Two approaches to green chemistry in industrially driven processes: aluminum tert-butoxide as a rate enhancing Meerwein-Ponndorf-Verley reduction catalyst applied to the technological transfer from batch to continuous flow and structural modifications of functionalized trialkylsilylamines as energy efficient carbon dioxide capture solvents
Flack, Kyle M.
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Green chemistry principles have been applied to the enhancement of two industrial chemistry problems. An industrially used reaction to form alcohols from aldehydes and ketones, the Meerwein-Ponndorf-Verley reduction, was improved by introducing a new catalyst Al(OtBu)₃. Due to the lower state of aggregation of this catalyst versus the conventional Al(OiPr)₃ catalyst, reduction rates were found to be faster in both pure iPrOH and mixed solvent systems for three model compounds: benzaldehyde, acetophenone, and a complex, chiral ketone, (S)-CMK. This allowed for the successful implementation of two important milestones; lowering the amount of catalyst needed necessary to complete the reactions (an economic benefit and lower waste) and the conversion from traditional batch reactions to continuous flow (a processing benefit) whereby reactions can be scaled-out rather than scaled-up. Another industrially important field of research that was focused on was CO₂ capture. High energy demands from current CO₂ capture methods such as aqueous amine solvents, specifically from coal-fired power plant flue gas, led to the development of non-aqueous reversible ionic liquids based on silylated amines. Structural modifications of the substitution around the silicon atom, the length of the alkyl chain bonding the silicon and amine, branching along the alkyl backbone, and investigating secondary and primary amines within this class of silylated amines were completed. These amines were reacted with CO₂ and the CO₂ capacity, the ionic liquid viscosity, reversal temperature and reaction enthalpy were all considered as a function of structure. In all cases the capacity was found to be not only greater than that of monethanolamine, an industrial standard, but higher than theoretical predictions through the formation of carbamic acid. Viscosity, reversal temperature, and reaction enthalpy were all found to be tunable through structure. These modifications gave significant insight into the necessary direction for optimization of these solvents as energy-efficient replacements of current CO₂ capture technology.