6 ways Green Chemistry can save the Earth

Nidhi Sharma

Nidhi Sharma

Sep 30, 2020 . Must read     

What is Green Chemistry?

Our planet has enough for everyone’s needs. But as we evolved and started developing newer technologies, new requirements rose. To meet these new requirements green chemistry has helped us a lot. It has helped us tap the renewable and non-renewable sources of energy alike. Chemists have been working on new inventions and discoveries to meet new demands and requirements of people.

Our actions impact nature in one way or the other. These effects can be positive or negative. The use of fossil fuels, deforestation, water, and air ill-use has resulted in well established negative effects on the environment. These have contributed to the biggest challenges faced by humans today.

To create a sustainable future for humans, scientists need to come up with technology that helps us meet the need for billions of people. Through scientific research and green chemistry, our scientists can help us clean up the planet and maintain no pollution policy. Cost, safety, and performance are three core sectors where green chemistry can help ace the future of sustainable growth.

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Some sectors where green chemistry can help save the Earth:

Energy Storage and Transportation

The increasing use of renewable energy has helped us achieve a balance of some kind. Soon, the problem of storage and transport is foreseen. We can tap solar energy at 3% landmass of the whole earth to produce energy for the people on Earth. This is a great achievement. This can be achieved if these high-value photovoltaic cells are situated in the deserts near the equator. This gives rise to a new problem of transportation and storage of the produced energy. As the sun doesn’t shine for 24 hours, we are required to keep a buffer for 12 hours of energy at all times.

This problem cannot be solved with the help of just good batteries made from existing technology. We can transport fossil fuels from one place to another today. Soon, fuels like hydrogen, methane, or ammonia will be required. These requirements can be met with the help of green chemistry scientists only. New materials for batteries and transport containers need to be built.

Fertilizer Production in Future

Today we all are worried about chemicals ending up in our bodies due to the high use of fertilizers in farm production. These fertilizers and chemicals have helped us achieve food sufficiency in the past but overuse of these chemicals is now harming humans. Now we require a solution for this menace created by us.

Ammonia is a major chemical used in the production of fertilizers. Its mass production was a breakthrough in the production of fertilizers. Today we are searching for renewable sources of ammonia production. This will help us reduce the carbon footprint of fertilizer production. For the production of ammonia water is a major requirement. The scarcity of water has posed major obstacles in the production of ammonia through other routes. We hope that scientists will be able to find a solution to the problem through green chemistry.

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Electric Vehicles

Today we are looking for every possible way out of these traffic-filled cities. To make these cities cleaner and lesser traffic, electric vehicles are the best solution out. Better energy storage solutions are required to make this possible. We have been able to find very good electric vehicle solutions but we still need to research better solutions to change fossil fuel-driven vehicles to electric vehicles.

Further progress is required in lithium and oxygen technology or sulfur will help progress to new technology. Fuel-cell vehicles generating energy from hydrogen are penetrating the market at a rapid speed. Fuel cells still work on the highly expensive raw material. Research in green chemistry is still required to meet the rising demands of humans.

Hidden Energy Storage

The chemical industry is a great player in the energy market. Supply and demand can be used to increase or decrease the energy release from the grid. These grids can also act as energy storage.

Chemicals today are produced in several steps. Some chemicals require more steps than others. A very energy-efficient method of saving energy is processing the chemicals when energy or sun is available and storing it for further process. This helps in storing the energy of the chemical. This straightway transforms into using less energy in free times. This means leaving energy for the rest of the grid to use. Storing chemicals in large containers is more cost-effective as compared to evolving and setting up complex energy storage.

Such practices become useful and cost-effective when we meet the cost of economies. Concentrated efforts are required from both chemical and energy industries to reform the market. Governments can help break down tax and provide subsidies to help companies become flexible.

Rare Materials to rescue

LED lightbulbs consume very less electricity as compared to traditional light modes. The semiconductor industry has been able to transform the light industry. Chemical Gallium nitride forms the basis of the semiconductor industry. It comes along another challenge for the industry. Gallium is quite rare on this Earth. Gallium is used in a very less amount in the LEDs which looks good from the face of it. The less amount of gallium in LEDs is very difficult to recycle.

This issue will become the bottleneck in the process in near future. Similar problems have arisen with noble metals such as platinum. Platinum is used as a catalyst in the filtration process of petrol and diesel and also in the electrodes of fuel.

Improving Paint performance 

Paint uses a great number of chemicals in production. Green chemistry has been able to reduce the carbon footprint of paint production. Titanium dioxide an active ingredient of paint is expensive as well and energy-intensive to produce. It is a base pigment in the paints. Research is ongoing in this field to find greener chemical reactions. New chemical compounds are being developed to ensure less use of titanium dioxide in the making. The product quality improved and the costs cut down was possible. Through the newly developed technology, the carbon footprint was cut down by 22%, and 30% less water was consumed.

This world is moving at a high pace. We all know that we need to cope with the cost of manufacturing and the impact of growth on this Earth. Our Earth has been bearing the load of our growth. We should understand the call of the hour and work on the same. Research should be focused on healing this world. Becoming an Engineer comes with a lot of responsibility. Your efforts must not end at JEE Mains exam. You must keep on striving for a better world everyday through your hard work and efforts. You must understand your responsibility as a citizen and as an engineer towards this world. 

Green chemistry will be able to help us achieve the sustainable results we want to achieve in near future. It will become the foundation for a circular economy since it will be able to achieve no-waste use of natural sources. The high aimed goals we wish to achieve in the future can only be achieved with green chemistry. These terms can be a problem for people who are not from the technical background might find it difficult to understand these terms. But this is where the future lies. You should understand a bit about these and these sectors will become high investment sectors in the future.