50 Replies Latest reply on Jul 27, 2011 3:10 PM by Paul Comet

    Sustainability in the Curriculum

    Andy Jorgensen

      At the ACS San Francisco meeting I am giving a talk entitled: "Sustainability - Not Just Another Addition To Our Syllabi."

      Please share your ideas on this topic - either on this discussion board, or directly to me at andy.jorgensen@utoledo.edu

      Your contribution will be attributed in the talk.

      Thank you in advance.

      Andy

        • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
          Paul Comet

          Dear Andrew,

          As my post indicates, it may be that there is as yet no general theory of "sustainability". However  I have worked out a partial solution which I will share with the sustainability stakeholders group, hopefully at the meeting. The work really needs to be published in a peer reviewed journal for falsification purposes, though an earlier incarnation has been published in C&EN news as a letter.

          Comet,P.A., (2007) “ A plan for sustainability”. C&EN Aug. 2007 p. 6 & 8.

          • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
            Paul Comet
            1. Andrew,
            2. I see the following sequence being implemented :-
              .(1) Moles of fossil fuel CO2 emitted are taxed or offset by moles of carbon fixed from the current carbon cycle. Municipal industrial and agricultural waste are used as sources of liquid fuels and electricity. The system remains carbon positive. Existing energy infrastructure & automobiles are retained but modified.

              (2) Waste, solar,algae and wind derived energy become dominant. Carbon neutrality is established. Biogasoline, char, sewergas & solar/wind power (electricity) steadily replace fossil fuels.

              (3) Disassociation or electrolysis of water to H2 and O2, better storage batteries and related technologies that could be used to store energy from wind or solar (or perform an industrial function on an itinerant basis). Thus isolated wind turbines or solar based steam turbines that run only intermittently could store that energy by electrolyzing water to make hydrogen. The stored hydrogen can be used as fuel or a valuable chemical feedstock. Iceland uses a related geyser - based approach. Many other uses could be suggested for excess energy production that is too isolated for power line extensions to the main grid. By collecting the products of electrolysis such as hydrogen or metals, the energy could be stored. Alternatively, useful manufactured materials such as unfired ceramics (which could wait until sufficient energy has being stored, then automatically fired). The batteries from electric cars could be left to be charged wherever sporadic solar/wind energy is available. Electric fuel cell & storage technology becomes dominant in transportation. Most organic waste is converted into H2 using water shift reaction. A hydrogen energy- based infrastructure is gradually created.

              (4) When enough energy is available from solar,algal or wind resources for general consumption, then CO2 could be removed and stored as char and charcoal for soil additives. (Artificial recreation of coal). Syngas from waste-based power plants could be converted into plastic construction materials. City waste is converted to H2. Fertilizer is given to farmers in return for storing organic waste as char. A carbon negative environment would become established.
            3. Further to your question Andrew,
              Imagine a tiny cartoon planetoid ; there are lots of trees on this planetoid which is also similar to earth in that it has a coal seam which the planetoidians use for fuel (carbon positive). Every year the trees shed their leaves in the winter & if the trees in my yard are anything to go by; the leaves are entirely disentegrated by bugs & molds in the fall. The inhabants notice that CO2 levels are rising in their atmosphere as the coal seam is used up & get worried as the climate starts to change (hotter) so instead of coal, they try using the dried leaves (carbon neutral) as fuel & their planetoids CO2 levels stabilize as there is now no net addition of CO2 to the system from the planetoids active carbon cycle. Eventually, the inhabitants figure out that if they use hydrogen from water as their chief fuel, using sunlight as the energy source in H2 production, and char the leaves instead of using them as fuel, then CO2 from their (current enhanced) carbon cycle could be entirely removed by just sprinkling the CO2 as nearly indestructible charred leaves (carbon negative) on the ground as a soil conditioner. Though there are a lot of references to biochar in the literature as a mode of CO2 removal; this would not work in reducing our own planets CO2 levels until fossil fuels are also eliminated. You have to visualise the system holistically.
            4. Can anybody recommend where I can get this stuff published?

              • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                Radoslav Bozov

                Dear Paul,

                 

                1. I don't think water electrolysis would work energeticly.

                 

                2. Algies currently can be designed to produce ethanol, whihc is not as efficcient as we need an energy source to be.

                 

                3. Our largest problems is non carbon dioxide emmiting sources, but rather compunds such as Methane and various waste compounds. CO2 can be controlled a lot easier by implementing green zones, but desigining engines that can strore light in Methane burn it to carbon CO2 and then reduced it to mathane with novel biosystems.

                 

                4. We can design a system that can storge teh energy of light into methane molecules.

                 

                5. Without understanding carbon cyclling within living matter carbon cycle is incompletely understtod tehrefore not efficient advantage can be taken.

                 

                Radoslav Bozov

                University of Virginia

                International Society of Computational Biology

                  • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                    Paul Comet

                    Dear Radoslav,

                    1) Right now a lot of people in Scotland, Iceland & Denmark are actually using electrolytically derived H2!Perhaps you could share with the other readers as to why the addition of an electric current and a few drops of H2SO4 or NaCl (or other ioniser such as sewage), to water will not generate copious H2. Any form of turbine could be used - solar/ steam turbine, wind turbine alone, tidal, wave all seem to work just fine. Shell has a large H2 project, including gas filling stations. However I see use of H2 more of an energy storage strategy, direct electricity would be better over short distances. Can you give us an idea of the H2 producing efficiency of the electrolysis of acid-doped water?.

                    2) There are a whole bunch of patents for genetically engineered cyanophyta to augment their oil (lipid) content to 60%! Algae are being made to directly produce octane! The ethanol route (anyway) suffers from the need to boil off the ethanol (from high specific heat water) using bagasse or other fuel source, and also involves devoting land that should be growing food to one of fuel production. This puts the price of food up and causes social unrest..

                    3)Are you conceding that the CO2 problem is now solved.? I am aware of the greenhouse problem concerning freon, SF6 & N2O & other industrial gases. Except for N2O these can be solved by legislation. The N2O problem is now beng partly solved by USDA by coating the urea in fertilizer in  a slow time release capsule. Methane is a "different kettle of fish" & may entail cessation of the use of the paddy field & also going vegetarian. Lots of tofu to look forward to!

                    4)Enlighten us!

                    5)The carbon cycle, for all it's labyrinthine complexities, can be oversimplified into a "two carbon molecules" in a box model". One carbon particle is attached to the floor of the box (fossil fuels & limestone). The other particle oscillates between biosphere, detritus & atmosphere. 3/4 of time it is in the biosphere & "detrivosphere"(box floor), maybe 1/4 of time (or less) it is in the atmosphere as CO2. If the fossilised carbon "molecule" is also released during combustion or calcining., the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere of the box can increase by 100%. Carbonising the detritus would remove all carbon from the air.   

                  • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                    Radoslav Bozov

                    Sure, I would look at it and give you a feedback.

                  • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                    Thomas Burns

                         I see that there's another discussion thread focusing on the technical aspects of "sustainable solutions," but with this I'd like to take a step back and suggest that one of the themes you might emphasize in your talk is the increasing need for citizens to have knowledge of sustainability (principles and issues) in order to make informed decisions.

                         True, we do need some significant technical solutions in order to continue to enjoy the comforts of our lifestyle in a "post-carbon" setting, but perhaps more immediately there needs to be a better understanding on the part of individuals about their own environmental impact and the consequences of their daily decisions in this regard.  Hopefully, then, you could include some suggestions as to the extent that our educational curricula should reflect sustainability themes at the primary, secondary and collegiate levels.  Of course, part of this would include an understanding of the scientific basis (cross-disciplinary), but equally important is the ethical aspect.  There could be a comprehensive curriculum incorporating a series of goals associated with different grades or educational levels.  E.g., at the primary level, establish an appreciation of the issues and the fact that humans have a unique environmental impact; at secondary, that individual actions and preferences can affect both current and esp. future conditions; and at college/university level that citizens with this level of education have a greater responsibility to contribute so as to ensure a sustainable future for society.

