26th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education, Research and Innovation

This workshop aims to advance the knowledge of systems and the application of systems thinking to the practice of chemistry through the use of key concepts, terminology, and examples of systems thinking in chemistry. Participants will engage in exercises that help them evaluate alternative approaches and/or design new solutions in the context of systems thinking. Examples will address systems chemistry in teaching, research and innovation. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will have new strategies, approaches and resources that they can use to infuse systems thinking into their green chemistry efforts.

I. Characterizing a system for a common item
II. Expanding systems thinking to the synthesis of a chemical
III. Getting more comfortable with the complexity of systems, boundaries and feedbacks
IV. Getting more comfortable with trading impacts through Alternatives Assessment

This Session will review and explore the scope and definition of systems thinking in chemistry education, as well as educational research and practice oriented by systems thinking approaches. It will also include a strong focus on the application of systems thinking to green and sustainable chemistry education and seeks to include interdisciplinary perspectives that can drive innovation in this area.

Reimagining Chemistry Education Through Systems Thinking

Organizers: Tom Holme, Morrill Professor of Chemistry, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA; Peter Mahaffy, Professor of Chemistry The King’s University, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Recent publications challenge chemistry professionals to transform chemistry so that it addresses emerging global challenges. Common themes in these calls for transformation include the integration of systems thinking into the practice of chemistry and a wholesale re-imagination of chemistry education to more effectively educate scientists and citizens to prepare them for their roles in a rapidly changing planet and society. This technical session will report on and guide efforts to reimagine chemistry education using novel systems thinking approaches throughout educational programs.

Systems thinking emphasizes the interdependence of components of dynamic systems. In the context of chemistry, systems thinking moves beyond isolated consideration of reactions and processes to consider where materials come from, how they are transformed and used, and what happens at the end of their life span. It draws attention to a need to balance the benefits and impacts of chemical substances and the role they play in societal and environmental systems. Applied to STEM education, systems thinking describes approaches that move beyond fragmented and reductionist knowledge of disciplinary content to a more integrated and holistic understanding of the field. A framework for using systems thinking in chemistry education places learners at the center of a system of chemistry education, suggesting tools and approaches to help instructors and curriculum developers see interconnections among the different components that are part of the learning of chemistry. Teaching chemistry through a systems approach challenges students to apply scientific principles to solve real-world problems, demonstrates chemistry’s role as an essential science in finding solutions to global challenges, and prepares future scientists for the collaborative interdisciplinary work required.

Elements of systems thinking have helped to drive developments in green and sustainable chemistry education. The successful application of the principles of green chemistry and engineering, the effective use of tools such as life-cycle analysis, and the development of novel molecular design strategies depends on considering the interconnectedness of reactions and processes with local and global systems. Building students’ capacity to integrate systems thinking into their chemistry problem-solving toolkit can yield new insights and create new opportunities for design and innovation. These strategies and approaches can help to stimulate and inspire further work and research more broadly within chemistry education in promoting and enhancing students’ systems thinking skills. They can also help students develop a deeper and more interconnected understanding of chemistry and related disciplines as a whole.

This session will review and explore the scope and definition of systems thinking in chemistry education, as well as educational research and practice oriented by systems thinking approaches. It will also include a strong focus on the application of systems thinking to green and sustainable chemistry education and seeks to include interdisciplinary perspectives that can drive innovation in this area.

Studies in Greener Chemistry

This session is open for presentations on topics not covered by any of the other symposia.

NOTE: In order for your abstract to be considered appropriately, please review the list of sessions and descriptions then submit your abstract to the session that is most appropriate for your topic. If there is no appropriate session you may submit your abstract to this session for consideration.

Challenges in Closing the Loop for Textiles

Organizer: John Frazier, Senior Technical Director, Hohenstein Institute America

Material and chemical manufacturers are redefining what they make, how they make it, and how their inputs impact the processes and footprint for creating consumer and industrial products. Greener, more sustainable materials, chemistry and engineering are widely embraced as the way to create and deliver high performance products, minimize environmental impacts, and advance circular life cycles. This session will discuss the challenges the industry faces for closing the loop on materials, recognize some of the barriers, and highlight some of the efforts and wins already occurring. In this session, material, chemical and process innovations transforming end of life considerations for textiles and footwear.

