Green chemistry

Sustainable chemistry, also known as green chemistry, is a broad field that addresses and solves important environmental problems related to climate change. The goal of experts in this field is to support the change of industrial production toward a no-waste generation and almost zero pollution.  

  • Anja-Verena Mudring, professor at Stockholm University and director of SUCCeSS. Photo: Niklas Björling/Stockholms universitet
  • Sustainability has long been high on Stockholm University’s agenda, and the university is now taking a broader approach to tie existing sustainability research and education to the area of green chemistry.
    A new center for circular and sustainable systems (SUCCeSS) was founded at the end of 2020. It builds on the university’s existing efforts in this area, with a goal to develop both research and education, and become a leading center internationally. Moreover, a new graduate program in sustainable chemistry will be launched this fall with an introductory course in green chemistry. The university’s undergraduate program in chemistry will also weave various aspects of sustainable chemistry into several courses. Adam Slabon, assistant professor in inorganic chemistry at the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, and director of the new program, is happy with this focus on sustainable chemistry: “I see sustainable chemistry as the future for Stockholm University and this is in accordance with the international commitment Stockholm University signed to implement the sustainable development goals.”

  • Adam Slabon, director of the new program.
  • Sustainable production and recycling
    Paul Anastas is the director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale University, and he now holds the King Carl XVI Gustaf Professorship in Environmental Science at Stockholm University. As one of the founders of green chemistry, he co-authored a book that formulated 12 principles to guide chemists to reduce the environmental impact of chemical processes.
    One example of sustainable chemistry research at the university is expressed in a recently published article that envisions a sustainable process for recycling technologies of lithium -ion batteries, operating on the principles of green chemistry.
    Mika Sipponen, assistant professor in the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry of Stockholm University, points out: “In a linear economy your goal is to postpone the accumulation of waste within time, but you cannot prevent waste generation. The counterpart is a circular economy which is based on sustainable production and recycling aiming at zero-waste generation.” There is no patented recycling process for lithium-ion batteries that fulfills the circular requirements. The group of researchers is therefore active in developing sustainable methods for cobalt recovery and creating new materials, such as catalysts, from lithium-ion batteries waste.

  • Sustainable recycling of Li-ion batteries within circular principles. “Secondary mining” of used batteries is used as source of critical raw materials such as cobalt instead of exploiting natural resources. Image: Bruno Manzolli
  • More than just chemistry
    Many areas in society benefit from chemistry, and much research has focused on reducing costs for industry. “Through this initiative, we are clarifying the link between sustainable chemistry and other research areas within circular systems. Linking different disciplines is necessary in order to address the major societal challenge of transitioning to circularity so that we can meet climate goals,” says Berit Olofsson, professor and dean of chemistry and chair of the SUCCeSS board.
    As much as possible, SUCCeSS will tie together the university’s researchers in different fields and collaborate with the private sector to impact society at large.
    “Chemistry can be seen as a tool to contribute to a more sustainable society. In this work, we must not limit our thinking to drainpipes; instead we should work together to find solutions. I think that could happen at SUCCeSS. It can be a platform where researchers can collaborate, but also a platform for education about sustainable chemistry,” says Anja-Verena Mudring, professor at the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry and director of SUCCeSS. Through the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University has also become a member of Beyond Benign, a U.S.-based platform for education and knowledge dissemination in the field of green chemistry.

  • Read more about the new master’s program in "Sustainable Chemistry at Stockholm University"

  • For more info on the university, see "Stockholm University"