                         Another thing to consider is teaching is recognizing that the scientific "answers" will never be complete or free of controversy, but that nevertheless these are our best source of information for decision-making.  There's a parallel here in Health and Biology education - that coming out of high school and esp. college, students (incl. non-science-majors) should have had adequate instruction to as to be able to actively contribute to important healthcare decisions for themselves and their family memebrs, and further, that their knowledge guides them to lead a "sustainably healthy" lifestyle.

                         Hopefully, Andrew, this is what you were getting at with your request.  It's liklely that other readers can do a better job of suggesting and articulating these and other themes related to Sustainability & Curriculum...

                    • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                      Andy Jorgensen

                      Thanks to those who posted and/or sent me a direct reply.


                      But let me restate the question - how do we get the topic into the already crowded curriculum?


                      Where does it fit in general chemistry?  Under thermodynamics perhaps - so how?  In organic chemistry (green chemistry of course)?  In liberal arts chemistry (I will be talking about the Chemistry and Context book which does this).  Faculty need concrete ideas more integrated then to add a week.

                       

                      What creative ideas do you have to place sustainablity into the classroom and lab?

                       

                      Thanks,

                       

                      Andy

                       

                        • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                          Paul Comet

                          Andrew,

                           a few ideas:

                          1) analyses of sewage sludge., each student takes an element: Bi, Fe, Zn, Ni, Co, Cu & uses an old fashioned gravimetric approach. PO4---, to quantitate each element. You might get lucky & find Pb+, Hg & Ag+ in a preliminary chloride precipitation. Use ICP - MS to look for other trace elements.Se, Te,V etc.

                          2) Conversion of bones to superphosphate (add H2SO4) watch the pH change

                          3) Analyses of dead cell phone aqua regia acid  leachate:Au,Pb,Ag,Pd, etc. Do you get all the Pb & Ag out?

                          4) Add thermite pile to dead cellphone in sandbucket. What metals will you recover in steel bead? Perhaps the thermite reaction should be performed ouside classroom by instructor! Everyone needs to wear goggles & protection as dangerous reaction!

                          5) conversion of sewage sludge & newspaper to beer (using cellulase& amylase)! distillation not allowed!

                          6) steam reforming of newspaper to syngas.

                          7) syngas to diesel using fischer - tropsch reaction & Fe catalyst

                          8) On the internet - how to make a solar oven with a cardboard box lined with Al foil. Can boil water.

                          9) Use animal manure to generate methane to cook potato.

                          10) Analyses of local sewage sludge for PCBs & pesticides  using gc-ecd

                          11) Lots of abandoned mines near San Francisco, Analysis of mine effluent - bunch of acid & heavy metals. Probably a day long field trip.

                          Paul

                            • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                              Allen Doyle

                              Dear Andrew,

                                      Sustainability does not have to be a specific change in topics, but be a lens that we study chemical principles.  See the work of Geoffrey Chase about integrating Sustainability across the curriculum.

                               

                              For example, I stayed up late running error propagation for all my P Chem labs.  How about pick one lab or organic synthesis relevant to an industrial process and evaluate it using the 12 principles of green chemistry.

                               

                              As scientists, we trust the work of other scientists--physicists, geologists, cosmologists, molecular biologists, ecologists.  How do we practice conservation of resources in our workplace, (e.g. research labs)?  Labs are 5 times or more resource intensive than offices, so a small relative change there can make a relatively large absolute impact on a campus.  For some best practices see http://sustainability.ucsb.edu/lars

                               

                              What communication skills do chemists need to understand conservation opportunities beyond reagents, and technology, e.g. behavior, policy, and industrial practices?

                               

                              Would PhD requirements for one class in toxicology avoid industrial commitments to overly toxic products and reagents, as John Warner suggests

                                • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                  Radoslav Bozov

                                  Dear  Andrew,

                                   

                                  1. To enforce sustainabililty in curriculum, students must be introduced to basic biochemical and biophysical concepts. Yes, in general chemistry can fall under thermodynamics, but the ultimate link between energy and mass, thus defining entropy will be studied through defining negentropy or increase of order, potential energy, as biologicaly propgated systems. Thus general chemistry standart labs can be simulated on computer screens avoiding teh generation of hazardous by-products and stimulating teh industry itself because chemists are trained to be creative, and we can do anything we want. Therefore eradicating the source for hazardous methododlogy is essential. In practice, it will be valuable to determine teh redox states of various biological compounds including proteins to determine "green" mechanisms. Modern aldol reactions will be emphasized in combination with SN1,2 and elimination reactions to foster understanding of mechanical discontinuity. This will make labs a lot more interesting for students if for exampe pH change is seen as a consequence of "small" machines, proteins, that work as catalysts in multiple stages. The assessment of various transition metals in complexes with proteins is critical for reevaluation of chemical principles. As a consequence some students will like it more, others not. We need to expand in space and start working with biological macromolecules. The traditional division on general and organic chemistry must be reevaluated and possibly integrated. Working with strong acids, bases and highly reactive compound should be under toxicology section thus raising awarness in young chemists. The goal of general chemistry is to introduce students in atomic theory and establish sense for mass dynamics in closed systems thus transitioning to MO theory and quantum theory. In other words creating sustanable systems that can be seen as intelligent systems, where NOT calculation of molarity will be primarily important, but understanding of chemical principles in constantly expanding space, compartamentalization of systems, thus creating open systems that can mimic nature. This will foster a new genration of chemists that can create technology meeting our global and local demands for bioindustrial age.

                                   

                                  2. Principles in organic chemistry will be bended throuigh biocatalysts, again, avoiding hazardous waste products.Moreover, we will be able to engineer systems that may convert organic molecules into energy source substrates, further used as renewable source for macromolecule synthesis or energy supply. Again, hazardous organic products will be excluded from the inventory of academic institutions. There is no point of working with these as a form of education of we can shift to more desirable form for sciecne advancement. Information technology and media is powerful enough to substitute these labs virtually. Instead focusing on predicitve simulations with components such as synthesis/degradation dynamics in isolated bio systems will be a lot more valuable for development of novel biotechnology. We can use DNA sequence technology to identify peptides with catalitic properties for given biological processes.

                                   

                                  3. Chemists new era of recreating biosystems is desirable, rather than analyzing structural components. Function precedes strucutre. Structural reality is acheived after functional determination has been established.

                            • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                              Andy Jorgensen

                              Thanks to those who provided comments.

                               

                              I did include excerpts from Paul Comet, Thomas Burns and Allen Doyle (some were posted too late to use) - and to Green Chemistry Director Bob Peoples who sent some ideas to me directly.

                               

                              Those how presented in the symposium on sustainablity have been invited to provide a chapter in the planned symposium series volume on the session.  I would like to include the quotes of you gentlemen so please confirm that this is acceptable.  I can share with you the exact excerpt that I used if you like - but I may very well include more in the chapter - so let me know if you have an limitations on the quotes.

                               

                              Andy

                                • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                  Paul Comet

                                  Hallo Andrew & all & sorry I missed you at ACS, I got confused with the myriads of talks being given!

