Switchable Solvents for Novel Chemical Processing

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Grilly, Joshua David
Eckert, Charles A.
Liotta, Charles L.
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This work seeks to develop new solvents for environmentally benign chemical synthesis. Switchable solvents are a new class of compounds that change properties upon the application of some stimulus such as heat, UV light, or pH. We have developed the use of a new solvent, thiirane oxide, that has chemical properties similar to DMSO. Thiirane oxide, however, undergoes facile decomposition to two gases at temperatures above 100 C, which is much lower than the temperature required for removing DMSO. Thus we have a solvent with excellent solvation properties, but with a built-in switch for easier removal. However, thiirane oxide leaves behind sulfurous products which make the reverse reaction to reform the solvent unfeasible. We are also developing the use of another solvent, piperylene sulfone, which is expected to have good solvent properties, yet with decomposition products that can be reacted to reform the solvent. This thesis also details the work to date on piperylene sulfone. Gas-expanded liquids (GXLs) also show promise as a new reaction medium. In order to design solvent systems that take full advantage of this medium, we desire to understand the microstructure of these fluids. To that end, we are using cage reactions to probe solute-solvent and solvent-solvent interactions at the molecular level. This thesis discusses the current research on using cage reactions to probe the structure of GXLs.
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