Implementing Mechanochemistry Processes in Chemical Manufacturing and Research

Organizers: Tomislav Friščić, Assoc. Professor, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Audrey Moores, Assoc. Professor, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; James Mack, Professor, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA

The symposium highlights the emergent opportunities of solvent-free chemical methodologies, notably mechanochemistry, in eliminating or vastly reducing the use of solvents in chemical processes, across research, manufacturing and recycling, biomass conversion, as well as education in environmentally-friendly synthesis. Our aim is to bring together academic and industrial experts, as well as novices in this field to present and learn about the recent accomplishments in understanding the materials- and energy-efficiency of mechanochemical reactions, the fundamentals of underlying kinetics and thermodynamics, as well as potential for industrial implementation, scale-up, recycling and biomass exploitation.

Over the past decade, mechanochemistry by ball milling has emerged as a powerful, uniquely general methodology to conduct reactions in the complete, or almost complete, absence of solvents. There is a growing number of examples in research literature demonstrating that the scope of such mechanochemical reactions can match and even exceed that of traditional processes in liquid solvents. So far, mechanochemical reactivity has been used with success to advance: organic and pharmaceutical synthesis, metal-based, organo- as well as enzymatic catalysis, organometallics, inorganic chemistry, synthesis of a wide range of nano-structured materials (nanoparticle systems, metal-organic frameworks, covalent organic frameworks), as well as activation and recycling of critical elements.

Consequently, it is likely that mechanochemical methodologies could become “Chemistry 2.0”: an effective, safer and cleaner alternative to solvent-based processes, that will eliminate or reduce at least 1000-fold the use of solvents, while also providing access to new reactions, materials and more efficient use of resources. The potential future implementation of mechanochemistry as a replacement of traditional solution chemistry, requires a detailed understanding of the most recent advances in mechanochemical technologies and their industrial potential, as well as of the kinetics and energetics of mechanochemical processes. Consequently, it is the purpose of this symposium to:

  1. Bring together experts in diverse areas of mechanochemistry, with backgrounds in research, industry and chemical education to discuss and present their work along with newcomers to the field.
  2. Highlight and illustrate recent implementations of mechanochemistry in research, industry and chemistry education.
  3. Discuss conventional green chemistry metrics, which have been developed in context of solvent-based synthesis, for addressing solvent-free processes through mechanochemistry or other technologies.
  4. Evaluate the potential of mechanochemistry as a replacement for traditional solvent-free chemistry, identify pitfalls and outline a roadmap to achieving this goal.
  5. Discuss the potential impact of mechanochemical processes and solvent-free chemistry on lifecycle analysis of products and processes.

Connecting Chemistry with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Organizers: Edward Brush, Department of Chemistry, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA; Grace Lasker, School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Washington Bothell, Bothell, WA

In 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of a global agenda to improve the lives of people by addressing world-wide challenges of poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. There is excellent potential for the chemistry enterprise to make significant contributions to help achieve these goals. However, the chemistry enterprise must commit to a transition to systems and life cycle thinking approaches; consider the source of all chemicals and their transformations; their end of life fate; and impacts on people, the environment and the economy.

This symposium will take advantage of the joint meeting with the International Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference to engage an international audience with multidisciplinary and multicultural perspectives, sharing their views on the U.N. SDGs, and exploring how innovative green and sustainable chemistry technologies can contribute globally to human rights, social equity and environmental justice. Discussing these issues will help advance the chemistry enterprise to achieve sustainability, assist those being trained to enter the workforce, and help better communicate the societal benefits of green and sustainable chemistry technologies.

Critical to the success of this symposium will be contributions from all sectors of the chemistry enterprise (academia, industry, funding agencies, policy, professional organizations, national and international partners), plus those not directly involved in chemistry. We will all need to collaborate around a central theme where the SDGs are a strategic priority. A goal of this symposium is to create a graphic systems map that will outline how chemists can partner with stakeholders both inside and outside the chemistry enterprise, and collaborate in advancing the UN SDGs.

Making Molecular Separations More Sustainable

Organizers: Boelo Schuur, Associate Professor, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands; Robert Giraud, The Chemours Company, Wilmington, Delaware, USA

The sustainability of the chemistry enterprise depends on the development and adoption of sustainable separations technology. Incumbent separations technology (distillation) is too energy intensive, and often too capital intensive, to allow sustainable recovery of organic solvents or of components from dilute aqueous solution. Today’s industrial reliance on distillation accounts for over 40% of the energy consumption and over 50% of the capital investment of chemical processes. Sholl and Lively (Nature, 2016) note this equates to 10-15% of global energy use. Without sustainable separations technology, companies often incinerate solvents and discharge wastewater after conventional treatment. In both cases, the material value of the streams is lost, and life cycle impact is worsened. Furthermore, the loss of valuable components from dilute aqueous solution is a major threat to the sustainability of new biorefineries and a significant concern when carrying out organic reactions in water. Closing the loop requires new solutions.