                                  Please feel free to make use of my material. Essentially I agree with a lot, but by no means all, that Radoslav says. Yes mother nature does most of her most important reactions "in the cold" using enzymes with (mostly)  transition elements from the first transition series. Photosynthesis & Nitrogen fixation provide our food. Respiration is how heterotrophs eat. (& this does generate heat). I missed a whole bunch of stuff at ACS but it appears to me that there is a general shift away from petroleum & fossil fuels & that biochemistry & genetic manipulation of bacteria are how we are going to make a lot of the substances we now derive from petroleum. Splicing the rubber-making gene from the rubber tree into bacteria so we can make rubber without cutting down the rainforest in Burma or deriving similar polymers from petroleum would be an example. Substituting organic chemicals for "strategic elements" such as  rarer transition elements & metalloids would be another. We are running out of many of them!  (e.g. organic conductors & semiconductors).   Ultimately mankind should have a range of biogical, chemical & biochemical tools at his disposal so that a single person could live indefinitely in some kind of glass bubble (with internet!) on the Moon or Mars just using their own waste, additional water & a few packets of seeds/spores. However I do not believe we should avoid hazardous substances. Mother nature uses chemical warfare on a daily basis. Toxicology is a major part of the understanding of how pharmaceuticals work. Pharmaceuticals in the wastewater stream are another cause for concern. However it is dealing with the waste stream & finding ways of using it so that the endless importing of new raw & unnecessary manufactured materials can be avoided, along with  the CO2 emissions produced in their remanufacture, that I believe should take top priority. Rainforest economics!

                                    • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                      Paul Comet

                                      To summarise: Sustainability can possibly be achieved by 1) Using the waste stream as our primary source of raw materials. 2) Replacing, as far as possible, rare elements by organic, boron or silicon based substitutes. 3) Stealing as many ideas & techniques from mother nature in our formulation of new subtances such as plastics & pharmaceuticals ("cold" biochemistry as a substitute for "hot pot" reactions). 4) Phasing out coal, natural gas & petroleum. 5) Eventually using electricity/hydrogen as our primary energy source.

                                        • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                          Radoslav Bozov

                                          Dear Paul,  You obviously do not understand what is happening with molecules and how that affects global health and issues.   1.     With current widespread curriculum I deeply doubt that novel engineers using biotechnology will emerge to convert waste to raw material. Pollution of non degradable matter is a threat to humanity. 2.     Boron and Silicon are not bio-organic elements. Understanding carbon signaling redox systems is needed.  3.     We can’t steal, we can mimic with good knowledge as mentioned previously. 4.     Drilling should be diminished, while natural gas synthesis by quantum capture and carbon dioxide reduction, thus closing the cycle is desired. Petroleum must be banned to cease waste production and air pollution.  5.     Electricity is produced by rechargeable batteries using the above method as primary source for energy capturing.      

                                            • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                              Paul Comet

                                              Dear Radoslav,

                                              1) I believe the general idea is about changing the curriculum as well as the way we do things!

                                              2) Mother nature, the final arbiter of sustainability, finally recycles every thing (even rocks)! We have to follow her ways (or we trash & further pollute our warming planet).

                                              3) Boron & Silicon may be needed to produce unusual properties in organic carbon polymers (such as conductivity & magnetisability) they are also abundant. A couple of transition elements in a complex enzyme can achieve much more than we can in our hot cooking pots.Think N fixation at room temperature by legumes as opposed to the Haber process.

                                              4) "Understanding carbon signaling redox systems" may be important - can you explain?

                                              5) "We can’t steal, we can mimic with good knowledge as mentioned previously". - We CAN steal genes from one organism & transplant them into another.

                                              6) "While natural gas synthesis by quantum capture and carbon dioxide reduction, thus closing the cycle is desired" - can you explain? It sounds as if you have managed to get an organism to convert CO2 to methane by using light energy. Mother nature also does this (two steps) by phosynthesis followed by fermentation,

                                              7) I apologise for my lack of understanding of  your obviously outstanding work

                                                • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                  Radoslav Bozov

                                                  Dear Paul,

                                                   

                                                  1) Agree, but the main idea is to change the way we think about element interactions.

                                                   

                                                  2) Agree, but details must be known. General picture is of no significant value, meaning that understanding meachsnisms are fundamental.

                                                   

                                                  3) Disagree. Boron is POISON, and thanks to your environmental advising and others like you, teh humanity suffers from hihg concentration in the biosphere whihc will have long term effect. I have never seen any co-enzyme or piece of protein in humans to contain Boron. Silicon also has toxic radiation and negative effect on physiological aging, we do not need pathological aging. Si as second element of group four and it has a lot weaker electrophilic properties as compared to carbon thus unabling to form resonance systems and mimic bio-organic electromagnetic forces. Carbon is teh only biocompatable element only coupled with strict interference with other elements presented in life. see Carbon Interference Functional Table attached. The CIFT is prohibited for desemination and copying.

                                                   

                                                  4) Transitional elements have their specific role in electron negativity fluxes and knowing these properties is important in design of biomatter.

                                                   

                                                  5) You obviously do not understand the problem of genes because you don't understand teh problem of proteins. Th ebiological functional unit is a cell and genes do not wokr independently rather understanding gene-gene interactions on proteomic level is important. You can insert a piece of DNA in a bacterome and then WHAT if yo don't know how that piece of protein interferes with the redox state of a cell. Control is needed.

                                                   

                                                  6) Do you claim that you understand the process of methanogenesis? Fermentation is a clasic term describing hypoxic oxidation, carbon oxidation from +2 to +1 in case of lactic fermentation and +2 to 0 in case of alocholol fermentation. Do not confuse oxidation with elements participating, but rather electron loss and/or quantum travel. In reality some bacteria are known to produce methane others can use it to form oxygen as recently discovered. However, the mechanism on functional moleculr level is not understood upto know. In the future, my theory will help depicit it.

                                                   

                                                  7) Yes, mother nature uses discontineous energy conversion. I have the theoretical background to engineer such organisms, but do you think humans will place effort for such project if gas is found for FREE by drilling it. Do we care for mother nature, or we just want to abuse it! The energy redistribution within earth will continue to cause tectonic clashes as entropy shifts cause antiforce.

                                                    • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                      Paul Comet

                                                      OK Radoslav,

                                                      Point 3) Boron is poison! You don't have to drink your eyedrops & you shouldn't swallow your teeth whitener. Enamelled cookware also contains boron.So does a number of gemstones. Similarly, I am also not suggesting silicone breast implants! My line of reasoning is to use common non metallic compounds as cheap substitutes for rare metals & metalloids. Do you chew your electrical wiring? - I don't!.

                                                      Point 4) Transition elements are often at the core of many enzymes . Your point is what ?

                                                      Point 5) Biochemical technobabble?

                                                      Point 6) In my textbook carbon almost always shares its 4 electrons, though these can move (except in carbides). Oxidation state of many elements / compounds is mainly a formality.Carbon retains a valency of 4 in all the compounds you mention.

                                                      Point 7) 2012 is just round the corner. California is going down!

                                                        • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                          Radoslav Bozov

                                                          Paul,

                                                           

                                                          3) Indeed it is a posison. Both products you mentioned have nothing to do with sustainability and innovative technology. Boron is deposited in bones if administered in high doses. It is known that boron concentrations are highly elevated in industrial cities causing various chronic disorders. We should consume boron as less as possible. Boron behaives more like a metal than non metal. We do not need it. Nature has found a way to deposit bad things in hard tissues that are death to avoid implications.

                                                           

                                                          4) It is important to know whihc transitional elements are involved in what complexes responsible for normal metabolism and negativity distribution.

                                                           

                                                          5) Proteins can do a lot more than you can comprehend.

