Sustainable “green” Chemistry


Why is the process of manufacturing ibuprofen an excellent example of green synthesis?

The modern industrial-scale synthesis of ibuprofen has very high atom efficiency, and it has been modified from the original synthesis to be both more environmentally friendly and more cost effective. The original method involved six synthetic steps but used stoichiometric (as opposed to catalytic) quantities of reagents, had lower atom efficiency, and produced undesirable quantities of waste. The modern alternative, on the other hand, requires just three steps, each of which is catalytic in nature. The first step employs a recyclable catalyst (hydrogen fluoride, HF) and produces almost no waste. The second and third steps each achieve 100% atom efficiency (wow!). This process truly represents an ideal benchmark for excellence in green synthesis on the industrial scale.


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