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www.CCIQS; The (not-quite) official website


The Joint Center for Sustainable Chemistry Research (Centro Conjunto de Investigación en Química Sustentable) was born in 2008 as a project between the Institute of Chemistry from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the Chemistry School from the Mexico State Autonomous University aimed to the development of research in green and sustainable chemistry as well as that of human resources trained in the same areas.

I have found through the statistics page in this blog that CCIQS is a somewhat popular search term but unfortunately there is still no website available due to some technical dificulties. Therefore I here upload the link to our proto-website (only Spanish for the time being, sorry)

I hope this helps people find some info about what we do and how to get in touch with us. Opportunities for scholarships are available both for graduate and undergraduate students. If you are interested in working with us, please get in touch with the researcher of your choice and ask for any available positions; we look forward to having more students to interact with!

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Green Chemistry and sustainable development


https://joaquinbarroso.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/sustainability.jpg?w=300As I recently pointed out in an interview for a webinar titled The Future We Create, (sponsored by the Dow Chemical Co.) I believe we must clearly differentiate the concepts of Green Chemistry and Sustainable chemistry or we take the risk of confusing purpose and procedure; instead, having them both clearly defined we can use their definitions as a working frame in order to solve the ongoing environmental problems our society is facing.

While I consider them both a lifestyle in science, one of the utmost relevance, Green Chemistry is oriented towards the way we perform chemistry in order to achieve a sustainable chemical industry. Chemicals are part of the human revolution, understood as that in which the human race has transformed his own environment and surroundings to an amazing -and yet alarming- extent; so chemicals and their chemistry, are not going anywhere. Perhaps we haven’t performed this revolution in the best possible way; and by that I mean a way in which we could keep on transforming our world and our surrounding environment practically forever without actually damaging but blending with them, incorporating the natural cycle of renewable resources in our own transformations. Sustainability is the way by which a process can endure over a long period of time and it requires a balance between the intake of resources and the outcome of products and byproducts, which ideally should blend back into the environment, or even yet more ideally, help in the coupled equilibrium of the generation of the resources needed in the intake of the same processes that generate them in the first place. It is a matter of balance, but more importantly about cycles; cycles that couple with one another in an economically, socially and chemically productive way. Only with this approach will our current society endure for the generations to come and will gradually encompass a larger number of individuals, minimizing the population whose survival is in danger.

Sustainable chemistry is the philosophical approach, the ethical code if you please, with which the ongoing transformations can still be performed while the damage to the environment, namely our ecosystems, is brought to a minimum in order to maintain our industry and the benefits therefrom for generations to come and spread to a larger scale. But this is not only a mater of environmentalist nature, it is also an economical matter; Sustainable developement has to bring forward those who were already left behind; societies that now in the 21st century are still struggling with famine and disease and furthermore now face an even worse scenario when it comes to water. Also in urban areas sustainability can be the answer to job creations. Companies must increase their profits year after year, no doubt about it, but doing so in a sustainable and socially responsible way can ensure larger growths over larger periods of time while sacrificing the immediate profit for the long-term benefit.

Computational chemistry plays a key role in the paradigm shift towards a sustainable chemical industry. The QSAR approach allows us to analyze the physicochemical properties of a very large number of compounds in less time of what ordinary chemistry would take. Computational chemistry gives the researcher a deeper insight of the electronic effects of any given chemical process through the mathematical modeling and computing of various properties. Computational chemistry based QSAR, alongside with combinatorial chemistry and high throughput screening methods are able to do the work of a thousand chemists in less than a year, saving resources, time and also making a larger exploration of the chemical space relevant to the process under study.

Nature has been sustainable on its own with no better example than photosynthesis. Photosynthetic organisms use CO2 as intake and transform H2O during that process into O2 which is expelled as a byproduct which is then inhaled by animal organisms which use it in their metabolism to produce CO2 as a waste product. The fragile equilibrium goes on and on provided other equilibria are kept in balance (physical conditions such as pressure and temperature).

Of course, as Kermit the Frog has previously stated:

kermie

But it should be! Right now it ain’t because we haven’t done enough efforts to perform a paradigm shift. in schools, in our jobs; our everyday lives. it will be very expensive yet the cost of negligence will be even higher and paid by the generations to come.

Many things have been written about sustainability; we should all read at least some of them…

Please share your thoughts and practical ideas for a sustainable future within the framework of your own green chemistry paradigm in the comments section.

2011, International Year of Chemistry
http://www.chemistry2011.org

The Future We Create (Part II, The webinar)


The Future of Sustainable Chemistry

As part of the ongoing events of the International Year of Chemistry, I was interviewed last month for a webinar titled “The Future of Sustainable Chemistry” which in turn is part of a broader series of webinars called “The Future We Create“. These events are sponsored mainly by the DOW Chemical Co. and organized by the 4goodmedia organization as a way to stir up the debate among a broad spectrum of scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians and pretty much anybody willing to pay attention, about important issues of our time. In this webinar, the role of chemistry as part of the solution to the sustainability problem, was explored. Here is my contribution to the event

The official site and full length video (about an hour long, 30 speakers) is available at Future We Create. I strongly recommend the talks of Peter Adler, Paul Alivisatos, Harry Gray and Martyn Poliakoff, which were some of my favorite.

Despite the popular belief, chemistry is not to be feared but to be learned. We can’t get rid of chemicals, every product we use, every service we hire, requires at some point to cross paths with the chemical industry. But the chemical industry needs to address the problems it generates in our environment on the long run and it is there where green and sustainable chemistry come not as a new branch of chemistry but as a way of doing chemistry.

Needless to say chemistry has transformed our world; and it can do it again.

 

2011, International Year of Chemistry
http://www.chemistry2011.org

Green and Sustainable Chemistry Symposium here at CCIQS


Next week, on december 8th, the Joint Center for Research in Sustainable Chemistry (to which I am ascribed) will host a Symposium on Green and Sustainable Chemistry in which German Alumni -almost exclusively from Mexico- will participate with talks on the impact and development of new techniques on green chemistry. We’ll be honored with the visit of Prof. Dr. Reinhard. W. Hoffmann from the Marburg University, who will give a lecture on strategic planning of organic synthesis. Let us remember that green and sustainable chemistry is a working philosophy and not a branch of chemistry; is a way of undertaking our daily tasks through ways that have as little impact on the environment as possible (less energy spent; less by-products; a narrower spectra of organic solvents used; less purification steps; etc.). I will make sure to post some more information after the event has been held. The full program -in Spanish- for the event can be viewed at http://www.cciqs.unam.mx

This is a major event for our young research center and a great opportunity to get in touch with major researchers in the field both foreign and domestic, not to mention an excellent opportunity for young students to start thinking green.

Kudos to Dr. Bernardo Frontana and Dr. Monica Moya (current head of the academic community here at CCIQS) for the organization of this symposium which hopefully will become a periodic event at our institution.

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