Environmental and Green Chemistry

Unit code: CHEM20712
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by School of Chemistry
Available as a free choice unit?: N




 The course unit  aims to:

  • Provide the student with an understanding of the impact which chemistry can have on the environment and of how this impact may be quantified and minimized.
  • Provide an insight into how manufacturing processes can be developed which have a minimal environmental footprint.
  • Highlight recent advances in chemical synthesis which minimize waste and increase overall chemical efficiency.
  • Describe the general composition of the atmosphere and how solar energy drives chemistry, photochemistry and physical transport processes.
  • Describe the theory of classical and state-of-the-art analytical techniques and demonstrates their use in environmental chemistry through case studies.
  • Describe anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere and discuss some key environmental challenges.
  • Highlight how alternative feedstocks can allow access to key chemicals beyond the petrochemical era.


Weeks 1 - 2 Green Chemistry (Dr. A. Pulis, 4 lectures)

  • What is 'Green Chemistry' : environmental issues to be overcome in the 21st century
  • Designing cleaner, more efficient reactions: use of catalysis, enzymes, light and renewable feedstocks
  • Examples of green chemical reactions: from the bench to production.

Weeks 3 - 4 Process Chemistry (Dr. A. Pulis, 3 lectures + workshop)

  • Exemplification of route design and optimization: what makes a good process?
  • Key bond-forming reactions in industrial chemistry: what are the problems?
  • Selected case histories from the pharmaceutical and fine chemicals industries

Weeks 5 - 8 Weeks 9 -11 Novel Feedstocks for Green Chemistry (Dr F. Mair, 6 lectures + workshop) New Sources of Chemicals (Dr. F. S. Mair; 6 lectures):

  • Survey of common materials currently sourced from petrochemicals
  • Discussion of alternative renewable feedstocks to replace petrochemical feedstocks: sugars, lignin, biomass, CO2.

 Weeks 9 -12 Observing the Atmosphere (Dr. P. Gorry, 7 lectures + workshop)

In recent years, it has become evident that temporal changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere on local, regional and global scales need to be measured in detail to facilitate for the development of predictive capability for future climate change. In this short series of lectures, some of the most common methods used to detect the chemical composition of the atmosphere will be described, ranging from localised analytical methods such as GC/MS through regional scale measurements from aircraft to global-scale measurements from satellites. The uses to which such data are put will also be briefly outlined.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures supported by online materials

Learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this unit should have developed the ability to:

Observing the Atmosphere

  • Understand the energy balance of the planet and the atmospheric temperature profile;
  • Understand chemical processes which occur in the atmosphere and relate these observable changes;
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the use of advanced instrumentation for the analysis of atmospheric gasses;

Green Chemistry and Process Chemistry

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the key reactions and processes used in chemical industries;
  • Understand the problems associated with performing large scale chemical syntheses;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the factors which contribute to the design and execution of efficient chemical syntheses.

Pollutants in the Environment

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key facts, concepts, and principles relating to successful atmospheric monitoring;
  • Understand the theory and principals of a range of classical analytical techniques;
  • Understand the theory and principals of select imaging and spectroscopic techniques;
  • Understand anthropogenic contributions to atmospheric pollution ranging from the urban environment to global warming.

Novel Feedstocks

  • Students should be able to identify likely sources of key feedstocks from sources other than petrochemicals
  • Students should be able to apply basic chemical principles which are applied to the harvesting and manipulation of chemical feedstocks.

Intellectual skills

  • Concept assimilation;
  • Problem-solving skills;
  • Analysis and interpretation of data from analytical techniques;
  • Numeric skills;
  • Ability to apply a logical approach to chemical synthesis.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communications skills
  • Numeracy and mathematical skills
  • Analytical skills
  • ICT skills
  • Time management and organisational skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Ethical behaviour

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 100%

Recommended reading

  1. Environmental Analytical Chemistry (2000). Fifield, FW and Haines, PJ. Blackwell Science
  2. X-ray Absorption: Principles, Applications, Techniques of EXAFS, SEXAFS, and XANES (1988). Koningsberger, DC and Prins, R. Wiley Science.
  3. Physical Principals of Electron Microscopy: An Introduction to TEM, SEM, and AFM (2005). Egerton, R. Springer Science.
  4. Radiochemistry and Nuclear Chemistry (3rd Ed.), Gregory R. Choppin, Jan-Olov Liljenzin, Jan Rydberg
  5. The Nuclear Fuel Cycle: from Ore to Wastes, Peter D. Wilson, Oxford University Press, 1996

Feedback methods

  • Pollutants in the Environment: On-line problems and answers; self-test on-line quizzes; the lecturer delivering the material is also available to see students during office hours.
  • Green Chemistry and Process Chemistry: On-line problems and answers; self-test on-line quizzes; the lecturer delivering the material is also available to see students during office hours.
  • Observing the Atmosphere: On-line problems and answers; self-test on-line quizzes; the lecturer delivering the material is also available to see students during office hours
  • New Sources of Chemicals: On-line problems and answers; self-test on-line quizzes; the lecturer delivering the material is also available to see students during office hours.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 2 hours
  • Lectures - 19 hours
  • Practical classes & workshops - 4 hours
  • Independent study hours - 75 hours

Teaching staff

Francis Mair - Unit coordinator

▲ Up to the top