Chemistry via the medical revolution has greatly improved the quality of human life raising the life expectancy from 47 years in the 1900s to over 80 years in 2019 thereby increasing the human population to an estimated 7.8 billion. The consequent increased demand for food and energy has led to massive global industrialization and materialization. As initially the manufacturers were concerned with only the successful production, the growing use and complexity of chemicals, as well as the application of synthetic amendments in agriculture since the industrial revolution, began causing environmental pollution which grew into global transboundary problems affecting human health and well-being. Eventually, humans developed concents regarding the control of the waste stream as well as the impact of chemicals on health and the environment. Despite major growth in renewable energy over the past decade, global GHG emissions too kept rising, as human demand for fossil fuels also simultaneously increased (Figure 3.2). All of this demonstrates the urgency in relying completely on all clean energy solutions as well as improving the efficiency, investment, and innovations meant for curbing emissions and capturing carbon.

Global power capacity trend by source between 2009 and 2018

FIGURE 3.2 Global power capacity trend by source between 2009 and 2018.

Source: This figure is drawn based on selected information provided by IRENA in 2019 and REN21 in 2019.


The Pollution Prevention Act (also called the P2 Act) of 1990, established as a national policy of the United States, was developed with an intention to limit the creation of pollution at the source through improved design (including cost-effective changes in products and processes as well as in the use of raw materials) rather than monitoring and clean up. As per the Act, the pollution that cannot be prevented should be either recycled or else treated in an environmentally safe maimer whenever possible, and that disposal or release into the environment must be sought only as a last resort and that too must be conducted in an environmentally safe maimer. The idea of green chemistry was initially developed as a response to this Act authored by the EPA. It applies fundamental principles from all chemical disciplines including organic, inorganic, analytical, biochemistry, and even physical chemistry to develop chemical products that are inherently less toxic than currently existing products. A research giant program launched by the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics by 1991 encouraged the redesigning of chemical products and designs in a way that was less toxic to human health as well as the environment. During the early 1990s, EPA along with United States National Science Foundation began to fund basic research in green chemistry. Another key driver for the development of green chemistry was the annual US Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

Awards Program. Established in 1995, it drew attention to fundamental breakthroughs in green chemistry success stories at both the academic and industrial levels. In 1997, the Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) was formed to advance the growth of green chemistry and green engineering. Later in 2001, the GCI became a part of the American Chemical Society. The mid-to-late 1990s also witnessed an increase in the number of international meetings devoted to green chemistry such as the Gordon Research Conferences on Green Chemistry, and green chemistry networks developed in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy. Green chemistry was first defined by Paul Anastas and John Warner in 1998 as, “the utilization of a set of principles that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture, and application of chemical products.” Although seemingly intuitive, they clearly explained the 12 principles of green chemistry (Box 3.1) that helped the chemists and chemical engineers to apply the principles of sustainability to their research.44 The rate of green chemistry patent applications and the new green technologies emerging have been increasing. In 1999, the Royal Society of Chemistry launched the journal Green Chemistry which provides a platform for the publication of innovative research on the development of alternative green technologies. Green chemistry concepts have continued to gain popularity, and in 2005, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded jointly to Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs, and Richard R. Schrock, “for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis.” This represented a great step forward for green chemistry, by reducing potentially hazardous wastes through smarter production. In 2018, Frances H. Arnold won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the directed evolution of enzymes, a technique that she has pioneered to pursue new avenues within gr een chemistry. The application of her results included the greener manufacturing of chemical substances such as pharmaceuticals as well as the production of renewable fuels. Though green chemistry has been tremendously successful so far in producing chemical products that are inherently less toxic, it still holds plenty of room for improvement.

