Chemistry For A Sustainable World


Sustainable Chemistry is both the implementation of sustainability in the production, use and fate of chemicals (Green Chemistry) and the application of chemistry and chemical products to enable sustainable development. The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework for the creation of a sustainable common future, in which all the world’s needs are met without compromising the abilities of future generations to provide for their needs. The chemical sciences and chemical scientists have much to offer to all of the SDGs. In this talk Professor Tom Welton OBE FRSC FCGI will explore how chemistry is currently contributing to achieving the SDGs, some of the challenges to still be faced and the research that is being conducted to overcome those challenges.


Professor Tom Welton is Professor of Sustainable Chemistry at Imperial College London and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Ambassador for Sustainable Chemistry Policy. Prior to this he was Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College (2014-2019), and before that Head of the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College (2007-2014).

Sustainable chemistry, Tom's research area, combines the implementation of sustainability in the production use and fate of chemicals and the application of chemistry and chemical products to enable sustainable development. It encompasses a range of activities, such as making biodegradable products, sourcing chemicals from renewable resources and/or making chemicals processes more efficient in energy and materials.

Solvents are used in vast amounts. Hence, the development of sustainable solvent technologies is a priority. He has worked with ionic liquids throughout his career. The central academic aim of his research is to understand and exploit how the bulk properties of ionic liquids arise from the molecular properties and interactions of their constituent ions. This extends to their use as reaction solvents and the role that the immediate chemical environments they provide to reacting solutes influence the reaction process. Much of his work seeks to develop methodologies for the production of chemical products from biomass. He is the author of over 160 papers across inorganic, organic and physical chemistry.

He is widely acknowledged to be a champion of diversity in science. In recognition of these activities, he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2017.