EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

Summary & Activities


Summary & Activities

Lesson 4 introduced a very wide topic - green chemistry - which covers numerous innovations in chemical process design, manufacturing, and materials. Chemistry penetrates almost every aspect of modern technology, so such questions as how the technological components are made, where the starting materials come from, and what happens to them through the lifecycle are pivotal points for decision makers looking for increasing sustainability. There are ongoing efforts in both US and Europe to develop guidance for assessment of chemical technologies, and a variety of methodologies have been tested so far. There is no unified system of assessment, which is understandable considering the diversity of subjects within the area of green chemistry. What you should take home from this lesson is the understanding of main steps and principles plus a list of key resources which can help with consistent analysis of emerging chemical technologies. This lesson activity provides you with hands-on practice of examination of a real-life case and should stimulate some critical thinking with respect to what works and what does not in the recommended assessment protocols.

Assignments for Lesson 4:
Type Assignment Directions Submit To
Reading Complete all necessary reading assigned in this lesson.
Discussion Chemical exposure: All of us are routinely exposed to a variety of chemicals every day. Some of those exposures are mild and barely noticeable; some are more harmful, but we get used to them anyway; but some of the cases are on the extreme side and pose significant health and life threats. For this discussion, try to recall the worst chemical exposure experienced either by you or your province or state. Describe briefly your case and try to address the two questions: (1) What was the cause of the exposure (unknown risk, human error, negligence, terror, etc.)? and (2) What prevention measures or green chemistry principles could have been applied to avoid the situation you described?

Please read others' posts and comment on at least two of them. Follow up on any questions to your post.

Deadline for initial posting – this Sunday; reply to other posts by Wednesday


Lesson 4 Discussion 


Activity For this activity, you are asked to conduct quick research on a specific example related to the topic of green chemistry and advanced materials. The main goal of this activity is to develop skills for search of relevant information for understanding technological ideas.

  1. Choose one of the examples of a novel chemical technology, preferably outside your area of expertise. You can choose any of the examples presented in Sections 4.4 or 4.5 or find others.
  2. Collect necessary additional information about this particular technology or method through web search. Target at least 5 different information sources to gather your knowledge on the topic. It would be best to use both data published in peer-reviewed sources and public media to understand the all-round status of the technology. Do not forget to document your sources!
  3. Prepare a short report (max 2 pages) addressing the following questions:
    • What is the main idea of this innovation compared to conventional practice?
    • What advantages does the new approach bring from sustainability standpoint? (Hint: Check it versus Green Chemistry principles.)
    • What are some of the metrics/criteria you would suggest to assess the viability of the new approach?
    • How close this technology is to commercialization? (Estimate TRL if possible.)
    • What obstacles or problems do you see for the implementation of this technology?
  4. In the end of your report, provide the list of information sources used.

Please see more guidance on this assignment in the Lesson 4 Activity Sheet posted on Canvas

Deadline: Wednesday (before midnight)


Lesson 4 Activity 


Course Project

This week you need to prepare you Course Project Outline in the form of narrated Power Point presentation for the class. The goal of this submission is to let your peers know about your project and learn about others in class. Further the presentations will be subject to peer review. 

Please visit Lesson 12 (Page 12.3) for more guidance on Project Outline and how to make audio for it.

Deadline: Wednesday night (please see specific deadlines in Canvas Calendar) 

Canvas: Course Project Module

References for Lesson 4:

Anastas, P.T., Zimmerman, J.B., Innovations in Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, Springer 2013.

Nemat-Nasser, S., Nemat-Nasser, Sy., Plaisted, T., Starr, A., and Amirkhizi, A.V., Multifunctional Materials, in Biomimetics: Biologically Inspired Technologies, Bar-Cohen, Y., Ed., CRC Press, 2005.

UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program, Developing Regulatory Alternatives Analysis Methodologies for the California Green Chemistry Initiative, Final Report, 2011.

Gao, Y., Wei., Z., Yang, Z.M., Chen, Y.M., Zrinyi, M., and Osada, Y., Green Chemistry, 2014, advance article.