Experiments in green and sustainable chemistry

Experiments in green and sustainable chemistry

H W Roesky and D K Kennepohl (eds) 

Weinheim, Germany: Wiley VCH  283pp | 307pp | ?29.95 (HB) 

ISBN 9783527325467 

Reviewed by Andrew Abbott 


Let’s face it, what made most of us into chemists were the thrills of the hydrogen/oxygen explosion or the voluminous clouds of smoke emanating from the reaction of white phosphorus with air. However, in the 21st century the image of the chemist as a devil-may-care environmental polluter has got to change. The tree-hugging green chemistry union (of which I am a proud card holder) is finally coming to the fore. However, the majority of chemistry graduates today see surprisingly few of the new techniques, particularly in the undergraduate laboratory. 

That is why this book is brilliant! It has seen a huge deficiency in the market and plugged it with a clear winner. This book brings together 46 simple experiments, each written by recognised experts, that clearly and simply demonstrate the novel green chemistry principles which should, in my opinion, be in every undergraduate course.

The experiments are split into five sections: catalysis, solvents, high yield and one-pot syntheses, limiting waste and exposure, and special topics. The experiments are also not only limited to organic synthesis but include such variety as quantum dot nanoparticle preparation, biogas production and a demonstration of the greenhouse effect. Each experiment is 4-8 pages long and clearly describes the relevant equipment, chemicals and safety instructions. 

What will make this book an instant winner is that the experiments could be transcribed into almost any undergraduate course. In what is either an oversight or an intentional omission to make the students think, the experiments do not describe in great detail the aspects of green chemistry being demonstrated. A suggestion for the guaranteed second edition is that a chapter on the Green Chemistry Principles, upon which the book is based, should be included. Notwithstanding, I will ensure that many of these experiments make it into our courses.