Submitted to: American Chemical Society Symposium Series
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/11/2010
Publication Date: 8/11/2010
Citation: Cheng, H.N., Gross, R.A. 2010. Green polymer chemistry: biocatalysis and biomaterials. In: Cheng, H.N., Gross, R.A., editors. Green Polymer Chemistry: Biocatalysis and Biomaterials. Washington, DC: ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1043. pp 1-14. Interpretive Summary: Green chemistry can be defined as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. In recent years, there is a lot of interest in environmental impacts of waste chemicals. The toxicity of some chemicals and their safe use and handling are another concern. Many industrial processes use large volumes of chemical solvents or monomers, and these also need to be handled with care. As a result of these concerns, “green chemistry” is becoming a popular topic in many research laboratories. Green chemistry is also popular in polymer science. A lot of research work has been done in the past 10 years. Progress has been particularly notable in areas relating to biobased materials (e.g., agriculturally based natural renewable raw materials), and biocatalysis (e.g., enzymes, cell-free extracts, and whole-cell approaches). An international symposium was organized by the authors in the ACS national meeting in August 2009 on these topics. The proceedings of that symposium will be published as a symposium book by the ACS. This article will be the lead chapter for that symposium book. The topics reviewed in this article may be of interest to researchers interested in “green polymer chemistry”. They may wish to use biobased raw materials to carry out new product development, or they may be interested in biocatalysis and more environmentally friendly industrial processes.
Technical Abstract: This overview briefly surveys the practice of green chemistry in polymer science. Eight related themes can be discerned from the current research activities: 1) biocatalysis, 2) bio-based building blocks and agricultural products, 3) degradable polymers, 4) recycling of polymer products and catalysts, 5) energy generation or minimization during use, 6) optimal molecular design and activity, 7) benign solvents, and 8) improved synthesis to achieve atom economy, reaction efficiency, and reduced toxicity. All of these areas are experiencing an increase in research activity with the development of new tools and technologies. Examples are given of recent developments in green chemistry with a focus on biocatalysis and biobased materials.