Universiteit Leiden

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Sustainable Chemistry and Biotechnology

About this minor

Why opt for this minor?

The advanced minor programme is intended for students from different backgrounds to extend the horizon of their knowledge around the major challenges in sustainable chemistry. 

After completing the programme, students:

  • can explain the general concept of sustainability and evaluate a potential sustainable solution to a chemistry problem;
  • can describe natural element cycles and critically reflect on the impact of human activity on these cycles; 
  • can critically reflect on sustainability of chemical processes and products;
  • can describe the fundamental chemical problems in energy conversion and critically reflect on sustainable energy production;
  • can demonstrate a capacity to collaborate in interdisciplinary teams and contribute to a shared goal.

Forms of education

We aim to form a student community for the duration of this minor. The Anthropocene course will consist of small groups to discuss the sustainability questions introduced by guest lecturers and the students will share their views in presentations and discussions. This is a prelude to the Group project that will delve deeper into specific questions.
Other courses will consist of lectures and tutorials, as well as discussions, presentations or writing assignments.

Minor Structure

The minor consists of three courses in each period, and a group project running the whole semester. The first period starts off with the three-week course Anthropocene: The Planet of Man, which serves as an introduction into the subject as well as for building a community of students. This course is followed by two theoretical courses and the start of the group project. The second period offers again two theoretical courses, a series of guest lectures, and the larger part of the group project. Educational forms comprise a mix of lectures, seminars, guest lectures, and group work, and will take place at both universities.

Course Overview

Course EC
Anthropocene: The Planet of Man 5
Green Chemistry 4
Chemical Energy Transition: From Nanoscience to Technology 4
Sustainable Chemical Industry based on Non-Fossil Feedstocks 4
Energy Transition: Photon Power 4
Examples from Sustainable Industry 2
Group Project 7

Course Description

Introduction course that aims to provide a broad picture of sustainability issues and to convey the sense of urgency.

Sustainable synthesis of valuable products, from fundamental principles to application.

Energy conversion in nature; Fuel cell chemistry, the hydrogen economy, batteries, carbon capture.

Biomass conversion; Catalytic conversion for chemicals and products; Recycling of waste streams; Enzymatic and microbe systems.

Photosynthesis, artificial photosynthesis and solar cells.

Industrial examples of successes and challenges in implementation of circular concepts. 

The students will address a sustainability problem in small groups. They will define the topic, find literature to give a qualitative and quantitative description and critically discuss possible solutions. The group project runs over the full length of the minor and trains transferable skills in collaboration, critical thinking and oral and written communication. Assessment is based on presentations and discussions with the other student groups.

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