The ACS GCI Chemical Manufacturers Roundtable has led the development of a technology roadmap highlighting key research, development, and demonstration needs to accelerate industrial application of sustainable alternative separation (AltSep) processes. Like the AltSep roadmap, this symposium will focus on advances in solid mass separating agent (MSA) process technology (i.e., membrane separation and adsorption). To enable meaningful progress toward a circular economy, the symposium will concentrate on two key topics: (1) recovery of organic solvents and (2) recovery from dilute aqueous solution. By bringing together people interested in these two topics, needs and opportunities can be discussed to lay the groundwork for further research advances and industrial adoption. The session will close with a panel discussion to promote interaction between the speakers and the audience as well as among the speakers.

Exploring Green Chemistry Innovations in Plastics to Help Protect our Oceans

Organizers: Carol Henry, ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement, Portland, Oregon, USA; Robert Giraud, ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement, Wilmington, Delaware, USA

As the World Economic Forum (2016) reports, over 30% of plastic packaging materials “leak” into the oceans and other natural systems. They attribute this leakage in part to inadequate plastics recycling. Low recycling rates in the U.S. stem from decades of physical recycling approaches that have often resulted in degraded properties. New chemistry-based approaches are needed to prevent leakage of plastics into nature. In some cases, chemical recycling promises to economically recover the material value of polymers at the end of first life. In others, advances in chemical technology can promote the use of end-of-life plastics as feedstocks or significantly improve physical recycling. Either way, sustainably closing the loop on plastics to prevent further leakage into the oceans requires application of green chemistry and engineering.

This symposium will bring together environmental, business, chemistry, and engineering perspectives to connect problems with solutions and commercial implementation thereof. While others focus on design and commercialization of biobased and degradable polymers, this symposium will concentrate on the application of chemistry to recover or enable recovery of the material value of plastics at end of first life.

A panel discussion at the end of the session will discuss questions such as: (1) How can polymers be redesigned to meet the property needs currently served by complex materials in laminate packaging? (2) What chemical technology can be applied to enhance separation of mixed plastics? (3) How can end of first life plastics be sustainably transformed into valuable chemical products? (4) What is needed to sustainably depolymerize end of first life plastics to enable reuse as monomers? (5) How can conventional polymers be redesigned to facilitate recovery and reuse?

Catalysis to Enable a Circular Economy

Contributors: Adelina Voutchkova, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA; Audrey Moores, Associate Professor of Chemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

The pursuit of a circular economy necessitates the development of transformations geared towards the synthesis of benign and non-persistent intermediates and products, as well as transformations that facilitate the breakdown of existing persistent chemicals and polymers. This requires a paradigm shift in the way we design new chemical transformations. Catalytic processes that enable a circular economy should consider both the forward (bond-making) process and reverse (bond breaking) transformations, which can be used to recover the chemical building blocks. The latter will constitute a form of chemical recycling that not only eliminates the need for disposal, but also provides a feedstock that can be reused in circular materials economy. The design of such processes requires a paradigm shift within the catalysis community in order to fill the substantial gap in available processes for catalytic degradation and to ensure that new chemicals and polymers are designed such that they can be chemically or biologically degraded on demand.

This session will convene researchers in homogeneous, heterogeneous and biocatalysis interested in setting the future research agenda of catalysis for the circular economy. Topics of interest will include (but not be limited to) the design of catalytic processes both building and breaking bonds, development of selective and mild catalytic methods for cleavage of synthetic and biopolymers (biomass), and methods for valorization of renewables into benign and non-persistent chemicals (that can be chemically degraded).

Innovation for Bio-based and Renewable Chemicals

Organizers: Isamir Martinez, Manager of Scientific Alliances & Business Engagement, ACS Green Chemistry Institute, Washington, DC, USA; Kimberly Raiford, Director, Product Management and Commercialization, Origin Materials

For almost two decades, there have been significant efforts to find innovative ways to synthesize bio-based and renewable chemicals. These efforts have offered a rich source of novel molecules, which can serve as alternative building blocks in the synthesis of intermediates currently relying on petrochemical supply chains. Consequently, bio-based and renewable chemicals offer potentially sustainable opportunities for products and processes that will advance the circular economy in a variety of chemical industries.

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