Contributed by Dr. Keying Ding and Dr. Gary White, faculty advisors and Club President Tim Chitpanya, Middle Tennessee State University
Our chapter’s interest in green chemistry began in the fall of 2006 with a seminar at a club meeting. In his presentation “Green Chemistry: Bringing the Real World into the Chemistry Labs” Dr. Gautam Bhattacharyya from Clemson University introduced us to the principles of green chemistry. After the seminar he led a workshop where we learned about the activities in which we could participate that would give us Green Chemistry Chapter status. Since that time our green student chapter activities have included green chemistry demonstrations, educating the public using different forms of media and inviting outside speakers to give seminars.
The source for one of our chemical demonstrations "The Greening of the Blue Bottle" appeared in an article in the Journal of Chemical Education. We brought this demonstration to a local middle school to illustrate how waste could be minimized in a chemical demonstration.
At the 2011 annual homecoming parade the club assembled a golf cart float with a green chemistry theme. Club members on the float distributed flyers which described the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.
At a club meeting in March 2015, Dr. Keying Ding, one of our faculty advisors presented a green chemistry demonstration that used super critical CO2 to extract D-Limonene from citrus fruits. By creating a pressurized environment, the D-Limonene was separated from the rest of the fruit and collected into the bottom of the test tube. Students learned that this same method can be used as a more environmentally friendly solvent for dry cleaning as compared to more traditional solvents such as hydrocarbons.
On Earth Day 2015, a green chemistry poster was set up in the main atrium of our new Science Building. It included information on bio-renewable and bio-degradable polymers that can be used in everyday items. The students also presented some bio-renewable plastic ware made from polylactic acid (PLA). Members talked to those who were interested and aimed to spread awareness about these new products. By spreading awareness of these biodegradable products, people become more aware of the impact they have when they dispose of items that do not decompose.
This year the Chemistry club invited Dr. Chris Jones from Georgia Tech as the 19th Annual Golden Goggles guest speaker. The “Golden Goggles” lecture has become one of our club’s signature events. Well-known speakers, usually from higher education, share timely topics; past speakers have discussed therapeutic cloning, herbal remedies and green chemistry. We invited Dr. Jones to share his great knowledge on green chemistry and technology development for CO2 (carbon dioxide) separation and conversion. This event was open to the local ACS section and community.
There are several faculty members at MTSU chemistry department being actively involved in green chemistry research. Such involvement indeed broadens up their research and funding opportunities. For example, Dr. Ding’s group is working on development of earth abundant metal catalysts for green organic transformations. As a chemistry club co-advisor, she has been encouraging students to participate in green chemistry outreach and research activities. She’s been successful on getting several internal sustainable campus fee funds and a NSF grant which supports her green chemistry activities. One chemistry club student (Xyan Aguilar) is working in Ding’s group on one of these projects.
We strongly agree that student chapter’s activities can encourage the incorporation of green chemistry into the curriculum. Dr. Ding is planning to open a new green chemistry course in the near future to undergraduate students. We will not only teach green chemistry principles, but also encourage students to participate in outreach and research activities.
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