Green, Greener, Greenest—Sustainability at All Points of the Analytical Process

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Mary Ellen McNally and Doug Raynie covered green chemistry and sustainable separations, from sample preparation through analysis with chromatographic techniques, at EAS 2023.

In its most recent edition of a survey that has been asked of its readers periodically since 1991, LCGC North America posed the question: Are you concerned with the environmental, health, and safety effects of the solvents used during sample preparation?

A whopping 88.6% of respondents said yes.

“Think about that. We can’t get 88% of Americans to agree on anything! So it is a concern,” said Doug Raynie, the author of that "Sample Prep Perspectives" column for LCGC North America. Raynie, who is recently retired from South Dakota State University, presented a lecture called “Green Sample Preparation: It’s All Green” at the Eastern Analytical Symposium & Exposition 2023 (EAS) on Tuesday, November 14, in Plainsboro, New Jersey, USA (1).

Raynie’s talk followed one by Mary Ellen McNally of FMC Corporation, “Evaluating Your Method from a Sustainable Perspective,” that served as a review of the history of green analytical chemistry concepts—from the original goals to the 12 principles to the Green Analytical Procedure Index, AGREE, and AGREEprep (2).

What McNally’s lecture made clear is that separation scientists may not realize what prevents their experiments from becoming fully green, and also, how quickly “penalty points” can add up.

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“All the things that we’re used to seeing in our analytical methods are not considered green,” McNally said.

That being said, according to McNally, it may be too early in the history of green analytical chemistry to tell which set of guiding principles may predominantly win out in the long term.

But the overall objectives, McNally and Raynie agree, remain the same: more automation, higher efficiency, and reduced usage of both solvents and energy. The current debate is how best to achieve those goals.

References

(1) McNally, M. E. Evaluating Your Method from a Sustainable Perspective. Presented at the Eastern Analytical Symposium & Exposition 2023, Plainsboro, New Jersey, November 14, 2023.

(2) Raynie, D. Green Sample Preparation: It’s All Green. Presented at the Eastern Analytical Symposium & Exposition 2023, Plainsboro, New Jersey, November 14, 2023.