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Evaluating the Sustainability of Green Chemistries: Development of the Greenscope Tool

Raymond L. Smith and Michael A. Gonzalez. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, 26 W. Martin Luther King Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45268

The U.S. EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory is developing a methodology for the evaluation of reaction chemistries. This methodology, called GREENSCOPE (Gauging Reaction Effectiveness for the ENvironmental Sustainability of Chemistries with a multi-Objective Process Evaluator), evaluates new chemistries and technologies to determine their current or potential sustainability. Sustainability is defined as showing improvement in four areas, called the four E's: efficiency, environment, energy, and economics. Ongoing work has defined sets of indicators for each of the four E's [1, 2], in terms of economic potentials, environmental impacts, efficiencies, and energy use.

Recently, research has been performed to consider an example for the one-step oxidation of cyclohexane to adipic acid and a direct comparison to a traditional two-step process. Results are calculated for the four E's showing where efficiency, environmental, energy use, and economic improvements exist and where further development needs to be addressed. Analyses such as this should help chemists and engineers involved at the beginning stages of development to devise greener and more sustainable processes/products.

[1] M.A. Gonzalez, R.L. Smith, “A Methodology to Evaluate Process Sustainability,” Environmental Progress, 22(4), 269-276 (2003).

[2] R.L. Smith, M.A. Gonzalez, “Methods for Evaluating the Sustainability of Green Processes,” Computer-Aided Chemical Engineering 18, Peer-reviewed proceedings of the European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering, Lisbon, Portugal, 1135-1140 (2004).