BOX 3.1 Principles of Green Chemistry

Principles of Green Chemistry

1. It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created

2. Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product

3. Wherever practicable, less hazardous chemical synthesis must be designed

BOX 3.1 (Continued)

Principles of Green Chemistry

4. Designing safer chemical

5. The use of auxiliary substances should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used

6. Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for then environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized

7. Use of renewable feedstock

8. Reduce unnecessary derivatizatiou

9. Catalytic reagents are superior to stoichiometric reagents

10. Chemical products at the end of then function should be designed for degradation

11. Real-time analysis for pollution prevention

12. Inherently safer chemistry for accident prevention


Green engineering involves the design, development, and commercialization of industrial processes and products that are economically feasible. It minimizes the generation of pollution at the source as well as poses minimal risk to human health and the environment. The 12 principles of green engineering (Box 3.2) which provide a framework for scientists and engineers to engage in while designing products, processes, and systems were proposed by Paul Anastas and Julie Zimmerman in 2003.43 Engineers apply risk assessment concepts and systems analysis to processes and products, with the intent to consider the life cycle impacts of that particular product or process. These analyses allow one to appropriately consider and thereby control all the environmental impacts as well as risks associated at various stages of the process. Green engineering and chemistry together have made a significant sustainable contribution in the fields of agriculture, food processing, potable water, sustainable energy, consumer products, automobiles, construction, industrial automation, education, health, aircraft, and space travel as well as in the communication sector. The tracing back of the history and current status of each of these sectors is beyond the scope of this book.

BOX 3.2 Principles of Green Engineering

Principles of Green Engineering

1. Designing all material and energy inputs and outputs as inherently nonhazardous as possible

2. Prevention of waste is better than to treat or cleanup of waste after it is formed

3. Minimization of energy consumption and material use during separation and purification processes

4. Maximize mass, energy, space, and time efficiency of all operations and products

5. All operations and products should be output-pulled rather than input-pushed via the use of energy and material

6. Embedded entropy and complexity must be viewed as an investment when making design choices

7. Targeted durability, not immortality, should be a design goal

8. Meet need, minimize excess

9. Material diversity in multicomponent products should be minimized

10. Integrate local material and energy flows in the design of products, processes, and systems

11. Design for commercial “afterlife”

12. Material and energy inputs should be from renewable resources to the maximum extent possible


Dependence on green technology is deeply rooted in the need for sustainable solutions for the survival of our planet facing the dare consequences of climate change and global wanning. The rising population and increasing demand for food and energy are other key drivers. Though still a dominant global energy source, the future of fossil fuels is quite unpromising due to the lack of its availability at affordable prices as well as due to the knowledge its impact has on the environment and global climate change. Thus, the future of the energy industry lies outside of the traditional fossil fuel- based centralized power station models which cause serious environmental problems. With solar and wind energy available almost anywhere, a fall in price and advancement of renewable technologies is likely to diminish our dependence on fossil fuels. Though output from wind turbines is found to decrease with the age of installation, by 2050, wind power is expected to supply 14.3 exajoules (EJ) globally. With the primary energy then expected to be as high as 1000 EJ, wind energy will remain a marginal source of energy if it follows the linear growth rate of the past decade. Electricity generation via solar energy followed an exponential growth rate recently, and given the possibility of technical outbreaks such as perovskite solar panels, solar spray, and multi-junction cells, any predictions of future output are unlikely to be useful. However, it must be noted that wind energy also had experienced an exponential growth phase between the mid-1990s up until 2008 after which output has only risen linearly. At present, hydropower is a mature technology with only little in the way of technical progress to be expected in the future. Still annual electric output via hydropower by 2050 is estimated to be well below 30 EJ. Geothermal electricity outgrowth has been linear for the past three to four decades, and if this trend is to continue, it is estimated to reach 20 GW by 2050; a veiy minor fraction of global electricity output. Enhanced geothermal system is a looming technology which offers to dr amatically expand the use of geothermal energy as presently only 10% of the world’s area with hydrothermal convection systems is fit for geothermal power production. Though there are pitfalls hr this technology, with concerns regarding whether such drilling would cause seismic activity, there is plenty of research and development activity going on. Currently, ocean energy is the world’s greatest remaining source of untapped renewable energy. In spite of the halting progr ess the industry has made, it is quite evident that it remains decades behind other forms of renewable energy. Several promising technologies (wave energy converters, wave carpet) are being developed, and many have undergone ocean trials; however, no commercial-scale wave power exists now. The renewable energy sector output will steadily expand in the future, given that the remaining fossil fuels will be much more costly to extract than at present. The impact of ongoing climate change on the output of renewable energy will vary depending on the source. For example, virile geothermal and tidal energy will not be directly affected, as they are independent of climate change, bioenergy and hydropower will be most affected.46

