CHEM 360 : Contemporary Green Chemistry


2022 Semester One (1223) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Covers topics central to contemporary Green Chemistry such as sustainable syntheses, energy production, catalysis, pollution control, and basic toxicology. The integral laboratory course provides valuable practical experience in relevant areas of the chemical sciences.

Course Overview

This course builds on the introductory Green Chemistry course, CHEM 260, and covers in depth selected topics that are central to the concepts of Green Chemistry.  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. This course is important because it equips students with crucial knowledge and skills that are key for a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the new area of Green Chemistry. The course also provides students with  important foundational knowledge and skills to progress smoothly to higher, research-based degrees in Green Chemistry (including BSc(Hons), MSc and PhD), or alternatively, to take advantage of employment opportunities in any relevant areas where a broad knowledge of Green Chemistry and/or proficiency in critical thinking is required.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: CHEM 260

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 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding Toxicity and the endocrine system, with particular reference to the toxicity of chemicals used commercially, dose-response curves, endocrine disrupting chemicals, Green Chemistry solutions for eliminating EDCs, plastics and additives in plastics, TiPED. Real world Green Chemistry/Sustainability problems and solutions: Selected examples development of Green Chemistry as an area of chemistry (Capability 1)
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of Green Chemistry principles in organic synthesis with special emphasis on C-H functionalization, hydrogen auto-transfer and catalysis. (Capability 1)
  3. Understand sustainability issues facing the pharmaceutical industry with focus on the importance of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to health, problems with over use of APIs and antibiotics, typical design characteristics of APIs and how these characteristics lead to problems when the APIs are released into the environment, and the inefficient syntheses of many pharmaceuticals. (Capability 1)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the use of renewable and sustainably produced feedstocks, the importance recycling where appropriate, and assessment of the full costs and benefits of utilising waste and recycling. (Capability 1)
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the problems associated with energy production based on fossil carbon and the potential sustainable alternatives including hydrogen production through novel catalytic and photocatalytic processes of water splitting, CO2 reduction to CH4 and hydrocarbons, and N2 fixation to produce NH3. (Capability 1)
  6. Understand and explain the principles associated with photovoltaics and solar energy capture, including consideration within a sustainability context of the total solar energy available in practice, the diurnal problem, capturing solar energy as thermal energy or as electrical energy. (Capability 1)
  7. Understand the concepts of biocatalysts (including the use of extremophiles, mutagenesis, directed evolution, growth stimulation and disease suppression), the biorefinery concept (including the conversion of lignin to chemicals and fuels), and selected examples of the commercial use of biocatalysis. • Blue Marble energy’s anaerobic digestion technology • Chemrec's technology for second generation biofuels (methanol and DME) via pulp and paper black liquor gasification (Capability 1)
  8. 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)
  9. Develop an understanding of social and Environmental Responsibilities associated with the development and application of science and technology (Capability 6)
  10. 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 40% Individual Examination
Laboratories 20% Individual Coursework
Assignments 30% Group & Individual Coursework
Test 10% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Final Exam

Key Topics

(A) Introduction and Real world Green Chemistry/Sustainability issues  (8 lectures)
The essentials of green chemistry: Review of definitions, history of the development of Green Chemistry, adverse effects of chemicals on health and the environment, range of effects green chemists have to design against, sustainability as it relates to GC, ethical awareness, the definitions of Green Chemistry, 12 Principles of Green chemistry, the metrics of Green Chemistry,
Toxicity and the endocrine system: Introduction, the chemical enterprise, toxicity and chemicals used commercially, TiPED, the endocrine system, dose-response curves, endocrine disrupting chemicals, Green Chemistry solutions for eliminating EDCs, plastics and additives in plastics, microplastics.
Life Cycle analysis: Life Cycle Thinking and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Short LCA Examples, LCA and Green Chemistry, LCA examples and discussions: examples: i-STAT blood analyzing device, styrofoam take-away container, LCA software

(B) Green Organic synthesis (8 lectures)
C-H functionalisation
Advantages over traditional functional group manipulations
Selective reaction of Csp2-H and Csp3-H bonds; radical and transition metal mediated processes, use of directing groups and auxiliaries.
Iridium catalysed C-H borylation processes in heteroaromatic C-H functionalisation and relevance to the pharmaceutical industry
Hydrogen auto-transfer (borrowing hydrogen)
Alternative to alkylating agents (R-Br, ROTs etc.)- using safe, non-toxic alcohols as ‘electrophiles’, facile transition metal-mediated functionalisation of amines (C-N bond formation) and C-C bond formation is possible. Applications of borrowing hydrogen methodology in pharmaceutical synthesis is discussed.
Renewable feedstocks, recycling
Production of renewable feed-stocks, sustainability of commercial growing practices,  sources of waste that potentially could be utilised to make valuable products, assessment of the full costs of utilising waste and recycling vs alternative of dumping, burning, etc., sustainability considerations. Examples could include: Converting agri-waste to valuable products (e.g. winery waste to packaging etc.), development of a fully recyclable carpet; (use of polymers that can be recycled).

(C) Sustainability and the pharmaceutical industry: (4 lectures)
Introduction:  Importance of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to our health, mis-use of APIs – over prescription, factory farming and antibiotic use, antibiotic resistance etc, typical characteristics designed for in current active pharmaceutical ingredients (AOIs), how these characteristics (bio-availability, bio-active, resistance to being metabolised, etc) lead to problems when the APIs are released into the environment, APIs that are found in drinking water , inefficient syntheses of many pharmaceuticals (waste produced per kg product).  Selected examples of some of these features.

(D) Biocatalysts (6 lectures)
Introduction: Advantages and challenges of using biocatalysts in green chemistry, with a particular focus on the different immobilisation techniques to improve enzyme biocatalysts. The use of multienzyme systems in biocatalysis and in the degradation of environmental pollutants will also be discussed. 

(E) Solar energy and alternative solvents (8 lectures)
Solar energy: Modern societies are heavily reliant on cheap fossil fuel energy for electricity generation and transportation. Dwindling fossil fuel reserves and environmental concerns associated with anthropogenic CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use motivate the development of alternative and sustainable renewable energy technologies. These lectures will explore the generation of energy from solar power sources following;
Solar Power: Total solar energy available in practice, the diurnal problem
•    capturing solar energy as thermal energy,
•    Mechanism of solar cell operation and capturing solar energy as electrical energy (photovoltaics, dye sensitised solar cells, organic solar cells),
The pros and cons of solar capture technologies will be considered within a sustainability context.

Alternative solvents:
Solvents are a substantial component of chemical waste and can introduce hazards such as toxicity and flammability to chemical processes. However, the effect of solvents on the outcomes of chemical processes is often underappreciated in the search for alternatives. This lecture series will explore recent developments in the design and development of environmentally benign ‘smart’ solvents including concepts such as deep eutectic solvents and switchable polarity solvents.


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 so students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in this course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 36 hours of lectures, 24 hours of laboratory work, 12 one hour tutorials, 36 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 42 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

A remote version of the course can be made available to students located overseas because of border restrictions, or those with an exemption to study remotely

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

Learning 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.

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.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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.

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 OR  be available.  

• Tests, 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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 09/11/2021 09:57 a.m.