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The University of Southampton

CHEM6103 Sustainable Chemistry

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the role of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in climate change, and be able to reproduce a simple atmospheric model
  • Discuss possible methods of reducing CO2 emissions and analyse their respective merits
  • Discuss how energy and chemical feedstocks can be sustainably sourced from either coal or biomass
  • Understand the chemistry of nuclear power generation, and extraction of metals
  • Assess the likely sustainability of medium and large scale chemical and energy related processes.
  • Elucidate the nature of catalytic processes and their impact in the context of Green Chemistry (E-factor, atom efficiency, F3 factory).
  • Rationalise the availability and utilisation of renewable feedstocks and their influence on energy efficiency and the environment
  • Discuss the role of porous architectures in the context of driving selectivity in chemical transformations.
  • Review the availability of alternate solvents and make informed choices based on Chemistry principles


1) Energy and materials demands on natural resources – population and economic growth. Assessment of energy demand and supply. Carbon and nitrogen cycles. Peak Oil. Medium term sustainability. Climate change and climate modelling. 2) Mainstream inorganic materials: Iron and aluminium. Chemistry of manufacture. Energy and resource consequences. 3) Materials for renewable energy production: a) Nuclear energy. Actinide availability and chemistry patterns. Nuclear fuel. Materials for nuclear energy production. b) Carbon capture and storage with coal, and C1 feedstock chemistry from syngas c) Photovoltaics and other alternative energy sources. Silicon manufacture from sand. Semiconductors for photo-electric effect. Alternatives to silicon. Conducting glasses. d) Energy and feedstocks from Biomass e) Balancing renewable variability with energy storage options. 4) Green versus sustainable chemistry: Principles & legislation; Atom economy, E factor, F3 factory; Reaction efficiency and selectivity; Waste: problems and prevention; Safety and toxicity; Role of catalysis. 5) Methods and tools for sustainable chemistry: Ionic/fluorous liquids; Supercritical solvents; Bio-inspired, biomimetic and biocatalysis; Homogeneous & heterogeneous catalysis; Porous materials – synthesis characterisation and applications; Photocatalysis; Process intensification; Solvent-free systems. 6) Renewable resources: Syngas and hydrogen economy; Biomass and hybrid biofuels; Chemicals from renewable feedstocks; Alternatives to fossil fuels; Chemistry using microwaves. 7) Designing sustainable processes – selected industrial case studies: Propylene oxide; Nylon production; Biodiesel; Vitamin B3; Polyethylene.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, problem-solving workshops with group working, Presentations and Report writing

Follow-up work32
Practical classes and workshops4
Completion of assessment task40
Preparation for scheduled sessions36
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

N. Armaroli and V Balzani (2011). Energy for a sustainable World. 

D.J.C. MacKay (2009). Sustainable energy – without the hot air. 

P. T. Anastas and T. C. Williamson (1998). Green chemistry – frontiers in benign chemical synthesis and processes. 

N.E. Carpenter (2014). Chemistry of sustainable energy. 

J. T Houghton (2009). Global warming: the complete briefing. 

M. Lancaster (2010). Green chemistry – an introductory text. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: CHEM2015 AND CHEM2016

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