On July 15, a paper titled “Sustainable Chromatography (an oxymoron?)” by the medicinal chemistry subgroup of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable was published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Green Chemistry. Flash chromatography is a significant source of solvent waste in both industrial and academic synthetic organic labs. The paper discusses approaches for making flash chromatography more sustainable and less time consuming and alternatives to traditional flash chromatography. The authors also present opportunities for avoiding chromatography altogether with the aim of presenting ideas for reducing waste generation during synthesis. A high-level compound isolation decision tree was created to assist chemists in avoiding chromatography or mitigate the waste generated from chromatographic purification. Furthermore, the paper is packed with practical ideas for laboratories to reduce their waste, ranging from how to replace solvents like DCM (dichloromethane, a toxic and highly volatile solvent commonly used in chromatography) and how to reuse pre-packed columns.
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