                                                           

                                                          6) Electrons travel in space and between elements. VBT is a good start but does not describe why carbon oxidation changes. What about transient carbanion. Aldol reactions are proven to work in biological systems. What about carbocations? Oxidation sates explain teh formation of such transient carbon states. It may be formality for you, but it actually provides information for electron quantum states, and possibility to predict mass change in space acounting for energy delocalization and travel within and between functional groups. Oxidation states allow calculation by using mass and  energy conservation law. Moreover they explain entropy and negentropy directions in time and space.

                                                           

                                                          7) California has seen lots of fire these days, its time for earthquakes.

                                                           

                                                          Small advice. Don't be a great optimist, and give a chance to our children to live in a better world by learning new technologies and methods nature has already selected as good.

                                                            • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum--staying focused and civil
                                                              Allen Doyle

                                                              Gentlemen,

                                                                   I thank you for your impassioned ideas, and I hold some of them as well, yet I am concerned this dialog is a stalemate, and frankly, unprofessional. I request you step back from the current line of back and forth debate on seven topics, to a strategic and collaborative discussion on advancing sustainability into chemistry curricula one topic at a time. I see a lot of personal and sometimes detailed opinions, some name calling, and occasional sweeping generalizations that are not very helpful for a professor developing a curriculum. Where you don't agree, how could that be built into a teachable moment?

                                                                   I am on the verge of signing out because the occasional helpful tidbit (replacing transition elelments with B and Si--a fascinating idea geochemically) is accompanied by zealous grandstanding. I suspect other colleagues may be as well. Please do take a strong stand, one at a time, then develop it into something useful for a teacher.  What are the pros and cons of your topic?

                                                                   I request each submitter run a spell check on their work and perhaps bounce their idea off a colleague before sending to a national list serve.

                                                                   Another tool: please update your subject lines appropriately. Each of the seven topics could be a single thread appropriately labeled.

                                                                   Curriculum development, like science, is about the learning process and principles, not always THE right answer.  The green chemistry principles are a lens of elegant concepts which must be balanced against each other within the limits of our planet.  Perhaps you can weigh each proposal with how it fares with the twelve principles (plus or minus).    Another very simple set of four sustainability principles is the Natural Step: 1) don't build up toxins, 2) don't deplete limited elements 3) preserve habitat 4) provide quality of life for as many people as possible.  

                                                                   I encourage you to carry on a bilateral correspondence on some of the hotter topics, and come back to the group after you have worked out some of the toxicity versus geologic abundance issues.  Pick a thread of discussion and develop it additively with citations for a professor to weave into an existing gen chem class, or a green chemistry class.

                                                                 Sincerely,

                                                                        Allen Doyle

                                                                        Sustainability Manager, UC Davis

                                                                        Chemistry BA, Chemical Oceanography MS

                                                                        Group facilitator on occasion as well.

                                                                • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum--staying focused and civil
                                                                  Laura Pence

                                                                  I would like to echo Allen's elegant and eloquent request for civil discourse.  Coming off the recent thematic programming at the San Francisco meeting, I am convinced that sustainability must be addressed from a multitude of perspectives and there is no one true way to accomplish our very necessary goals.

                                                                   

                                                                  As a chemistry faculty member who teaches undergraduates, I am looking for productive ideas that I can potentially implement in my courses or concepts whose development I should be aware of.  When discussion devolves into personal slurs and insistance that one perspective holds all the answers and the other perspective none, you immediately alienate the audience who you were trying to reach.  (We get enough of that unprofessional and unscientific attitude about global warming already.)  Thus I urge all contributors to this list to consider Allen's suggestions regarding productive and respectful discussion of issues.

                                                                   

                                                                  My thanks also to Allen for his leadership and group facilitation.

                                                                   

                                                                  Respectfully,

                                                                  Laura Pence

                                                                  Theme Program Chair

                                                                  "Chemistry for a Sustainable World"

                                                                  San Francisco ACS Meeting 2010

                                                                   

                                                                  Department of Chemistry

                                                                  University of Hartford

                                                                    • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum--staying focused and civil
                                                                      Paul Comet

                                                                      Dear Laura & Allen,

                                                                      I agree with your analyses. However I am very curious about Mr Bozov's " God " table/diagram. What an earth is it all about? Are these photolytically activated ions?  What is "Negentropy"?. What do they have to do with sustainability?. But someone else should deal with him. Further there is a great need for other ACS members to join the debate. For instance, we have not covered the "Gaia" hypothesis, nor the C,N,O,P,S, hydrological and other elemental cycles. For instance P is running out (yet we throw all our bones away). The crustal & marine abundances of other elements such as F,Cl, Br,I & a bunch of metals need to be discussed. Also "material entropy" - we mine out ores (substances concentrated by nature to be economically viable to extract) use the metals etc. in manufacturing, & then the resultant obsolete/damaged products are dumped in a landfill where the concentration of the rarer elements involved is too low to be worth "mining" (though Japan IS doing this for electronic goods). Why is the sea "salty" as opposed to "bitter"? Crustal rocks leach out alkalis not halides. My major interest is now "waste" decomposition chemistry & there is a lot more to sustainability than just waste disposal - though this is a very basic & neglected field in chemistry. Oceanography, Geology, Environmental Science, Law, Economics, Politics, Agriculture, & especially Hydrology - even Philosophy & Sociology (we are moving towards a post modern society) - all tie in with the concept of sustainability.This is too much for me to figure out all on my own!

                                                                      Paul

                                                                        • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum--staying focused and civil
                                                                          Radoslav Bozov

                                                                          Dear Colleagues,

                                                                           

                                                                          Without understanding the existence of biological systems and their interference with non-living systems, sustainability enforcement do not make sense. Therefore, environmental consulting is not "just" about studying cycles independent of biological systems. The table I have posted is nothing but guide for understanding negativity fluxes I have analyzed for easier comprehension of biological complexity. Negentropy is the opposite of entropy, it is the evolutionary force creating life, increasing order within given space by using carbon coupled oxidation systems to store energy in carbon containing molecules. I will not get into details as you must discover them on your own.   " nor the S,N O, P, C." If you didn't understand how the mentioned elements change in biological systems, they will not make sense in non-living systems. Sustainability is about learning from nature and applying that knowledge to prevent negative outcomes in future. For example biodegradable polymers, learn how living systems operate to build up matter.  The volcano erupted recently in Iceland must warn you for future outcomes. Nature is more powerful than any of you can imagine. Study Nature well in determined manner. All the disciplines Allen mentions will make a lot more sense when Theory of Carbon Signaling is comprehended in its true value. To finish up, knowing facts don't matter a lot, knowing mechanism for carbon oxidation state dynamics does matter.

                                                                           

                                                                           

                                                                          Sincerely,

                                                                           

                                                                          Radoslav Bozov

                                                                            • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum--staying focused and civil
                                                                              Paul Comet

                                                                              Do you have any reference material published or work similar to your own that will allow ACS to evaluate your contribution? I am not sufficiently qualified in your field (molecular biology? genetic engineering? enzymology?) to do this. Independent material, preferably accessible by internet, on "carbon signaling" "negentropy" "oxidation of carbon from +2 to +1" & some kind of "ball of string" or "compass" that will help us to navigate the negentropy - entropy diagram, would be much appreciated! It is possible your work has some merit but is not being evaluated by the right audience.

                                                                                • Negentropy diagram
                                                                                  Allen Doyle

                                                                                  Dear Paul and Boris,

                                                                                          Thank you for starting off on a single topic.  Please note I changed the subject line as I suggest participants do for ease of thread review.

