Acfas 2012 report #2: Chemistry can be green, too

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Headway has reported on the greening of chemistry in the past, and at last week’s conference of the Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas), McGill chemistry associate professor Audrey Moores talked about the latest advances in creating a non-toxic catalyst to accelerate chemical synthesis reactions.

For centuries, the magic of chemistry required ingredients that were unhealthy to handle, difficult to dispose of safely, and often downright dangerous. Catalysts, for example, are usually made of toxic heavy metals. They’re also a necessary part of chemical processes used to create, among other things, medicines. Moores and her team have been developing alternative methods to get the same ends but through greener means. They recently discovered that iron nanoparticles and iron oxide can be used as catalysts in hydrogenation reaction, which is important in the pharmaceutical sector. And the solvents in the reaction are simple and safe, too: ethanol and good old water.

More info can be found on the Moores Research Group’s page.

Audrey Moores’ research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de recherche du Québec, Canada Research Chairs, Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Centre de Chimie Verte et Catalyse, Nanoiron and McGill University.

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