Green Chemistry Initiative

at the University of Toronto

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Whether you're a graduate student or faculty member looking to reduce waste in your own research, or just someone interested in learning more about green chemistry, the GCI has outlined some helpful tools and resources below for all interested individuals.

The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry

GCI Constitution

For our recent workshop the GCI also put together an easy-to-incorporate list of 10 useful tools that you can use to make your research greener. Check it out here: Simple Techniques to Make Everyday Lab Work Greener

Pfizer Solvent Guide for selection of environmentally-friendly solvents:

Replacement Solvents

For more details about how these categories were determined as well as additional information please read the full paper, which can be found at:
Pfizer Solvent Selection Guide

Development of GlaxoSmithKline’s Reagent Guides – Embedding Sustainability into Reagent Selection:

Replacement Solvents

For more details about how these categories were determined as well as additional information please read the full paper, which can be found at: GlaxoSmithKline Reagent Guide

Also of great value is the GSK Solvent Selection Guide

Solvent Selection:

A Convenient Guide To Help Select Replacement Solvents For Dichloromethane In Chromatography

Joshua P. Taygerly , Larry M. Miller , Alicia Yee and Emily A. Peterson

Green Chem., 2012,14, 3020-3025

Replacement Solvents


One of the largest contributors to chlorinated solvent waste in medicinal chemistry is chromatography. A set of "drug-like" compounds was employed to compare the relative eluting strengths of greener solvent systems. Disclosed herein is an experimentally-derived solvent selection guide to aid chemists in choosing greener solvents for chromatographic purification, with a particular focus on reducing dichloromethane usage.

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Alternative Solvents: Shades of Green

James H. Clark and Stewart J. Tavener

Organic Process Research & Development 2007, 11, 149-155

Alternative Solvents


The use of alternative reaction solvents is reviewed in terms of life cycle. Supercritical CO2, ionic liquids, fluorous solvents, water, and renewable organics are compared on the basis of their solvency, ease of use, reusability, health and safety, environmental impact, and economic cost.

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What is a green solvent? A comprehensive framework for the environmental assessment of solvents

Christian Capello, Ulrich Fischer and Konrad Hungerbuhler

Green Chemistry, 2007,9, 927-934.

Life-Cycle Assessment of Organic Solvents


Solvents define a major part of the environmental performance of processes in chemical industry and also impact on cost, safety and health issues. The idea of "green" solvents expresses the goal to minimize the environmental impact resulting from the use of solvents in chemical production. Here the question is raised of how to measure how "green" a solvent is. We propose a comprehensive framework for the environmental assessment of solvents that covers major aspects of the environmental performance of solvents in chemical production, as well as important health and safety issues. The framework combines the assessment of substance-specific hazards with the quantification of emissions and resource use over the full life-cycle of a solvent. The proposed framework is demonstrated on 26 organic solvents. Results show that simple alcohols (methanol, ethanol) or alkanes (heptane, hexane) are environmentally preferable solvents, whereas the use of dioxane, acetonitrile, acids, formaldehyde, and tetrahydrofuran is not recommendable from an environmental perspective. Additionally, a case study is presented in which the framework is applied for the assessment of various alcohol–water or pure alcohol mixtures used for solvolysis of p-methoxybenzoyl chloride. The results of this case study indicate that methanol–water or ethanol–water mixtures are environmentally favourable compared to pure alcohol or propanol–water mixtures. The two applications demonstrate that the presented framework is a useful instrument to select green solvents or environmentally sound solvent mixtures for processes in chemical industry. The same framework can also be used for a comprehensive assessment of new solvent technologies as soon as the present lack of data can be overcome.

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Searching For Green Solvents

Philip G. Jessop

Green Chem., 2011,13, 1391-1398

Green Solvents


Academic research in the area of green solvents is focused on neither the industries that use solvents most nor the types of solvents that the research community believes have the best hope of reducing solvent-related environmental damage. Those of us who are primarily motivated by a desire to reduce such damage would do well to look at the major uses of solvents, to determine the problems that currently make those applications less-than-green and focus our research efforts on potential solutions to those problems. As a contribution to such efforts, I present four grand challenges in the field of green solvents: finding a sufficient range of green solvents, recognizing whether a solvent is actually green, finding an easily-removable polar aprotic solvent and eliminating distillation.

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Sanofi’s Solvent Selection Guide: A Step Toward More Sustainable Processes

Denis Prat, Olivier Pardigon, Hans-Wolfram Flemming, Sylvie Letestu, Véronique Ducandas, Pascal Isnard, Eberhard Guntrum, Thomas Senac, Stéphane Ruisseau, Paul Cruciani and Patrik Hosek

Org. Process Res. Dev., 2013, 17, 1517–1525

Sanofi Guide


Sanofi’s solvent selection guide helps chemists in early development select sustainable solvents that will be accepted in all production sites. Solvents are divided into four classes, from “recommended” to “banned”. This ranking is derived from Safety, Health, Environmental, Quality, and Industrial constraints. Each solvent has its own ID card that indicates the overall ranking, H, S & E hazard bands, as well as its ICH limit, physical properties, cost, and substitution advice.