                                                                                         

                                                                                  Boris,

                                                                                         I too would like some specific references to put your ideas into context and something I can evaluate.  I request you talk with a colleague in person about how how to make your ideas accessible where colleagues on-line can contribute.  All of us understand the sun and energy inputs reverse entropy. I don't find much new in what you describe outside of Cradle to Cradle, co-written by a chemist, or the principles of green chemistry.

                                                                                   

                                                                                        I am concerned very much that you link volcanic eruptions with biological systems and biopolymers, and that in closing you say, "knowing facts don't matter a lot", then reiterate your opinion about "carbon oxidation state dynamics", or natural biomolecules, I assume that have been created by the sun.

                                                                                   

                                                                                       Sincerely,

                                                                                             Allen Doyle

                                                                              • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum--Elemental Limits
                                                                                Allen Doyle

                                                                                Dear Paul and ACS Colleagues,

                                                                                         Here is a single topic for Chemisty curriculum development:  Applying Sustem Condition #2 of the Natural Step:  Don't waste elements that are depleted in the Earth's crust.

                                                                                Go through the periodic table and look at the percent of known ores or deposits of elements or substances and see what has been consumed and put in landfills.  This has already been done by Natural Step researchers and geochemists.

                                                                                 

                                                                                How does that impact manufacturing, materials recovery, design, consumer awareness?

                                                                                Fe, Al, Si--not to worry

                                                                                Cu, Li, and others, a big concern.

                                                                                 

                                                                                What point in a traditional chemistry curriculum would this be appropriate?  Gen Chem, then revisited in a senior seminar?

                                                                                • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum--Phosphorus abundance
                                                                                  Allen Doyle

                                                                                  Another thread starting here on this important topic.  Paul raises very important issues on this element, which has very low abundance and much of it has been consumed.

                                                                                  What are the curriculum resources, objectives and perspectives on this element,

                                                                                  Reserves

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Uses

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Waste

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Timeline until depletion

                                                                                   

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Alternative elements:

                                                                      • Boron uses and concerns:  Curriculum
                                                                        Allen Doyle

                                                                        Starting a thread on Boron inclusion in the curriculum.  Please stay focused on ideas that put this element in perspective with historical uses and untapped alternatives.

                                                                         

                                                                         

                                                                         

                                                                        What are the curriculum resources, objectives and perspectives on this element,

                                                                        Reserves

                                                                         

                                                                        Uses

                                                                         

                                                                        Waste

                                                                         

                                                                        Timeline until depletion

                                                                         

                                                                         

                                                                        Alternative elements:

                                                                          • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                            Allen Doyle

                                                                            Starting a thread on Boron as a energy cycling element.  Please stay focused on ideas that put this element in perspective with historical uses and untapped alternatives.  If you change topics, please change the subject line.

                                                                             

                                                                            I went to a book signing event about a year ago where a self-taught energy researcher promoted Boron oxidation as a continually renewable chemical energy storage cycle for an external combustion engine (a.k.a. a Boron Steamer). The book is "Prescription for the Planet: the painless remedy for out eenrgy and environmental crisis" by Tom Blees.  Has anyone followed up on this?

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                              • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                Paul Comet

                                                                                Re Boron & Curriculum:

                                                                                Allen - How about a periodic table in which the total available weight is placed next to each stable element ie. the "Clarke" or total  crustal abundance  & oceans/ atmosphere. This could  be accompanied by information on the  rate of consumption & accompanying pollution.as the element is consumed & dispersed into the waste stream (Cell Phones!).Further information as to where each element is to be found naturally. eg Lithium - dried up playa lakes ditto boron. Gold/platinum metals could also be accompanied by extractive methodologies of their ores. The approach could be duplicated for the moon & Mars (accompanied by information on "incompatible elements").

                                                                                  • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                    Paul Comet

