CHEM 260 : Introduction to Green Chemistry


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Introduction to the concepts and principles of Green Chemistry. Selected real world applications of Green Chemistry are presented to illustrate how these important guiding principles can be applied. The integral laboratory course provides valuable practical experience in relevant areas of the chemical sciences.

Course Overview

This is an introductory course in Green Chemistry. It covers topics that are central to Green Chemistry including an introduction to the development of Green Chemistry, definitions and metrics, prevention of pollution at source through new and sustainable synthetic methods, real world case studies including the clothing industry, enzymes as biocatalysts, renewable feedstocks as well as recycling, and pure water. Innovative group and individual coursework assignments are designed to develop skills in communication and engagement and to develop an understanding of social and environmental responsibilities within the broad area of Green Chemistry.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: Either CHEM 110 and 120, or at least B- in CHEM 110 or 120

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Develop and demonstrate knowledge pertaining to the background and development of Green Chemistry (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Understand and apply knowledge of the common metrics used in Green Chemistry applications. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Understand and apply knowledge of introductory green chemical synthetic methods, choice of solvents, atom economy, and sustainable raw materials. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Understand and explain selected real world examples of Green Chemistry including applications in the clothing industry, insecticides, pharmaceutical manufacture and anti-fouling agents. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Understand and apply the concepts of biocatalysis, with selected examples including the sustainable synthesis of adipic acid, the use of detergent proteases, and the production of healthier fats and oils by enzymatic interesterification for production oils and fats (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Develop and demonstrate knowledge about the importance of using renewable feedstocks and recycling and selected examles of these as well as the basic concepts of a "bio-refinery" (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  7. Develop skills in communication and engagement by competing a range of assignments designed to give practice and experience in developing audio-visual materials, presenting to large groups and engaging in open discussions and debates on topics relevant to Green Chemical Science. (Capability 4 and 5)
  8. Develop and demonstrate knowledge that directly impacts on the Social and Environmental Responsibilities associated with the development and application of science and technology (Capability 6)
  9. Develop critical thinking skills that will enable commercial, industrial and social practices to be analyzed from a sustainability perspective and solutions to identified problems developed. (Capability 2 and 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assignments 30% Group & Individual Coursework
Laboratories 20% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Final Exam


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for our Māori and Pacific students. Information can be found at the link:

Key Topics

(A) Introduction: (7 lectures)
The essentials of green chemistry: definitions, adverse effects of chemicals on health and the environment, history of the development of Green Chemistry, range of effects green chemists have to design against, sustainability as it relates to GC, ethical awareness.
Green chemistry and inherent hazards: risk as a function of hazard and exposure. The Grand challenges for Green Chemistry: Elimination of hazardous substances and pollution, renewable feedstocks, sustainable processes, energy. Green design: toxicity and ecotoxicity, endocrine disruption, steps to design against toxicity and test for toxicity. The definitions of Green Chemistry: implications, strengths, context of the chemical enterprise. The 12 Principles of Green chemistry: application of principles, examples.
The metrics of Green Chemistry: Determination of whether a process is green or not, atom economy, reaction mass efficiency, environmental (E) factor, use of 12 principles to measure sustainability of process, full life cycle, cradle to cradle, toxicity determination for new chemicals.. Designing sustainable solutions: general approaches, reduce stoichiometric waste, use catalysts, reduce energy consumption, better alternative solvents, new forms of biomass.
Real world Green Chemistry solutions: selected examples, e.g.
•    Synthesis of Ibuprofen (atom economy and other metrics, green synthesis, application of catalysts etc)
•    Designing an environmentally safe marine antifoulant (problems with fouling, replacement for tin compounds, bioavailability and accumulation)
•    New insecticides that are relatively non-toxic; (mode of action of traditional insecticides, toxic to all species, molting hormone mimics give species selectivity, much less toxic)

(B) Pollution Prevention (7 lectures)
New Green and sustainable synthetic methods.  An entry level overview to green synthetic methods, including waste reduction processes explained through use of synthetic reactions commonly performed in industrial settings; amide bond formation, alkene reduction and deoxychlorination.
Solvent use and alternatives to toxic solvents; mechanochemistry, ionic liquids, water, supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) and biorenewable solvents – applications to industrial settings. Solvent selection guides.
Atom economy, principles and examples
Society reliant chemicals – commodity and fine chemicals. Reliance on their production from fossil fuels and possible alternative sources such as biorenewable lignocellulosic biomass
Use of biorenewable platform chemicals in chemical synthesis, with case studies. Lignin and its potential.

