Chemistry Goes Green
To encourage environmental stewardship, Angelo State chemistry students have become educators.
Their forum is the annual Spring Green Chemistry Fair and Symposium conducted by the ASU student affiliates of the American Chemical Society (ACS) since 2008.
�Chemistry is a big part of going green,� said Kaci Pruser, ACS student president and spring graduate.� �We thought that the symposium would be relevant to our school and we wanted an event that our organization could call its own.� Getting the word out to the public also makes you feel like you�ve really done something to help sustain the environment.�
Attendance has tripled over its brief history as the symposium has grown from an evening event with a couple of speakers to an all-day affair that includes a green vendor fair, student research poster showcase and several featured speakers.� This year�s speakers included Dr. William Carroll, vice president of Occidental Chemical Corp.; Bruno Antunes, procurement and logistics manager for Martifer Energy; and Dr. William Rogers of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
�We try to educate the public about things that they can do themselves,� said Kevin Boudreaux, senior chemistry instructor and ACS faculty advisor, �as well as show them the things that chemists and physicists can do in the process of trying to go green.�
�It also gives our students ideas about possible careers in environmental-type chemistry,� said Dr. Edith Osborne, assistant professor of chemistry and ACS co-advisor.� �We want to expose our students to potential careers as well as inform them and the community about how chemistry can help the environment.�
Another byproduct of the symposium is the national recognition it has garnered ASU�s student ACS chapter. �For four consecutive years, the group has been named a Commendable Chapter by the national ACS, and this year was also recognized as a Green Chemistry Chapter.
�Kaci (Pruser) thought it would be a good idea that we try to do some activities to get that kind of recognition because there are not that many Green Chapters among the ACS student organizations,� Boudreaux said.� �There are only about 30 such chapters out of all the student groups in the country.�
In addition to the symposium, the Angelo State ACS is also teaching by example.� Several of ASU�s organic labs have been converted to �micro-scale� set-ups, which use smaller amounts of reagents and solvents and generate less waste.
�There are processes and reactions at chemical plants and in our laboratories here at ASU, that if done one way, might produce waste that we would have to dispose of,� Osborne said. �Whereas, a different type of reaction might, in our case, teach the same concept yet be better for the environment and have less disposal cost.�
�We can also use smaller types of glassware, smaller flasks and things like that,� Boudreaux said.� �Those have the advantage that they are more durable than the larger flasks.� You drop a 100 milliliter flask, and it usually shatters.� You drop a 10 milliliter flask, and frequently it bounces.�
Those efforts have also extended to the students.
�Ever since we started the symposium, every year there have been more individual efforts,� Pruser said.� �A lot of us ask �what else can I do?�� Recycle paper, recycle plastics and recycle cardboard, that kind of thing, as well as just saving energy.� Working with and promoting the symposium makes us more aware.� And, you can�t be a hypocrite and say �do this� when you don�t, so I think it definitely promotes the efforts in our students.�
As a result, the ASU student ACS has created a win-win situation for the group, the environment and the university.
�It looks good for the university,� Boudreaux said, �that we have a student group that is doing these kinds of activities, that is presenting at national meetings and that is getting awards from these national societies.