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Elements of a Sustainable World

John Evans

Publication Date - 19 October 2020

ISBN: 9780198827832

336 pages
9.7 x 7.4 inches

In Stock


We have 118 known chemical elements as our palette in our context of sustaining our world. Our context is considered in terms of the four spheres of the ancient world: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This book shows how chemical principles can be used to understand the pressures on our world, spanning from greenhouse emissions through freshwater supplies to energy generation and storage. The supply of the chemical elements is key to their contribution to alleviating these pressures. Most synthetic and radioactive elements are not available in sufficient supply to contribute in this. Some solutions, such as wind turbines, batteries, fuel cells and automotive exhaust remediation pose questions about sustainable supplies of critical elements. With an eye on the target of the IPCC of capping the temperature anomaly to 1.5 oC (RCP2.6), options for carbon capture and storage, and the generation of energy and element supply from the sea are assessed. The consequences of the escape of plastics and pharmaceuticals into the wider environment for water integrity are also considered.

This book is designed around providing a one semester course for students who have entered at least the second level of university chemistry. It provides explanations and entries to current environmental issues. For students of environmental science, it provides an understanding of the chemical principles underpinning the causes and possible solutions to these issues. Each chapter has a set appropriate study questions. A study guide is available for the book.


  • Advanced undergraduate level textbook on sustainable chemistry
  • Contextual focus on four spheres of the ancient world: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water
  • Consistent style to aid readers in understanding
  • Provides current evidence of environmental effects

About the Author(s)

John Evans, Emeritus Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Southampton

John Evans holds a BSc (Imperial College) and PhD (University of Cambridge) in Chemistry. Following further periods of research at Princeton University and Cambridge he moved to the University of Southampton in 1976 as a Royal Society Pickering Research Fellow. He became Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in 1990. There he has served as Head of Teaching, Head of Department and Dean of Science. He was also Science Program Advisor at the Diamond Light Source |(2002-2007) and his research has centred on studying catalysts in situ. He was also an editor of the Oxford Chemistry Primer series.

Table of Contents

    1 Planet Earth
    1.1. Planetary resources
    1.2. Differential pressure on land, freshwater and oceans
    1.3. Effects of CO2 increases
    1.4. Solar energy supply
    1.5. Solar radiation spectrum
    1.6. Absorption of the energy emission from Earth
    1.7. Radiative Forcing
    1.8. Atmospheric lifetime
    1.9. Global Warming Potential
    1.10. The energy balance
    1.11. A sustainable approach
    1.12. Questions
    Palette of the Elements
    2.1. Natural abundance of the elements
    2.2. Mineral availability
    2.3. Element Transmutation
    2.4. Element supply
    2.5. Elemental Properties
    2.6. Element extraction: solubility
    2.7. Oxidation State Stability
    2.8. Terms and States
    2.9. Embodied energy, carbon and water
    2.10. Questions
    Earth: Minerals to Materials
    3.1. s elements
    3.2. p-elements
    3.3. d-elements
    3.4. f -elements
    3.5. Structural Materials
    3.6. Questions
    4.1. The volatile elements
    4.2. Atmospheric components
    4.3. Atmospheric solution: wind turbines
    4.4. Question
    5.1. Petrochemicals from carbon oxides
    5.2. Polymers
    5.3. Chemicals from biomass alternatives
    5.4. Solar energy conversion
    5.5. Nuclear energy conversion
    5.6. Hydrogen as a fuel
    5.7. Batteries and supercapacitors
    5.8. Questions
    6.1. Properties of water
    6.2. Distribution of water
    6.3. Distribution of elements in water
    6.4. Water in processing
    6.5. Desalination of water
    6.6. Seawater as a source of elements
    6.7. Water remediation from heavy metals and organics
    6.8. Other organic contaminants of water
    6.9. Questions
    Prospects for Planet Earth
    7.1. Chapter 1: Planet Earth
    7.2. Chapters 2 and 3: Palette of the Elements and Earth
    7.3. Chapter 4: Air
    7.4. Chapter 5: Fire
    7.5. Chapter 6: Water
    7.6. Questions
    Study Guide
    Chapter 1: Planet Earth
    Chapter 2: Palette of the Elements
    Chapter 3: Earth
    Chapter 4: Air
    Chapter 5: Fire
    Chapter 6: Water
    Chapter 7: Prospects