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All quiet on the western front

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Bodgan Comanita
MarketChemica

Member of Chimica Oggi – Chemistry Today Scientific Advisory Board

Chemistry Today invited me five years ago to write an article about 2012 green chemistry year in review. Reluctantly, I picked hydraulic fracturing not because of its desirability but rather on mere practical considerations.  

Putting “green chemistry” and “fracking” in one sentence was a little risqué back then and yet, the perfect alignment between market forces and geopolitical interests to keep oil prices low supported my bet. Several years later, The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute established The Hydraulic Fracturing Industry Roundtable thus acknowledging indirectly the reduced carbon footprint of coal-to-gas migration in US power stations.  This was certainly not the carbon neutral economy we had envisioned but it was at least a step away from coal.

Fast-forward to 2017 and my idea of sustainability and green chemistry is just about to get a shade darker by adding “clean-coal” to the mix. As the US re-launches manufacturing, China fights rampant pollution and Germany phases out nuclear power, the “clean-coal” technology evolved from a contradiction-in-terms into a respectable solution to the world’s very real energy ...