Don’t Forget Thermodynamics

Author: Vera KoesterORCID iD, Jasmin Herr, Johanna Rath

Professor Klaus Kümmerer, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Germany, has been awarded the Wöhler Prize For Sustainable Chemistry by the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCH, German Chemical Society) for his outstanding contributions to sustainable chemistry, such as recyclable plastics, wastewater reuse, and end-of-life management of solar cells. He was one of the first to introduce the concept of “benign by design,” in which molecules are designed to be less harmful to the environment.

Klaus Kümmerer has successfully tested the concept in practical examples, such as the development of less environmentally harmful ionic liquids and biodegradable antibiotics. He is also committed to integrating sustainability issues into the education of chemists, and has designed and established courses in this area. In January 2024, Klaus Kümmerer received the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande) for his commitment to sustainable chemistry and pharmaceuticals. It is the only general merit award of the Federal Republic of Germany.


We met with Klaus Kümmerer at the GDCh-Wissenschaftsforum Chemie (WiFo 2023) in Leipzig, Germany, and talked about green and sustainable chemistry, the importance of kinetics, and why it is important to do something outside your area of interest once in a while.

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