Over the last few years, global investment in green technology has been increasing by almost 20% hr sectors like energy, innovation, and manufacturing. As green technology continues to emerge as a growing force, several strong industry clusters with varying levels of investment have emerged. With some of the major concerns of modem society being rising plastic as v’ell as electronics consumption and consequent waste production, the development of innovative biopolymer materials that are ftrlly biodegradable for use in packaging, agriculture, medicine, electronics, and other areas through the application of green chemistry and engineering is quite promising. The complete transition from synthetic nonbiodegradable plastics to edible as well as biodegradable plastics such as the E6PR (Eco Six Pack Ring) produced from the by-products of brewing beer could make a noticeable dent in the plastic pollution of oceans. “Green” electronics is an emerging area of research aimed at tackling the consequences of the colossal demand of electronics by delivering low-cost and energy-efficient materials and devices. Though organic (carbon-based) electronics entered the research field in the mid-1970s, the performance, as well as stability of organic semiconductors, remains a major obstacle in its development as solid competitors for its inorganic counterparts. In the not too distant future, the widespread use of roadside energy harvesting technologies like piezoelectric devices and triboelectric devices might be able to generate enough electricity for smart cities.

Even though electric vehicles (EVs) were highly when compared to the ICE cars around the 19th century, the cheaper availability of fossil fuel-powered vehicles and the wide accessibility of fuel stations by 1912 led to the rapid decline of EVs. The transportation sector became responsible for 24% of direct CO, emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2018. Road vehicles such as cars, buses, and trucks as well as two- and three-wheelers account for nearly three-quarters of this transmission. In the past as well as in the current scenario, the cleaning up of these emissions is a pressing issue. A lot of problems that put electric cars out of favor in the early 1900s are still prevalent today such as the batteries being too heavy and taking too long to charge. The low mileage, at the same time great expense, and the short life span of EVs is what makes it unattractive to buyers. In spite of the drawbacks, the number of electric light-duty vehicles on road has exceeded 5 million. With a great deal of progress made in batteiy technology, EVs are expected to reenter the market on a large scale within a couple of years. By 2050, EVs could represent more than 60% of new sales and may constitute up to 25% of the global car fleet. Breakthrough research into the production of drop-in biofuels, chargers such as Sonnen EV chargers and electrified roads such as eRoadArlanda are promising, sustainable, low- carbon, green-powered alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.

In this modem world, now more than ever before, consumers are willing to buy environmentally friendly products and are also concerned with the impact of their decisions on the environment. Governments can help build a green future through measures such as green industrial policies, research, and development activities as well as implementing incentives and subsidies for green technology. Companies that green their supply chains by optimizing operations with environmentally friendly power generation and storage methods, taking into consideration both energy and material efficiency, as well as waste management and recycling, are now at the forefront of the business world. By lowering costs and minimizing waste, they are capable of enhancing their competitive position by increasing productivity while maintaining sustainability. This “Green” revolution will surely wipe off companies and industries that fail to offer environmentally sustainable practices and technologies as current economic theories postulate that the increased energy consumption will eventually exhaust the fossil resources and consequently raise the cost to extract them. While at present, green technology products are among the many options available for us, in the very near future, it is going to be the only option toward satisfying the growing demand for energy in a sustainable way. The present generation is in du e need of a new gr een deal, which integrates gr een technologies with economics and policy thereby delivering more sendee to the entire population, reducing and eradicating extreme poverty, and generating more energy without compromising the development of the economy. All this must be achieved within the overall framework of low carbon emissions in order to protect future generations.


  • • green technology
  • • products
  • • sustainable development
  • • living standards
  • • green gas emissions


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