                                                                                    Some models of sustainability.   In Aug 13, 2007 I published a letter “A plan for sustainability” in C&EN news advocating waste disposal as a method of preventing global warming (the decomposing waste could be used as a carbon - neutral energy source). Accompanying my letter was a letter by Wilson M. Gulick, suggesting that a moonbase be used to study sustainability. In such a “closed system” non renewable resources would be rapidly depleted. This article got me thinking because earth based laboratories of sustainability had already been set up, most notably the biosphere in Arizona. More usefully, it was possible to buy your own biosphere for about $65. At that price one obtains a 2 inch glass seawater filled egg containing 4 visible layers, a small bubble of air, seawater with tiny shrimps swimming in it, a layer of green algae slime encrusting the sides and a brown basal layer of organic matter. The egg is nearly indefinitely sustainable, placed by a window the shrimps eat the green algae, reproduce and die. The brown layer of bacteria etc decompose the waste and dead shrimps, returning the nutrients ready for photosynthetic growth. After about 7 – 10 years the shrimps and green algae die and are replaced by a monotonous mat of blue green algae. It appears that the system is insufficiently diverse. How could understanding these systems be applied to a sustainable lunar colony? They are invaluable as they demonstrate that the brown basal layer of bacteria acts as the medium by which autotrophs (respirers) obtain their food. The brown layer is not terribly well understood. It contains fermenters, oxidizers and reducing bacteria as well as probably a host of fungi and protists. The brown layer of decomposing waste & their “deconstructors” is, I believe key to the future of a lunar base and perhaps the future of our planet. However chemists are far more concerned with synthesis and biosynthesis than with decomposition. Maybe decomposition and its accompanying energy flow should be given greater inquiry.   So what could sustainability mean on a moonbase for a single person? I see a pressurized glass house, with a retractable cover, a tank with a few gallons of freshwater, some food stores, a packet of kudzu seeds , (an edible legume and is also a fast growing noxious weed) seeds of cereals and edible tubers etc. Also a chamber pot with a lid and a means of collecting the methane from human waste and a simple bunsen burner type of stove for cooking purposes with a store of liquid air for emergencies. The kudzu and other plants would generate oxygen from wastewater and carbon dioxide. The oxygen and cooked kudzu leaves and tubers would provide food and air for respiration. Condensation on the panes of the “greenhouse” could provide clean water. Problems with this system would need to include systems for reclaiming salt, though salt bushes are capable of this,  and trace elements such as iodine. ; and a way of minimizing nitrous oxide emissions from the kudzu symbiotic azobacteria perhaps by having a microbial flora adjusted specifically for converting N2O to N2 or NH3, or maybe certain kinds of fungi. Corn is extremely capable of absorbing combined nitrogen. Potatoes are good at sequestering iodine and probably would make a welcome dietary change from the kudzu! “Incompatible elements” (not readily absorbed by common igneous minerals, during cooling of magma) are, however, available locally, on the moon. (phosphorus is an example) so important trace elements such as iodine may also be available.   Autarky (self sufficiency) can be exemplified in two very different natural systems; the first of these is the rainforest. Here, occasionally even in relatively nutrient poor areas, the generation of unused waste, dead leaves, dead animals are rapidly decomposed, energy and nutrients being the main reward to the “deconstructionists” (bugs and moulds). Very quickly all the nutrients are returned to the trees. The decomposers are the key to the long term sustainability of the rainforest. In the authors experience, on the ground, there is little to see except a fine brown soil and cathedral like towering tree trunks in the gloom. However, the sunlit canopy is full of flowers, fruits and animals. The  “wealth” of the canopy lies in its diversity, (including the generation of rainclouds above & within  the canopy that keep all the rainforest microenvironments moist). However, it is the little studied decomposers that keep the whole system viable. By comparison, waste management  in wealthier human societies largely consists of throwing refuse in a hole in the ground. The lack of the "deconstructors" ecological niche could be undertaken by the local municipality & provide much needed employment. Metals, paper, plastics, yard waste & agricultural waste can all produce useful industrial raw materials or energy. Even straw or cornstover could easily replace trees as a high quality paper source. Old trees, as a cellulose source, are apparently as carbon positive as coal. The other biological model of sustainability involves almost no waste at all as it involves symbiosis. A  good  example is a major Protist group: the Foraminifera. Though only “amoebae”, forams have exquisite tests (shells) which eventually cover the ocean floor. Both plankton  and benthonic forams are common and abundant. Many foraminifera , though “animals” contain symbiotic algae. The algae flourish in the protoplasm and use the forams nitrogenous waste and carbon dioxide as plant food. In return the “animal” obtains carbohydrates and proteins. The system is entirely sustainable and the concept of “waste” has little meaning here. The end products  of metabolism of one organism acts as food for the other organism. In fact some forams will digest the algae but retain the chloroplasts (kleptotrophy). I apply these two models, the rainforest and the symbiosis models to try & understand  sustainability.   How then is waste from human society to be processed? A model can be found in food - derived bones, they simply go into landfills along with calcium phosphate sludge from phosphate recovery at the wastewater works. All of this ends up in the landfills. Some bones from slaughter house waste are converted into bone meal, but the vast majority of phosphate is landfilled. An exception to the general wastage of phosphate is basic slag from steel smelting. The slag is often made into high strength concrete, (when mixed with portland cement). It is also used as fertilizer. However, even in poorer societies bones are not much used (except perhaps for carving). The problem is that managed competition keeps the price of superphosphate fertilizer very cheap. The North African phosphate deposits are almost depleted and  other deposits (such as deep sea nodules) are limited in abundance and expensive to exploit. In industry & the home, bones are rarely collected and converted back into superphosphate by acid addition (H2SO4). This “problem of bones” highlights a problem in economics. “Laissez faire” basically commands the purchase of the cheapest resource, in order to remain competitive,. The labor costs of bone retrieval and conversion back into fertilizer, presently make bone recycling for fertilizer uneconomic. Essentially “laissez faire” firmly dictates that we “trash the planet”. Not until all the phosphate reserves are exhausted can one start searching for phosphate in landfills. This dilemma was unimportant, until recently, when it has become apparent that phosphate reserves are almost mined out, and that discarding phosphate waste is now an unsustainable option.   Rather than upset the whole fabric of modern capitalism it may be possible to solve the “recycling being more expensive than using virgin materials” problem by using the municipal tipping fee for recycling rather than landfilling. By encouraging North European style curbside recycling, pay-as-you-throw schemes or materials recovery facility, etc, the waste problem could disappear. If the recycled raw materials are used on site as the basis of industrial manufacturing, energy etc perhaps by applying a system of  franchises, than employment could rise. It would be essential to keep the prices lower than “dumped” and artificially cheap imports that are bleeding the west dry (perhaps by using the  recycling & tipping subsidy). Perhaps by using a sustainability approach and  judicious use of fossil carbon taxes on imports it may be possible to revive manufacturing around a cities recycling center. Some authorities (P2P) suggest using an alternative - energy Joule based currency,  but probably this should be employed only in the case of complete sovereign debt collapse. Autarky, holism and planned economies have ugly associations with totalitarianism. However, both single cells & multicellular organisms are regulated entities. If it is accepted that our planet is an increasingly hungry, thirsty and overcrowded space ship, then some kind of generally agreed regulation becomes inevitable. Possibly each carbon neutral domain, or “symbiotic cell” (consisting of an autotrophic rural area balancing out CO2 emissions from the adjacent heterotrophic city) could be given the status of an ancient Greek city state. Nevertheless it appears that the whole planet is now on a war footing, not among ourselves (yet) but with melting polar ice. By employing a sustainability model based on the deconstruction and reuse of waste,  using alternative energy, it may be possible to avoid the boom/bust business cycle of competition for control of natural resources and markets that usually and finally culminates in open conflict (petroleum being a particular case in point). I would like to suggest that each US State be divided into carbon neutral regions; cities or urban (heterotrophic) areas, where consumption of alternative energy, as well as production of goods and services energy is high, are balanced by adjacent autotrophic regions (rural areas) which produce much of the energy used by the city. If the energy from the sun is transformed into hydrogen, electricity, biofuels and net carbon dioxide fixation in autotrophic zones is linked to consumption of energy in the heterotrophic zones, then considerable progress towards both carbon neutrality, and autarky will have been accomplished without compromising democracy.   Lehman et el (2007) in their seminal study on “terra preta del Indio” (biochar) notes that if the complete planets organic waste converted into “flash” pyrolytic oil, (all the waste organics are converted into oil) this would provide enough energy to replace fossil fuels. Fossil fuels  yield about 2ppm of carbon dioxide added “permanently” to the atmosphere each year. If, instead, the agricultural waste is slowly pyrolysed at 600°C, one half of the carbon can be  preserved as near indestructible biochar , the other half is distributed between oil and syngas. Thus, in theory one ppm of carbon dioxide can be removed every year from the atmosphere, as long as the pyrolysate is used instead of fossil fuels, and hydrogen and/or algal derived fuels make up the shortfall. (all of this assumes that energy demand remains stable). Thus it would take about a century, after a seven year "lead - in" period during which fossil fuels are replaced (assuming absolute universal compliance) to return atmosphere carbon dioxide concentrations to pre - industrial  levels. This is too slow, as the polar ice is melting far too rapidly. However if  the  biomass is heated rapidly, all the carbon can be volatilised into "flash pyrolysate" which could be injected back into abandoned oil reservoirs, only 50 years would be needed to remove all the post industrial CO2 into the atmosphere. However this would be economically prohibitive.  It will still be necessary to bring much marginal and arid land under cultivation (quickly) to produce enough biochar or pyrolysate to remove enough carbon dioxide rapidly, should the polar “tipping point” be approached.   By combining the various models together it may be possible to constrict a roadmap towards sustainability and maybe a reversal of global warming as well. Hence the rainforest biosphere, and protist symbiotic association provide sustainability models that may be  combined holistically. Each carbon neutral domain or autonomous zone, consisting of an autotrophic centre (city or nucleus) containing organelles where manufacturing and recycling is dominant, and is sustained by solar energy from the autotrophic “symbionts” that comprise adjacent rural areas. When enough hydrogen and algal derived fuels are  available, then only a maximum of one half the carbon of agricultural waste could be fixed as char. Each city could have a manufacturing speciality, be it clothes, textiles, machinery, glass making etc. Unwanted, but sorted, waste materials, as they accumulate, are farmed out to cities that could make use of that specific material. Waste derived raw materials should be used FIRST for industry, before cheap imports from far away places are bought, both to save energy and jobs. Some kind of industrial information processing unit, would be necessary to make sure supply & demand of specific recycled waste types are implemented. However, it is the “kudzu" lunar module model that may have the greatest potential. 100 years from now the moon could be covered by a greenhouse, as could Mars! Applying this terraforming idea to the Sahara, Sahel, Gobi etc. and other dry wastelands could be “greened”& freed from famine. These extreme solutions might be necessary to stop the ongoing polar ice melting.   If the concern over climate change proves to be misplaced (though I note that for this August the volume of arctic ice is the lowest ever recorded, & appears to be dropping off the projected melting curve - see NSDIC), then a tropical rainforest model of sustainability becomes more appropriate. The rainforest, though sustainable, is not a totally closed system (migratory birds etc), though most of it's resources are indigenous. The forests  various feedback loops, as well as it's multiple trophic levels,  would seem to correspond better with the diversity of contemporary society & trade in rarer commodities could be maintained. Hence, using a rainforest model would avoid the problems of "command & control" economic & political systems associated with ships, aircraft  or political systems of limited political & economic freedom.    Foraminifera are common as sand grains on Indo Pacific beaches – hence to to misquote from William Blake, “to see the world in a grain of sand”, (and other unknown worlds also). The state as multicellular “super organism”(compare the Gaia model) need not be politically controlling if democratic principles are carefully retained within each “cathedral of sustainability carbon - neutral diocese”& elected officials and venture capital industrialists are given power to coordinate the movement of energy & resources. Environmentalism perhaps also can give  new perspectives on both capitalism and communism as neither adequately address the problem of limited resources. If the ice continues to melt as fast as it has been, then we are on a war footing with our much abused, angry  mother nature & this war may require emergency planning & coordination!    

