Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry

Molecular aspects of sustainability

Chemistry is key

Sustainability is the key concept in balancing societal, environmental and economic needs without compromising the progress and success of future generations. Chemistry plays an essential enabling role in developing applications and processes supporting a sustainable future.

The molecular approach to sustainability provides the underpinning molecular-level understanding and development of sustainable chemistry.

This approach focuses on:

  • higher efficiency, for instance by using catalysts, or using fewer chemicals, fewer reaction steps and less energy. 
  • reducing waste in potentially wasteful processes such as the production of complex molecules for the chemical or pharmaceutical industry, or the synthesis of transportation fuels,
  • introduction of cyclic chemistry into our energy flows, in which waste products (carbon dioxide, water) are converted back into fuels (hydrocarbons, hydrogen),
  • investigating the possibility of introducing renewable chemical building blocks into such processes,
  • understanding the fundamental molecular-level aspects of the above mentioned processes by spectroscopic and theoretical techniques.

Therefore, a successful graduate programme in sustainability critically depends on the abilities to  

  • create molecules and further develop synthetic methods;
  • unravel mechanisms and understand molecular processes and properties;
  • categorize and apprehend experimental observations; and thus
  • create unifying concepts and models, offering predictive tools for a rational design of more sustainable processes.

13 January 2014