Closing the Loop on Critical Elements

Honored Contributor
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Organizers: David J. C. Constable, Science Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute; Xianlai Zeng, Associate Professor, School of Environment, Tsinghua University


There is a growing list of elements that are considered strategic metals; they are rare, expensive, and heavily relied upon for electronics, energy and chemistry. The current methods of extracting, purifying and using these metals is unsustainable and as these materials approach impending extinction from the supply chain while escalating environmental and socioeconomic costs across the world, it is critical to identify low-cost and abundant alternatives, or sustainable technologies to recover, recycle and reuse these elements. In general, there have been few chemistry alternatives that could recreate the performance of these metals in a variety of fundamental applications.


This session will showcase innovators who are creating alternative chemistries and chemical technology approaches that can increase the sustainable reuse and recycle of these critical elements, or provide comparable functional, commercially viable materials for a variety of applications. In addition this session will cover how cyclical chemistry is proposed to close the loop from the extraction of material to end-of-life recycling.


We will have an in-depth presentation from Dr. Xianlai Zeng of Tsinghua University on the emergence of cyclical chemistry as it relates to green chemistry, closed-loop supply chain theory and industrial ecology at different scales. We propose that cyclical chemistry can address three inter-related problems:  resource depletion, over reliance of linear economies and environmental pollution. In doing so, cyclical chemistry will play an increasing role in closing the loop and enabling a smooth transition to a circular economy and society.

We look forward to discussing this topic more with you at the conference!


This event will take place at the 23rd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference/9th Annual Conference on Green & Sustainable Chemistry on Thursday, June 13 from 2:00 PM to 5:05 PM at the Lake Anne, Hyatt Regency Reston, VA.