                                                                                      • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                        Radoslav Bozov

                                                                                        Paul,

                                                                                         

                                                                                        I think you might watch too many cartoons and might get inspired by them. Sustainability requires understanding of carbon oxidation in given space which is a reflection of quantum theory looked through mass dynamics. 

                                                                                        "Environmentalism perhaps also can give  new perspectives on both  capitalism and communism as neither adequately address the problem of  limited resources" The problem has been addressed by many scientist who were ignored due to capitalistic interests. Communism has ignored the power of small molecules and pollutants as the main impacting environmental factor. There is limitless source of energy and biomass if adequately used. I told you once and I am telling you again, You don't know how to deal with modern problems because you don't understand mass and energy relationship through space and time.

                                                                                      • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                        Allen Doyle

                                                                                        Dear Paul,

                                                                                        I like your idea of creating a periodic table with crustal abundances, accessibility to mining, percent of known reserves used up, and other items.

                                                                                                        From a curriculum point of view it would be neat for ACS to host the table, and campuses could “adopt” an element, and track its use in products, mining, toxicity, green chemistry breakthroughs, percent depletion, subsidies, quality of life issues, etc.  Many campuses might adopt carbon, nitrogen and iron, while only a few would adopt Americium, for example.

                                                                                                        Take care,

                                                                                                                        Allen

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Sustainability Manager        453 Mrak Hall,   University of California, Davis              (530) 752-2075

                                                                                        http://sustainability.ucdavis.edu

                                                                                          • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                            Paul Comet

                                                                                            Dear Allen, Thanks for looking at my post! Actually technetium is important as a medicinal tracer & americium is important in smoke detectors (I think?). Probably the transuranium elements should be included.on the table. Radon/Astatine are  to be feared environmentally. Then there are the essential elements in weird enzymes.. Thanks again Paul

                                                                                            • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                              Radoslav Bozov

                                                                                              The table that has to be used was posted by me. Understanding of how electrons flaw is determined would enforce the rise of green chemistry and emergence of strong chemical biology substituting organic chemistry and natural resources as a fuel. It would rather give us an opportunity to use solar energy as a sole source in the future by using quantum world. THE "GREEN" ELEMENTS ARE WELL KNOWN. TEH GREEN MOLECULES ON THE OTHER HAND NOT SO WELL. If you don't want to see and experience California burning like Moscow or shaking like Guatemala and even worse, and the worse will come, YOU BETTER LISTEN TO ME.

                                                                                                • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                                  Mark Obrien

                                                                                                  The ACS Network was created to inspire debate and  facilitate discussion among chemists and chemical practitioners. This thread is  a real example of the power of the ACS Network to connect chemists and exchange  ideas in a public forum.   Thanks for your inspired feedback on this topic.   However, please remember that the ACS Network is your professional Society’s  electronic network.  Although you may disagree on the topics discussed, please  respect the opinions of others and keep your postings  professional.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  There are lots of new members on the Network and I’d  like to see if we can get their opinion on this topic.   Therefore, let’s get  back to the original question:

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Sustainability in the  Curriculum

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  How do we get the topic into the already crowded  curriculum?

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Where does it fit in general chemistry?  Under  thermodynamics perhaps - so how?  In organic chemistry (green chemistry of  course)?  In liberal arts chemistry (I will be talking about the Chemistry and  Context book which does this).  Faculty need concrete ideas more integrated then  to add a week.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  What creative ideas do you have to place sustainability  into the classroom and lab?

                                                                                                    • Re: Boron uses and concerns:  External Combustion Engine?
                                                                                                      Paul Comet

                                                                                                      Brian, 1) I am making no response to uncivil remarks, so it is unfair to reprimand me for making them, just to appear non partisan.. 2) I do believe that though thermodynamics is very important it will not cover everything.. Kinetics may be more important. The planets biosphere, according to thermodynamics, should consist of CO2, N2, & H2O maybe along with some H2S, NH3 & CH4 3) Sustainability in the lab. might involve the description of reactions of increasingly complex synthesis & decomposition that occur indefinitely when energy is input. Equilibrium constants come to mind. Modifying the Urey - Miller experiment might be fruitful, so that the products are allowed to accumulate into cooler vessels of different pH,. eH, different minerals & catalysts, but away from the arc,  might be instructive, particularly if the low molecular material is continually boiled off from these zones of different "facies".. This might simulate molecular evolution as a sustainable reaction. 4) I believe "sustainability" is an entirely new field, similar to the discovery of geology or ecology in the the 18th century. Potential fragments of this new topic are to be found throughout all the sciences as well as economics, politics & philosophy. Probably the most pertinent field is the undeveloped field of "garbology".

                                                                                  • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                    Paul Comet

                                                                                    Hallo Andrew,

                                                                                    Your profile has disappeared. Are you still part of ACS?

                                                                                    Paul

                                                                                      • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                        Andy Jorgensen

                                                                                        Must have been a glitch - it also told me that I didn't exist - then a minute later I was back.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Yes, still involved with ACS - I am the councilor for the Toledo local section.

                                                                                          • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                            Radoslav Bozov

                                                                                            Dear Andrew,

                                                                                             

                                                                                            It is your moral responsibility to select work based on firm grounds and chemical understanding of biological systems is not easy. I have attached a table constructed by me that must be included in curriculum as updated version of Regular periodic table to guide future chemical biologists. Yes carbon oxidation states in biological systems are understood thorugh Theory of Carbon Signaling.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            Sincerely,

                                                                                             

                                                                                            Radoslav S. Bozov

                                                                                              • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                                Paul Comet

