Foundation: Critical elements

Download this module

A4 PDF | Letter PDF

Critical elements

This page contains material taken from A. J. Hunt, The Importance of Elemental Sustainability and Critical Element Recovery for the Pharmaceutical Industry, in Green and Sustainable Medicinal Chemistry: Methods, Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industry, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2016, ch. 5, pp. 54-62.. It is copyright to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and is reproduced here with their express permission. If you wish to reproduce it elsewhere you must obtain similar permission from the RSC.

Elements are considered to be “critical” if they have significant supply risk issues and if restricted could harm a company’s business or nations economy.  The chemical industry, including the pharmaceutical industry, is dependent upon petroleum feedstocks to supply a significant proportion of its starting materials.  However in addition to this, metals and many other elements that are declining in stocks are also widely employed, in particular the use of platinum group metals catalysts, which will have a significant effect on the industry in future.  The concept of elemental sustainability, a concept whereby each element within the periodic table is guaranteed for use by both current and future generations, is therefore becoming increasingly important. [1]

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module you should:

  • Understand the factors contributing to elemental sustainability;
  • Be aware of the alternatives to mining to source critical elements;

and be able to: 

  • Describe the current practices of obtaining elements;
  • Describe linear and circular economies.

 

  1. A. J. Hunt, The Importance of Elemental Sustainability and Critical Element Recovery for the Pharmaceutical Industry, in Green and Sustainable Medicinal Chemistry: Methods, Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industry, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2016, ch. 5, pp. 54-62.