the life cycle environmental impacts of new or existing processes. FLASC allows scientists and managers to assess eight different life cycle environmental impact categories associated with materials used in synthetic routes or manufacturing processes.
The categories include energy required, mass of material needed, and the total amount of waste generated in a synthesis. By using FLASC, companies can quickly identify ways to reduce those impacts and use the greenest possible option.
Drug companies are using green toolkits from the start of the product pipeline in R&D laboratories to the finish in the consumer’s medicine chest. As new drugs emerge from the pipeline, designers and managers use toolkits like WRAP. That’s the Wizard for the Rapid Assessment of Packaging, a green packaging guide that incorporates environmental impact into new packaging designs.
Paul Anastas, director of the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute, dropped by for some of the toolbox presentations. Paul, the undisputed Father of Green Chemistry, could be seen standing in the back of the meeting room, nodding in appreciation as the toolboxes went on display.