Beyond Benign

HIgher Ed

CUR HE Organic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry

A Guide to Green Chemistry Experiments for Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Labs

The resource guide features measurable benefits from implementing greener alternative organic chemistry labs, including waste reduction, economic benefits, and hazard reduction. The guide also provides an assessment of some qualitative benefits of green chemistry implementation, including energy efficiency, use of renewable resources, and use of safer solvents. To download a full copy of the Resource Guide, please contact us, or go to the following link:

Case Study: Alcohol Dehydration

The dehydration reaction of alcohols to generate alkenes are commonly performed reactions in the Organic Chemistry laboratory. The reaction generally proceeds by heating the alcohols in the presence of a strong acid, such as sulfuric or phosphoric acid, at high temperatures. Both acids can cause serious burns to the skin and eyes. A greener alcohol dehydration reaction is outlined in this case study, which uses a reusable catalyst and avoids the use of concentrated acids.

Case Study: Greener Grignard Reaction

A greener approach to a traditional Grignard Reaction has been implemented by Dr. Abby O’Connor at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ). The greener approach reduces the use of undesirable ethers, and avoids the use of hexanes, and magnesium.

Case Study: Greener Oxidation

Oxidation reactions are commonly performed in the organic chemistry laboratory course. The reactions are typically performed using chromium compounds, such as pyridinium chlorochromate (PCC), one of the most common oxidizing reagents. Chromium compounds are known to be carcinogenic and many also have reproductive and developmental hazards associated with them. A greener method for performing this reaction is described that uses a molybdenum catalyst.

Lab: Greener Alcohol Dehydration

Chemistry Concepts: dehydration reactions, catalysis, microwave energy

Developed by Irv Levy (Gordon College)

Lab: Greener Oxidation

Chemistry Concepts: catalysis, oxidation reaction

Developed by Irv Levy (Gordon College)

Lab: Greening of a Chemical Preparation

Chemistry Concepts: organic synthesis, aldol condensation

Developed by Irv Levy (Gordon College)

Lab: Polylactic acid (PLA) Molecular Recycling

Chemistry Concepts: acid-hydrolysis, base-hydrolysis, catalysis, microwave energy, titration, microbiology

Developed by Rich Gurney (Simmons College)

Kits are available from Flinn Scientific.

Lab: Thymine Photoresist Patterning

Chemistry Concepts: polymers, photoresists, photodimerization

Developed by Beyond Benign