                                                                                                Over the past year, I have managed to develop more "nuanced" thoughts on this challenge. Certain obvious problems remain with my earlier model, particularly the obvious "political incorrectness" concerning politics, philosophy &; economics associated with infinite recycling. This can now be (partly) corrected by considering:.  1) "control problems" associated with the building of a multicellular "superorganism". These could be dealt with along commercial lines by developing a market for "negative" (or sequestered) carbon..Negative carbon is traded as credit, positive (fossil fuel derived) as debit & alternative energy is sold at market rates  2) the development of municipal cooperatives which function similarly to tiny, economically autonomous, carbon - neutral republics.(or symbiotic cells). These would contain both rural &; urban components. Waste nutrients from the urban areas are transferred to rural zones. Straw, stover etc are converted into electrical energy. As more solar power/hydrogen/electricity becomes available, then the agricultural waste, in the form of charcoal remains on the farm, creating a carbon negative "principality. Inputting of physical "stuff" is kept to a minimum in each cell, perhaps by encouraging a more "minimalist" approach to living. Some kind of "osmotic" regulation of material input vs output would be needed to keep the cell stable. There really is no point importing fertilizer or fossil fuels when their components form key parts of the waste stream.  3) After peering into the abyss of totalitarianism, I believe 3 key components can be retrieved.& remain "ethically uncontaminated:" a) the economic tool of "self sufficiency" or autarky is acceptable on either a personal or a governmental basis (as production must balance consumption).  &; b) some economic planning will be necessary to move away from fossil fuel, climate change & a waste based -s ociety, & 3) holisim - seeing things as a whole. These 3 ideological  tools can, like nuclear power, be used for good or evil. The alternative might be economic (& perhaps ethical) collapse & poverty.The "controlling" attributes should  remain viable, but checked , within a democratic context.which emphasises individual freedom.   4) On the rainforest floor, all kinds of decomposers are active. By developing recycling of waste as a major economic substratum, the present problems associated with too many wasted humans (crime,war,drugs,- both recreational & prescribed) etc) could be alleviated. We need an Exxon of alternative, waste derived fuels &; an Anglo - American of scrap dealers etc.  5) One test of the viability of the proposed system would be how well the community functions as a giant recycling machine on the moon or Mars (running only on sunlight) . This would be the ultimate test of viability of the systems proposed here..  6) Lastly some additional, philosophical, appraisal & synthesis of  "-isms"  needs to be undertaken if a state-based multicellular, symbiotic  superorganism is to be constructed as an antidote to climate change. Firstly, I here draw on the original seed of an idea first proposed by Rogers the CEO of Duke Energy back in 2006. He proposed the idea of an updated medieval cathedral, that is a large secular, community based project, that  serves the entire community as a source of human (rather than spiritual) energy for centuries. This "cathedral  thinking" has formed, along with ideas of better methods of waste disposal, as the nucleus of all my thinking. However I believe that the "cathedral" should function as the mitochondrion or power station of the entire "medieval" community. Essentially the whole community of the town become involved & forms an autonomous cell with its own organelles. The cells could link together & sreate a neomedieval (secular) "superorganism", similar to the early church that kept the flickering light of western civilization alight during the "dark ages" caused by the economic collapse of the Western Empire in the 5th century (CE), but hopefully without inquisitorial fanaticism , intolerance & cruelty. In our own case the possibility of economic collapse as well as climate change problems may necessitate a similar kind of "plan B" that could keep our own civilization a going concern.  6) Some kind of secular "green philosophy" would also be required to encourage the development of a rational superorganism. The only two philosophies I know are both Chinese: a)  Confucianism  - the state as a benevolent cooperative superorganism (but would need to be drastically & democratically modified) & b) Taoism (the balance of nature - particularly useful for recycling & the idea of balancing  photosynthesis with respiration as a mode of CO2 control. However the divinatory aspects would have to be left out.   7) The western "idea of progress through competitive struggle" (war breeds technological innovation) would also need to be balanced by the Taoist ideal of living in harmony with nature.(& each other). The alternatives are becoming too grim to ignore. In summary, the creation of a "medieval underpinning" to complimentary urban & rural areas could provide additional (free) fuel, raw materials & employment in the service of creating a carbon negative planet.

                                                                                                  • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                                    Paul Comet

                                                                                                    I see on the ACS "engineering" thread that Robert Rich has proposed the novel idea of "carbon management" this excellent idea can be combined with Allen Doyles ideas to produce the extended concept of "element management", particularly of the major elements of life such as C,N & P (which are also "primary" pollutants) .The concept could be extended to the rest of the periodic table & would produce multiple focii, allowing the subdivision & refinement of the more "generic" concept of "waste management"..

                                                                                                      • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                                        Paul Comet

                                                                                                        Some further ideas: 1) Establish a network of carbon "accountants" to determin carbon sinks and; sources in each "domain" 2) Establish a network of  NPK  and other nutrients  "accountants" to determin nutrient  sinks and; sources in each "domain" .  3) Develop  municipal domains where local government determins public needs and invites industry, on a competitive basis, to serve those needs. A balanced power structure whereby it is the municipal needs of the community that decides which industries will best serve those needs (and maybe not the otherway round). Think about Venice during the 5th century CE, rising from the swamps of the Po delta when the mainland was overwhelmed by war, decline and destruction. Nothing but much mud (covered at high tide), reeds and fish! It was the establishment of excellent infrastructure & a good defensive site that formed the "medieval underpinning" of this little trading nation for more than 12 centuries. How much more naturally wealthy is the USA!

                                                                                            • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                              Paul Comet

                                                                                              From: Earth Challenge To: paul comet Sent: Mon, December 14, 2009 10:52:13 AM Subject: Virgin Earth Challenge Dear Paul, I’m afraid that your entry has not been short listed as a potential winner. The judging team found that tour entry is more about a low carbon system (CH4 from landfill) than a sequestration technology and the elements of your proposal where sequestration comes into play (biochar) were not sufficiently technical and we have applications that are more detailed and better quality in those areas already. Your thinking goes beyond the prize, however the aspects that are relevant to the prize are not technical enough. I am sorry and I wish you the best of luck with your project. Yours sincerely Robyn Robyn Kimber Virgin Earth Challenge

                                                                                              • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                                Paul Comet

                                                                                                Biochar on its own won't work! Will be interesting to see what approach they choose as winner as only a combination of approaches will work (in my view)! Where the landfill gas fitted into my application escapes me! (like gas!).

                                                                                                  • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                                    Paul Comet

                                                                                                    At the severe risk of losing technical credibility, I think I may have some progress on a philosophy of "mother earth". She may be more than just a network of "feedback mechanisms". Acknowledgement of Gaia is forbidden to the Abrahamic faiths, nevertheless, judging by NSIDC  Arctic Ice data, she is making her displeasure known! Hence a brief foray into some very Haram, Unkosher, Heretical territory: Hinduism, seems to have summarised a rather neat set of relationships.: The life generative principle allows a simple dualistic understanding of living & non living substance. This essentially "deadend" dualism conceals a 3 fold division of life into a trinity of 1)  creation (photosynthesis), 2) destruction (respiration) &  3) preservation (decomposition that regenerate nutrients & make the whole life cycle repeat indefinitely). Each one of these major life strategies have almost infinite variants (species). Thus duality conceals trinity, unity & plurality. Thus life may be understood in terms of the "obligate triad" - each respirer has to be matched by a photosynthetic organism & appropriate decomposers to deal with wastes. Without all 3 elements being present macroscopic life cannot flourish diversely for very long. We do not have to pray to her, but we must do her bidding - or else!

                                                                                                    The major problem being that we have to figure out ourselves what her "10 commandments" are! However the major one is(in my opinion) "Thou shalt not waste". There will be many others.

                                                                                                      • Re: Sustainability in the Curriculum
                                                                                                        Paul Comet

                                                                                                        In the interests of disclosure I would like to point out that I not hindu & also that the North East passage is now open (NSIDC) & has been for some time! Probably the the famed North West passage will be open by the middle of August. I have been trying to develop an independent (non- supernatural based) philosophy as to "what to do!". One aspect that that has not really addressed fully, is the entropy question - just how much solar/geothermal energy would be required per person with complementary autotrophs & hetrotrophs (organisms) to keep the whole carbon/nitrogen/hydrological cycle running: just how "medieval" do we have to get? Also material dilution occurs (cobalt is a good example). Hence the cobalt so useful in Vitamin B12 & in sewage transformation, might be lost "permanently" in blue porcelain. The implications are just how stringent do we have to be in recycling? Are some elements assumed to always be in excess? Hence thermodynamics & economics have to work hand in hand. My idea of a plan "B" is not really new - the post Roman age of Europe had exactly the same problems. The money dried up, outsourcing, excessive taxation of the poor, exemption from taxes for the rich, massive inflation, a very few aristocrats owning most of the land & eventually the entire unsustainable system collapsed.