TOOLS: Weighing the Alternatives

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Science  06 Oct 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5796, pp. 27
DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5796.27c

Yield isn't everything when choosing how to synthesize an organic compound. Safety, cost of raw materials, the ease of isolating the products, and other considerations matter, too. To help evaluate these factors, fire up the calculator EcoScale, devised by chemists in Belgium, the United States, and Switzerland. Users key in the reactants, products, and details of the procedure, such as whether it requires specialized glassware or high pressure. EcoScale then rates each reaction from 0 to 100. Risky protocols reduce the scores by the largest amount. Explosive reagents blast 10 points off the final tally, for example.

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