(C) Sustainability/Real world Green Chemistry (7 lectures)
Real world case study: the clothing industry
•    General introduction: True cost
•    Introduction to the Textile Industry and the Chemical Industry
•    Impacts of the global textile industry
•    Sustainability challenges in the clothing industry
•    Why is the clothing industry unsustainable?
•    Sustainability issues in the clothing industry
•    Certification and industry schemes
•    Ethical and fair trade fashion
•    Sustainable clothing: the dream
•    Stain and water-resistant materials
•    Alternative chemicals in the clothing industry
•    Jean genie

(D) Biocatalysis (7 lectures)
Introduction: enzymes as whole cell biocatalysts, use of microbes as environmentally benign synthetic catalysts.
Real world examples:
•    Genetically altered e-coli to synthesise adipic acid,
•    detergent proteases,
•    healthier fats and oils by enzymatic interesterification for production oils and fats with no “trans-fats”.

(E) Renewable feedstocks, recycling (5 lectures)
Raw materials from nature: Introduction, basic “biorefinery” concepts, lignin and cellulose as potential raw materials, new chemistry required for using new feedstocks (contrast with oil/alkenes)
Real world examples of the use of renewable feedstocks:  
•    Production and use of thermal polyaspartate polymers (biodegradable alternatives to polyacrylates)
•    Development of a new method for synthesising polylactic acid from corn; (made from starch, is fully compostable, can be recycled into pure starting materials, avoids using organic solvents).
•    Preparation of propylene glycol from the glycerine by-product obtained from the production of bio-diesel; (converting a waste product into low-toxicity anti-freeze and important chemical feed-stock
•    Petretec polyester regeneration technology (scrap PTE to monomers, purification, the polymer regeneration; azeotropes)

(F) Pure water: (2 lectures)
Introduction: Looming world crisis, human population, global warming, need to recycle water.  Active pharmaceutical ingredients and compounds of emerging concern in water, general properties of AIPs and CECs, current methods of removal, advanced oxidation processes, pros and cons of all these processes from a Green Chemistry perspective.

Special Requirements

Must obtain a pass mark in both laboratory work and theory in order to pass the course.
The health and safety requirements detailed for the laboratory sessions must be adhered to.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 36 hours of lectures, 12 one hour tutorials, 12 hours of laboratory work, 42 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 48 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience or Online

This course is offered in two delivery modes:

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs and tutorials to complete and receive credit for components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs will not be available as recordings.
The course will include live online events including group discussions.
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.


Attendance is expected at scheduled online activities including tutorials to complete components of the course.
The course will include live online events including group discussions/tutorials/lectures and these will be recorded.
Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.
Where possible, study material will be released progressively throughout the course.
This course runs to the University semester timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

The delivery mode of this course may change in accordance with changes to New Zealand Government recommendations. Updates for this course will be provided on the course Canvas page. 

This course may be taken remotely, including tests and exams, if you meet Ministry of Health guidelines and receive an exemption, or are unable to attend because of border restrictions. 


Learning Resources

There is no required text book for this course. Individual lecturers for the course will indicate to students the appropriate reference material for each topic presented.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

All lectures will be recorded and will be available on Canvas.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1: All main teaching activities will be conducted on campus and in person.  

• Lectures: on campus, recorded lectures will be available.

• Labs, tutorials: on campus, remote versions will be available.  

• Exams: on campus, you must attend in person unless you are unwell or other circumstances outside your control prevent you from attending.  You must complete the exam to pass the course.

Level 2: All teaching activities are remote

• Lectures: delivered remotely, available at the timetabled time and recorded lectures will be available.

• Labs, tutorials: delivered remotely, available at the timetabled time and recorded versions will be available.  

• Tests and quizzes: delivered remotely at timetabled time.  

• Exams: delivered remotely at timetabled time. You must complete the exam to pass the course.

Level 3/4: All teaching activities are remote

• Lectures, labs, tutorials: delivered remotely, available at the timetabled time and recordings of the sessions/online versions will be available.

• Tests and quizzes: delivered remotely at timetabled time.  

• Exams: delivered remotely at timetabled time. You must complete the exam to pass the course.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 18/06/2021 10:54 a.m.