97289 - Physical Chemistry for the Environment

Course Unit Page


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

Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Sustainable cities Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the Course the student has the physical-chemical basic knowledge tounderstand the causes of atmospheric and water pollution. Particularly, the student is able to evaluate the advantages of an energy plan thatstrengthens the use of energy from renewable sources.

Course contents

The course consists of 8 lessons of 3 hours each.

1-Introduction to the course.

Brief overview on air pollution and climate changes.

2-Overwiew of thermodinamics, reaction enthalpy.

3-Green economy: energetic problem, intermittent renewable sources, energy returned on energy invested (EROEI).

4-Energy storage systems for plants equipped with renewable intermittent sources.

Lithium batteries and brief overview on electrochemistry.


5-Hydrogen and fuel cells.

Examples of applications of batteries and fuel cells to electric vehicles for sustainable transportation and in renewable energy plants.

6-Applications of microbial fuel cells.

7- Brief overview on conventional and innovative physical-chemical processes (catalytic and electrochemical) for the treatment of waste water.

Examples of electrochemical treatments for specific pollutants (heavy metals, drugs, etc.).

8-Nuclear chemistry: health and environment.


The reference text is Chimica Ambientale - Baird Cann (Zanichelli)

All the bibliographic references indicated in the presentations used in class will be provided as supporting material.

Many of these articles are periodically replaced with more recent ones.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons and exercises for better clarify the topics of the lessons

It is advisable to attend classes for a better understanding of the topics.

Possible distance teaching will be given through Microsoft Teams with the support of Microsoft 365 software suite.

Assessment methods

The final exam is oral and based on a program topic chosen by the student and two or more questions on the main program topics.The exam aims to determine both the acquisition of expected knowledge by the course program and the student's ability to find links among the covered topics, also using the reference material provided by the teacher. Each student receives a mark based on the ability to present in concise and complete manner the specific issues. Organic vision and criticism of the topics and mastery of specific language will be evaluated very positively; mnemonic knowledge of the subject, lack of synthesis and inappropriate specific language will be evaluated not so positively. 

Note: assessment methods could vary in case of extension of the anti-COVID measures. Students will be promptly informed by the teacher in case of variation.


Teaching tools

Power point presentations used during the lessons and any  research material will be provided to the students in electronic format via Internet. The power point presentations used during the course will be uploaded on the site Insegnamenti on line before the corresponding lesson. It is advisable to consult the ppt presentations before the lesson in order to be able to follow the lesson in a proactive way. It is suggested to download (or print) presentations and bring them to class in order to integrate them with notes.

Possible distance teaching will be given through Microsoft Teams with the support of Microsoft 365 software suite.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Catia Arbizzani