Green chemistry’s 12 principles

For the past decade, ARC has focused on using greener chemistries in Oilfield applications. There has been confusion and debate about what “green” means, but recently a definition has been standardized:

Green chemistry’s 12 principles (1):

1. Prevent waste: Design chemical syntheses to prevent waste. Leave no waste to treat or clean up.

2. Maximize atom economy: Design syntheses so that the final product contains the maximum proportion of the starting materials. Waste few or no atoms.

3. Design less hazardous chemical syntheses: Design syntheses to use and generate substances with little or no toxicity to either humans or the environment.

4. Design safer chemicals and products: Design chemical products that are fully effective yet have little or no toxicity.

5. Use safer solvents and reaction conditions: Avoid using solvents, separation agents, or other auxiliary chemicals. If you must use these chemicals, use safer ones.

6. Increase energy efficiency: Run chemical reactions at room temperature and pressure whenever possible.

7. Use renewable feedstocks: Use starting materials (also known as feedstocks) that are renewable rather than depletable. The source of renewable feedstocks is often agricultural products or the wastes of other processes; the source of depletable feedstocks is often fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, or coal) or mining operations.

8. Avoid chemical derivatives: Avoid using blocking or protecting groups or any temporary modifications if possible. Derivatives use additional reagents and generate waste.

9. Use catalysts, not stoichiometric reagents: Minimize waste by using catalytic reactions. Catalysts are effective in small amounts and can carry out a single reaction many times. They are preferable to stoichiometric reagents, which are used in excess and carry out a reaction only once.

10. Design chemicals and products to degrade after use: Design chemical products to break down to innocuous substances after use so that they do not accumulate in the environment.

11. Analyze in real time to prevent pollution: Include in-process, real-time monitoring and control during syntheses to minimize or eliminate the formation of byproducts.

12. Minimize the potential for accidents: Design chemicals and their physical forms (solid, liquid, or gas) to minimize the potential for chemical accidents including explosions, fires, and releases to the environment.

Using those twelve points, here are the tenets ARC follows:

1. Use innovative approaches to solve real-world application and environmental problems

2. Reduce the negative impacts of chemicals and minimize the effects on human health and the environment

3. Seek to lessen and, whenever possible, eliminate hazards from existing products and processes

4. Develop products to reduce the intrinsic hazards to workers and the environment

At ARC we reduce product hazards through the use of compounds that are readily biodegradable, possess fewer inherent hazards (i.e., nonflammable or noncorrosive) and come from minimally impactful sources. Adopting this approach requires significant resources from ARC when compared to the typical development process. It’s an investment we willingly make to develop solutions to application challenges because we value our customers and the environment.

(1) https://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/basics-green-chemistry

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