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Sustainability: The Need for Greener Practices in the Chemical Principles I and II Laboratories

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Published on Aug 9, 2012

Sponsored by the Center for Sustainability

Green chemistry is the practice of sustainable chemistry, which ultimately impacts our environment. The experiments in Chemical Principles I and II Laboratory (CHEM 141L/142L) courses at Bridgewater State University are designed to reinforce lecture concepts, give students a hands-on approach to what they are learning in the classroom, and to teach them important skills that they need throughout their learning of the sciences. While the chemistry department has slowly incorporated lab experiments that reduce the amount of waste produced or hazards involved, many labs could still be changed or replaced to eliminate the production of hazardous waste. My goal for this project is to replace and/or modify a few lab experiments, along with their pre-lab and post-lab assignments in the CHEM141L/CHEM142L courses. My secondary goal is to unify the way the experiments are written, providing students with clearly defined laboratory goals and procedures. Through meetings with my mentor, we identified four experiments that are still in need of replacement and/or modification, due to the hazards involved and the large volumes of waste generated, and found replacement labs for three of them. Each of these replacement labs were carefully performed and replicated to ensure reproducibility of results, using nonhazardous chemicals. The wastes generated were also nonhazardous. One experiment did not have a greener substitute. This lab was then modified by reducing the amount of chemicals used in the procedure, consequently reducing the amount of waste generated. In addition to the replacement labs, we also found another experiment that could possibly be used in lower-level chemistry courses due to its simpler concepts and everyday life applications. In my efforts to improve the format of CHEM 141/142 lab experiments, I decided to adopt the same format used in Organic Chemistry I and II laboratories (CHEM343L/CHEM344L) where the experiments have very clearly stated goals and are well-organized into sections. Pre-lab and post-lab assignments were also incorporated in my write-ups. In the fall I plan to continue my research by focusing on existing lab experiments and rewriting them by following the suggested new format.

Marcella Frazier, Chemistry (Mentor: Dr. Tammy King)
Adrian Tinsley Program (ATP) for Undergraduate Research, Bridgewater State University

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