Published:20 Oct 2021
Over the last sixty years, organic synthesis has reached a very high level of sophistication leading to the realization of innovative synthetic protocols for the construction of complex molecular architectures. Parallel to these achievements, new issues in today's world, dealing with the concepts of resilience (defined as the capability and ability of an environmental system to return to a stable state after damage/disruption),1 sustainable development2 and, in the case of chemical production, preventing pollution3 have emerged.
Such issues have been levied by ordinary people to the Scientific Society, and institutions such as the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to assess the synthetic approaches in order to develop sustainable alternatives and to face this new challenge.
With the aim of spurring scientists and industries on the way to this new research philosophy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with the impregnable contribution of Paul Anastas and John Warner,4 formalized in 1993 the concept of “Green Chemistry”, as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. In this regard, both guidelines (denoted as twelve principles of green chemistry)5 and green metrics, in order to assess and quantify the environmental impact of a chemical process,6 have been introduced and are nowadays commonly used for assessing and optimizing synthetic protocols, as well as for comparing new and old synthetic processes. In the end, this new consciousness has led scientists to explore a variety of different tools to arrive at the common goal of more sustainable chemical production. In this regard, the realization of this handbook was undertaken with the aim of providing readers with an exhaustive overview on Organic Green Synthesis, by covering all of the synthetic strategies that are currently adopted on the way to sustainability, corroborated also by the use of green/energy metrics.
With this purpose, the handbook is composed of three sections, namely Activation of Chemical Substrates Under Sustainable Conditions, Benign Media for Organic Synthesis and Sustainable Approaches in Organic Synthesis. Accordingly, the first section is focused on synthetic strategies that are well-established (including, among others, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis and biocatalysis), or have recently emerged (electrochemistry and visible-light photochemistry) in sustainable organic chemistry, while the second part of the handbook is devoted to bioderived and reusable solvents proposed in the literature as a sustainable alternative to VOCs as the reaction media. The aim of the third section is to describe synthetic philosophies that have recently emerged as a way of thinking to perform sustainable production. The last two chapters are finally focused to the contribution of Green Chemistry to Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry. We believe that this contribution will play a key role in furnishing different practical examples to academic and industrial readers, as well as for introducing green chemistry topics to young researchers and as precious help for students.
We would like to thank the researchers that contributed to this handbook and the staff of the Royal Society of Chemistry (in particular Connor Sheppard and Helen Armes) that supported us in this project.
Alessandro Palmieri and Stefano Protti