66291 - Sustainable Chemistry

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Emilio Tagliavini (Modulo 1) Paola Galletti (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Chemistry (cod. 9072)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will be able to recognize the structure and properties of the most important pollutants and their fate in the environment, regarding their breakdown in environmental compartments and major degradation reactions. The student will acquire the knowledge of the principles and tools of sustainable chemistry, some fundamental regulatory aspects (REACH), principles and examples of alternative substance design. The student will become aware of how to sustainably produce and use chemicals and sources of raw materials and energy, with particular emphasis on renewable sources. The student will become familiar with some experimental techniques of sustainable chemistry through laboratory training.

Course contents

Prerequisites: The student who accesses this course must have good preparation in basic organic chemistry, both for the synthetic aspects and for the structure-property relationships. He / she must possess basic knowledge of physical-chemistry and be aware of the elementary biology and biochemistry. He / she must be familiar with basic analytical and preparatory laboratory techniques.

The Course is composed by two teaching units.

Unit 1

Evaluation of structural parameters that regulate the interaction of organic molecules with the environment: distribution of organic substances between different environmental compartments.
The concept of persistence and the estimation of the life time of an organic compound in the environment. Degradation reactions of organic compounds in the environment: reactions of oxidation, reduction, abiotic hydrolysis and microorganism-promoted hydrolysis.

Sources and fate of the main classes of organic pollutants: aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, alkyl and aromatic halides, surfactants and pesticides
Examples of pollution from organic compounds and their effects on the environment: decreased stratospheric ozone concentration, photochemical smog, greenhouse effect, the Seveso industrial accident.

Unit 2

Historical picture of the start and growth of Sustainable Chemistry. The 12 Principles of Sustainable Chemistry. Objectives and tools of green chemistry. The "Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award": sessions and winners. Green metrics: the concepts of "Atom economy", "Environmental factor" and other parameters to measure the sustainability of chemical reactions. Hints of LCA and other evaluation methods.
The REACH legislation and its implications; the Chemical Safety Report; the processes of Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction; Substances of Very High Concenrn; other regulatory systems.
Starting materials from renewable sources for the chemical industry. The concept of biorefinery. Fermentative or chemical processing. Carbohydrates as feedstocks for the chemical industry. Lipids as feedstocks for the chemical industry. Polymers from renewable sources.
Production and use of Bio-based platform chemicals: lactic acid, 3-hydroxypropanoic acid, succinic and fumaric acids, levulinic acid, 5-hydroxymethyl furfural.

Innovative sustainable Chemical Products. Examples of innovative products that are successful in the fields of paints, anti-scalants, chelating agents, surfactants and pesticides.
Synthetic Methods and Reagents for Sustainable Chemistry. Examples of "green" innovative syntheses.
Alternative Solvents for Sustainable Chemistry. Solventless reactions. The classes of green solvents: water, ionic liquids and related solvent systems, biphasic systems with fluorinated solvents, supercritical fluids.

Alternative Chemical Energy sources: Biomass, Bioethanol, Biodiesel, Biogas; Fuel Cells, Hydrogen.

Laboratory training on Syntheses and Materials of the Green Chemistry.


The basic reading material will be the teachers' slides and notes; this material will be available in IoL.

For more deepening of the learning topics, the following bibliography is suggested:

  • Clark, James H., Macquarrie, Duncan J “Handbook of green chemistry & technology” Blackwell Science, 2002.
  • Sheldon, Roger Arthur “Green chemistry and catalysis”
  • Bührke, Thomas, Wengenmayr, Roland “Renewable energy : sustainable energy concepts for the future” Wiley VHC.
  • Peter Wasserscheid and Annegret Stark, “Ionic Liquids” Wiley VHC.
  • Andrew P. Dicks, “Green Organic Chemistry in Lecture and Laboratory” CRC Press.
  • Pietro Tundo, Alvise Perosa, Fulvio Zecchini, “Methods and reagents for green chemistry : an introduction”.
  • Colin Baird, Chimica Ambientale, Zanichelli
  • S. E. Manahan, Chimica dell'ambiente, Piccin
  • B. Rindone, Introduzione alla Chimica Ambientale, Città Studi Edizioni
  • R. P. Schwarzenbach, P.M. Gschwend, D. I. Imboden, Environmental Organic Chemistry, Wiley Interscience
  • R. A. Larson, E. J. Weber, Reaction mechanisms in environmental organic chemistry, Lewis Publishers

Teaching methods

Lectures with videoprojection and discussion

Practical training in the laboratory

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 [https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/health-and-assistance/health-and-safety/online-course-on-health-and-safety-in-study-and-internship-areas] online, while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree programme

Assessment methods

Oral exam and reports of laboratory training.

Assessment is based both on the final exam and the evaluation of the student's laboratory activity reports.
The evaluation of laboratory reports aims to verify the knowledge of the techniques learned and the ability to critically process the data obtained. Evaluation of reports affects the final score and is preliminary to the final oral exam.
The final exam is conjunct and will cover the student's preparation on aspects relevant to both modules. The exam consists of an oral discussion of the topics learned in both teaching modules. Questions will be asked about some of the main topics in both modules that the student will develop interacting with the teachers.
The duration of the oral test is about 45 minutes.
The final vote is given on the basis of both the oral test, and the laboratory reports.

Teaching tools

Videoprojector. Multimedia devices.

Common instrumentation of the organic chemistry laboratory.

Office hours

See the website of Emilio Tagliavini

See the website of Paola Galletti


Quality education Industry, innovation and infrastructure Sustainable cities Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.