The application of green chemistry and engineering to novel sustainable solvents and processes
Marus, Gregory Alan
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The implementation of sustainable solvents and processes is critical to new developments in reducing environmental impact, improving net efficiency, and securing economic profitability in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. In order to address the challenge of sustainability, researchers have used switchable solvents for both reaction and separation by utilizing a built-in switch to undergo a step change in chemical and physical properties. This allows us to facilitate reactions in the solvent then activate the switch to enable separation and facile product recovery. Subsequently, we can recover the solvent for reuse and avoid energy- or waste-intensive separation processes; thus we are developing and using these switchable solvents as sustainable and environmentally benign alternatives to traditional processes. In this research, we enable the sustainable scale-up of a switchable solvent - piperylene sulfone - a "volatile" and recyclable DMSO replacement. In the development of this process, we improved the reaction performances and developed a green purification method. Furthermore, we enable and demonstrate the implementation of a Meerwein-Ponndorf-Verley (MPV) reduction, a pharmaceutically relevant reaction, into a continuous flow platform. The innovation of continuous flow processes can replace traditional batch reaction technology, and is indeed a key research area that has been acknowledged by the pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, we utilize the switchable sulfone solvents, piperylene and butadiene sulfone, for reaction and separation of HMF produced from monosaccharides as an alternative to a process which has been limited by an inefficient separation step.