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Reagent Selection:

Substitute It Now (SIN) List

378 common industrial chemicals designated as Very High Concern by European Union Chemical Secretariat.

Green chemistry tools to influence a medicinal chemistry and research chemistry based organization

Kim Alfonsi , Juan Colberg , Peter J. Dunn , Thomas Fevig , Sandra Jennings , Timothy A. Johnson , H. Peter Kleine , Craig Knight , Mark A. Nagy , David A. Perry and Mark Stefaniak.

Green Chem., 2008,10, 31-36

This is the same paper that you will find Pfizer's Solvent Selection Guide. In the second half of the paper the author's describe how they try to choose reagents for various organic transformations and suggest strategies for other researchers to do the same.

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Reaction / Process Evaluation Tools:

ACS Process Mass Intensity Calculator

Process mass intensity = quantity of raw materials input (kg) / quantity of bulk API out (kg)

Process is all steps of a synthetic path from commonly available materials to the final bulk active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).

Raw materials input is all materials, including water, that are used directly in the process of synthesizing, isolating, and purifying the API final form.

Bulk API out is the final form of the active ingredient that was produced in the synthesis, dried to the expected specification.

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How To Calculate Atom Economy

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Choosing the Greenest Synthesis: A Multivariate Metric Green Chemistry Exercise

Sean M. Mercer, John Andraos, and Philip G. Jessop

J. Chem. Educ., 2012, 89 (2), pp 215–220

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Alternative Processes:

Microwave Chemistry For Inorganic Nanomaterials Synthesis

Idalia Bilecka and Markus Niederberger

Nanoscale, 2010,2, 1358-1374

Microwave Chemistry


This Feature Article gives an overview of microwave-assisted liquid phase routes to inorganic nanomaterials. Whereas microwave chemistry is a well-established technique in organic synthesis, its use in inorganic nanomaterials' synthesis is still at the beginning and far away from having reached its full potential. However, the rapidly growing number of publications in this field suggests that microwave chemistry will play an outstanding role in the broad field of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. This article is not meant to give an exhaustive overview of all nanomaterials synthesized by the microwave technique, but to discuss the new opportunities that arise as a result of the unique features of microwave chemistry. Principles, advantages and limitations of microwave chemistry are introduced, its application in the synthesis of different classes of functional nanomaterials is discussed, and finally expected benefits for nanomaterials' synthesis are elaborated.

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Green Chemistry Organizations and Networks:

Canadian Green Chemistry and Engineering Network (CGCEN)

Canadian Green Chemistry and Engineering Network (CGCEN) Website

American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute

American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute Website

Green Chemistry Blogs:

Advancing Green Chemistry

A blog about green chemistry related issues and news. It's updated pretty frequently and they generally post pretty interesting things as well as link to useful resources.

Advancing Green Chemistry Website


A blog about green chemistry that is more focused on recent green chemistry publications.

GreenChemBlog Website

Other Green Student Groups:

Green at the University of Arizona

This new group is inspiring their own University to look at green chemistry differently!

Green Website

Great Lakes Green Chemistry Student Network

The Great Lakes Green Chemistry Student Network is a great resource just like the GCI for sharing and learning about Green Chemistry! Check them out on Facebook!

Great Lakes Green Chemistry Student Network - Facebook Page

Sustainable Engineers Association

SEA is for passionate individuals who are interested in increasing the awareness in sustainable development.

SEA Website

U of T Environmental Resource Network (UTERN)

UTERN has put together a comprehensive list of all of the green and environmentally focused groups at each of the UofT campuses and their contact information.

UTERN's Green Contact List


Green Chemistry Resource Exchange

A searchable list of papers, tools and databases relating to green chemistry.

Green Chemistry Resource Exchange Website

Greener Education Materials for Chemists (GEMS) Database

A list of green chemistry related resources including laboratory exercises, lecture materials, course syllabi and multimedia content that illustrate chemical concepts important for green chemistry.

Greener Education Materials for Chemists Website

Green Chemistry Educational Resources:

ACS Green Chemistry Videos

ACS Green Chemistry Videos Website

ACS List of Green Chemistry Education Resources

Books, online resources, experiments and activities.

ACS Education Resources Website

ACS Pharmaceutical Roundtable

A list of resources and relevant news for pharmaceutical industries and research partners.

ACS Pharmaceutical Roundtable Website

Pollution Prevention by Utilizing Green Chemistry

An online guide developed by the Ohio State Environmental Protection Agency.

A Short Summary Sheet

Full Annotated Presentation

UofT Sustainability Office

Find out more about how UofT is trying to work towards a greener university.

UofT Sustainability Office Website

Favorite Journals:

Green Chemistry

A searchable list of papers, tools and databases relating to green chemistry.

Green Chemistry Website

Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering

Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering Website

Climate Change and the Environment

ACS Climate Science Toolkit

The fundamental science to help you understand and communicate climate science

Climate Toolkit