Green Chemistry and Catalysis

To help with sustainability, chemists use principles of green chemistry to help develop new chemical products and processes that are more environmentally friendly.

On this page you’ll find information about green chemistry and catalysis, what University of Alberta scientists are working on in this area, and the effect their work has.

What Is Green Chemistry?

Green chemistry, sometimes referred to as sustainable chemistry, is an area of science that focuses on designing chemical products and processes that produce as few hazardous substances as possible. Green chemistry is not necessarily a separate branch of chemistry but a particular approach to guide developments in the field.

What Is Catalysis?

Catalysis refers to the use of catalysts to accelerate chemical reactions. Catalysts are separate substances that, when used to accelerate reactions, do not undergo any permanent change. For example, potassium permanganate can be used to increase the speed of decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas.


Latest News in Chemistry

Read some of the news stories about UAlberta scientists and their research as it relates to green chemistry and catalysis.

Doubling the efficiency of solar energy capture

UAlberta chemist’s advances in singlet fission push future for alternative energy



Chemistry Projects and Initiatives

Cluster of teardrop-shaped light bulbs

Future Energy Systems

Future Energy Systems is one of many exciting initiatives championed by Faculty of Science professors and students.

Launched in 2016 with $75 million from the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence fund, Future Energy Systems comprises many projects from researchers from different disciplines of science to help Canada transition to a low-net carbon economy.


You can find out more about some of the specific renewable energy projects UAlberta chemists are working on by clicking the links below:

Professor Profiles

Chemist Jillian Buriak is designing the next generation of solar cells. Photo credit: John Ulan

Professor Jillian Buriak

Read about Jillian Buriak’s search for the 24-hour solar cell to help power a planet that has become over-reliant on a limited carbon resource.


Headshot of Ran Zhao, environmental chemist at the university of alberta

Assistant Professor Ran Zhao

Read about one of the Department of Chemistry’s newest assistant professors, Ran Zhao, who specializes in environmental chemistry.


UAlberta Chemists

Do you have questions about green chemistry and catalysis? Talk to some of our professors:

  • Dennis Hall

    Dennis Hall's Research Focus: modern organic synthesis, development of new reactions and strategies to access functional molecules with potential uses in biology and medicine, exploring applications of organoboron compounds, design of unnatural biopolymers, and solid-phase organic synthesis

  • Derrick Clive

    Derrick Clive's Research Focus: synthetic organic chemistry, synthesis of structurally complex natural products with biochemical and medicinal properties, and the development of new strategies and methodologies for making complicated structures

  • Eric Rivard

    Eric Rivard's Research Focus: synthetic inorganic and polymer chemistry, solar energy, catalysis, chemical sensing, and quantum mechanical (DFT) methods

  • Florence Williams

    Florence Williams' Research Focus: synthetic chemistry, organometallic catalysis, chemical biology, biochemical techniques, investigating the mechanism of activity of various neurotrophic natural products, and developing new tool reactions that can be used in living cellular systems

  • Frederick West

    Frederick West's Research Focus: chemical synthesis, catalysis, novel strategies for construction of complex natural products, new methodology based on unusual reactive intermediates, and de novo design of bioactive small molecules with unique binding or transport properties

  • Jillian Buriak

    Jillian Buriak's Research Focus: nanoscience and materials chemistry, nanoscale structures for solar energy, catalysis, nanoscale patterning via stamp lithography, and nanomedicine and transplantation

  • John Vederas

    John Vederas's Research Focus: organic synthesis, spectroscopic methodology, mass spectrometry, isotopic techniques, natural products isolation, enzymatic reactions, culturing of microorganisms, and formation of antimicrobial peptides, amino acid metabolites, and polyketides

  • Jonathan Veinot

    Jonathan Veinot's Research Focus: nanotechnology, organic optoelectronics, nanoparticle synthesis and derivatization, and polymer-based organic light-emitting diodes

  • Julianne Gibbs

    Julianne Gibbs's Research Focus: molecular recognition at buried solid and liquid interfaces, second harmonic generation, and sum frequency generation

  • Rylan Lundgren

    Rylan Lundgren's Research Focus: catalysis, organometallic chemistry, synthesis, and reactivity

  • Sarah Styler

    Sarah Styler's Research Focus: environmental chemistry, road dust, composition of airborne particulate matter, photochemistry, urban air quality, and atmospheric processes.

  • Steven Bergens

    Steven Bergens' Research Focus: enantioselective homogeneous catalysis, heterogeneous catalysis of electrochemical reactions in fuel cells, synthetic organic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, electrochemistry, and the construction and operation of prototype fuel cells

  • Todd Lowary

    Todd Lowary's Research Focus: synthetic chemistry, the conformational analysis of oligosaccharides, the design of novel therapeutic agents, and the identification of new drugs to treat tuberculosis

Are you looking for another professor studying chemistry?

Find a Professor


Why Pursue Graduate Studies in Chemistry at UAlberta?

Studying chemistry at the graduate level at the University of Alberta offers students a world-class education with plenty of opportunities to complete meaningful research.

Funding is often a major inhibitor for students trying to further their education at the graduate level, and what sets UAlberta apart from other programs is all graduate students in the Department of Chemistry are guaranteed funding (up to 2.5 years for MSc students and 5 years for PhD students). These funding opportunities, which are available through various scholarship programs like NSERC and AITF, make it so our students can focus on their research and classes without worrying about their finances.

The Faculty of Science is proud to offer some of the best tools, facilities, and labs in the industry to help our students complete their research, including:

  • Mass spectrometers
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometers
  • Scanning electron microscopes
  • Glass, machine, and electronic shops
  • Nano fabrication lab, and more

All of our labs are managed by experts in their respective fields to ensure that all of our students are supported whenever they need it.