Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry uses a set of guiding principles and methods for reducing pollution at its source.
Renuka Manchanayakage, Ph.D., conducts research in the field of green chemistry. Specifically, she focuses on the development of environmentally benign solvents and synthetic methods. In the ongoing quest to improve the environmental compatibility of chemical synthesis, alternatives to conventional organic solvents have attracted increasing attention. In her research, Manchanayakage focuses on the synthesis, characterization and applications of chiral and achiral ionic liquids. Ionic liquids are poorly coordinated ionic salts with some intriguing properties such as high thermal and chemical stability, non-flammability, recyclability and high-loading capacity. In addition, she also uses a green technique; electrosynthesis in her research. Electrosynthesis is an economical and environmentally benign technology that possesses enormous potential for the development of eco-friendly transformations. In this method, organic reactions are conducted in an electrochemical cell. The method prevents the use of dangerous and polluting external chemical oxidants or reductants and minimizes the waste formation of these reactions, making the process environmentally friendly and economically feasible.
With green chemistry research, students gain valuable experience of methods and techniques used in organic chemistry, electrochemistry and organometallic chemistry. Students have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals such as Green Chemistry, Electrochemistry Communications and Tetrahedron Letters and presented their work at national and regional conferences.