Advancing Green Chemistry has recently been invited to speak at several universities in the Charlottesville area. Most recently, AGC staff member, Mana Sassanpour, gave a presentation on the 12 principles of green chemistry to undergraduates at the University of Virginia. In the presentation she showed examples that the students are familiar with from their own classes and lives.
For example, principle number 5: ‘Using safer solvents and reaction conditions’. UVA undergrads use DMSO and ether as solvents in many organic chemistry labs – often without ever knowing how harmful and toxic these substances are. By showing them that pharmaceuticals that used to use similar solvents are now using water as a replacement, Mana showed how to positively alter reaction conditions. In addition, her presentation opened students to an emerging field of chemistry: mechanochemistry. Mechanochemistry does not use solvents at all, but rather relies on a grinding mechanism to start and push a reaction. This field of chemistry has been applied to the production of pepto-bismol, a compound that everyone is familiar with, making the synthesis solvent-less. The students’ favorite part was the picture of the pepto-bismol ice-cream. Yumm.
Mana’s second lecture at UVA was directed towards the Chemistry Department. This lecture was followed up with a great question and answer session, really engaging the whole audience. For the most part, each participant asked a question, creating a really involved dialogue.
Up next, Mana hopes to lecture at Eastern Mennonite University!