27.11.2015

Green Chemistry Principle 8 | Reduce Derivatives

Reduce Derivatives is Principle 8 of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.

Derivatization is defined as the use of blocking groups, protection/de-protection, and temporary modification of physical/chemical processes.  It should be minimized or avoided because derivatization require additional reagents and can generate waste. So says Peter J Dunn, Green Chemistry Lead at Pfizer.

Twelve principles of green chemistry

Not being a chemist, I’m struggling to understand the principle to reduce derivatives particularly as it seems to relate more to drugs than coatings. I’ll just summarise the article by Peter Dunn as concluding that by using this principle and using enzymes, 6-APA, an important drug ingredient, can be created by a greener process.

As more than 10,000 metric tons of 6-APA is made every year this is a great example of the effective use of the principle to reduce derivatives.

On another note entirely, it is interesting to read that up to about 14.5% of greenhouse gasses come from the animal agriculture sector. Surprisingly this is more than the transportation industry. Not all the greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide but even so, it is not possible to fix global warming without fixing carbon dioxide. The other gas emitted from ruminants is methane which is harder hitting but dissipates more quickly. If methane can be reduced then this could buy us some more time to achieve our Global Warming target of not less than 2 degrees.

A pill for cows to stop them emitting so much methane is in development. And one idea in New Zealand, which cause howls of derision at the time, was what became known as the “Fart Tax” – taxing the methane produced by animals. We didn’t understand then what we know now.

However, the real point – and one that is hard for some to take – is that we should change our diets. We should each much less meat or none at all and turn to more plant-based food. That will be easy for some and not so easy for others – not sure how well it would go down with our Texan manufacturers.

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