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Green chemistry solvent selection guide success

Posted on 13 August 2018

A solvent selection guide developed in collaboration with York’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence has been adopted by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.

A researcher in a lab

The freely available guide, designed to encourage chemists to seek out greener solvents, has been adopted by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, a world-leader in green chemistry education, as their recommended method of selecting more environmentally friendly solvents.

A new methodology

The guide ranks solvents according to safety, health and environmental criteria, to give a clear assessment of the environmental-friendliness of both traditional and more modern solvents. It is accompanied by an interactive tool which allows users to add new solvents to the guide and rank them as they are developed.

The guide was developed as part of the CHEM21 project by scientists from Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, the GCCE and Charnwood Technical Consulting Ltd. Initially working with four existing in-house guides, between which there were discrepancies, the collaborative research team developed a new methodology to rank solvents, which unified the existing guides.

Bio-derived solvents

An important feature of the new guide is the introduction of bio-derived solvents. These increasingly used solvents are renewable, but they do not always fulfil other green criteria, making their assessment alongside classical solvents essential.  

Dr Rob McElroy of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence said “This transparent and relatively simple ranking system, as compared to current pharmaceutical tools, offers scientists an easy to use, automated solvent ranking system.

“It also has the ability to be further populated by novel compounds and non-classical solvents, using information that is easily accessible and freely available. Adoption by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute vindicates the benefits of the new methodology and will significantly increase its impact."

ACS Green Chemistry Institute

Founded in 1876 and chartered by the U.S. Congress, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society. Its mission is “to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.”

The ACS Green Chemistry Institute seeks to be the premier change agent that has the knowledge, expertise, and capabilities to catalyse the movement of the chemical enterprise toward sustainability through the application of green chemistry principles. ACS GCI supports research, works to integrate green chemistry into all levels of chemical education, aids companies with industrial implementation, hosts conferences, and coordinates efforts with an international network of green chemistry advocates.


The CHEM21 solvent selection guide was created as part of the IMI funded CHEM21 project (Chemical Manufacturing Methods for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industries). CHEM21 has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement n°115360, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and EFPIA companies’ in kind contribution.

Further information

ACS Green Chemistry: Tools for Green Chemistry & Engineering

CHEM21: The CHEM21 solvent selection guide