Everybody remembering their chemistry lessons will recall mixing ingredients into a solvent. This was sometimes water, but more often a solvent such as ether (flammable), chloroform (toxic) or benzene (cancerogenic). Bulk solvents used in industry pose a serious threat to human health and the environment, and their responsible management has a considerable cost.
Mechanochemistry is an energy-efficient alternative and uses high-frequency milling to drive reactions. Now the international team of scientists have, for the first time, studied a milling reaction in real time, using highly penetrating X-rays to observe the surprisingly rapid transformations as the mill mixes, grinds and transforms simple ingredients into a complex product. Scientists hope that this study opens new opportunities in Green Chemistry and environmentally-friendly synthesis as it avoids using bulk solvents.
This study was led by Tomislav Friščić of McGill University (Canada) in collaboration with Ivan Halasz from the University of Zagreb (Croatia), scientists from the University of Cambridge (UK), Max-Planck-Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart (Germany) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble (France).
The results are published in Nature Chemistry dated 2 December 2012.
There is a strong hope that all types of chemical reactions in a ball mill can now be studied and optimized for industrial processing. ‘These results certainly hold promise for improving the fundamental understanding of processes central to pharmaceutical, metallurgical, cement and mineral industries and should enable a more efficient use of energy, reduction in solvent and optimize the use of often expensive catalysts. This translates into good news for the environment, the industry and the consumers who will have to pay less”, concludes Tomislav Friščić a Professor at McGill University in Montreal.
Supplementary Information from Nature
- A better way to make chemicals? (esciencenews.com)
- Scientists Employ Highly Penetrating X-rays to Observe Milling Reaction in Real … – Azom.com (azom.com)
- New strides in understanding mechanochemical reactions (foresight.org)
- A shock to pollution in chemistry (eurekalert.org)
- A better way to make chemicals? Technique for observing ‘mechanochemical’ synthesis could boost green chemistry (sciencedaily.com)
- Technique for observing ‘mechanochemical’ synthesis could boost green chemistry (phys.org)
- Green Chemistry & its 12 principles (cseindiaportal.wordpress.com)