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USING GREEN CHEMISTRY FROM THE ONSET TO IMPROVE AND AID PROCESS DEVELOPMENT
Gonzalez*, M A. AND R L. Smith*. USING GREEN CHEMISTRY FROM THE ONSET TO IMPROVE AND AID PROCESS DEVELOPMENT. Presented at AIChE 2004 Process Development Symposium, Chicago, IL, June 20 - 23, 2004.
To inform the public
The twelve principles of green chemistry provide a foundation and pathway which allows researchers to incorporate greenness into existing reactions or when developing new technologies. Research from our laboratory has adopted many of these principles and utilizes them as a major component of our research philosophy. Some of the principles incorporated include atom economy, green catalyst development, elimination of waste and by-product formation and energy conservation to name a few.
The area of selective oxidation of hydrocarbons is one that can strongly benefit from the philosophy of green chemistry. This industry experiences costs, both environmental and monetary, which are associated with excessive energy demands for maintaining reaction conditions, feed stream recycle and product separation steps. Additional pitfalls include toxicological concerns of any employed solvents and/or catalysts and resource depletion due to low reaction efficiencies and non-selective product formation. In an effort to demonstrate the potential of a green oxidation catalyst, research into the selective partial oxidation of hydrocarbons into their respective partial oxygenates at mild reaction conditions was undertaken.
Although improvements to the catalyst and reaction chemistry are extremely important for increasing the efficiency of a reaction, one must evaluate all aspects of the entire reaction. This optimization of reaction variables can lead to experiencing the full benefit of any process improvements. This approach begins the evolution of a green chemical reaction into one that has an increased level of sustainability. The sustainability of the reaction can now be expressed in energy savings, reaction efficiency, environmental impact and process economics (costs).
The USEPA's Office of Research and Development is performing research into the development of green catalysts which use molecular oxygen for the oxidation of saturated hydrocarbons. In addition, this research has been directed to involve a multidisciplinary approach of chemistry and chemical engineering from the onset of the research project. It is intended this approach will no only evolve a green chemical technology but also produce a technology that can provide improvements to a chemical process/operations. To be presented is an example of a green oxidation pathway, which demonstrates improvements to the chemical reaction, as well as the benefits to the process development which are incurred as a result of the improved reaction conditions and catalyst activity.