Enabling industrial deployment of deep eutectic solvents through manufacturing tools

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

Solvents are ubiquitous in chemistry, used to bring species together for reactions, for separations and for processing but most chemical synthesis makes use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are toxic, volatile, flammable and are largely passive spectators to the reactions carried out within them yet are central to all industrial production of chemical species from therapeutics to catalyst particles. Recently, however, a family of novel solvents, deep eutectic solvents (DES) have been demonstrated, by one of our team, to allow water-sensitive synthetic reactions to be safely done on the benchtop and also to play an active role in directing reactions and structuring nanomaterials. This recently developed class of solvents therefore have enormous potential to replace VOCs with safer, greener liquids which, in addition, have intriguing properties, currently not understood, that allow them to defy existing synthetic practice. Yet DES bring their own challenges to transitioning them into manufacturing practice, requiring development of a new manufacturing platform to enable their rapid deployment in industrial processes, as well as requiring an improved understanding of how these solvents facilitate syntheses.

DES are room temperature liquids consisting of mixtures of a salt and hydrogen-bonding neutral molecules. Cheap, non-toxic, biodegradable, sourced from biomass, they are highly tuneable for specific applications. Yet, surprisingly little is understood about how DES structures and interactions facilitate and direct syntheses. This project aims to link a greater understanding of solvent structuring in DES and solute interactions in DES, with state-of-the-art organometallic synthesis and functional meta-materials preparation, and crucially focuses on implementation of manufacturing solutions to allow these fundamental investigations a route into real industrial practices. Use of molecular assemblies in DES and novel continuous manufacturing technologies will open the way to design of cheaper, safer, more environmentally friendly reaction processes, leading to new functional materials and greener routes to pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and other fine chemicals.

Planned Impact

There is enormous potential for widespread impact of deep eutectic solvents in manufacturing, underpinning technological developments over several sectors and thereby contributing to a productive UK economy. Applications of DES in separations, fine chemical synthesis and materials production are rapidly developing in research labs and the project proposed here will propel this work into advanced manufacturing platforms capitalising on the flexibility, low cost and enhanced safety aspects of these solvents. The impact of this work will be felt in a variety of areas, most directly in pharmaceuticals manufacturing and in transport by providing improved materials for emissions control. However, the new fundamental understandings and technologies we will generate will allow for rapid exploitation and commercialisation of DES based processes, in fields from separations to formulation.

Increasingly stringent environmental legislation and the push for low-carbon, resource-efficient sustainable economies within Europe (eg COM2010/614) are driving the search for low cost solvents from renewable sources - replacing toxic organic solvents with safer, eco-friendlier alternatives is a key tenet of Green Chemistry. Tuneable DES from renewable sources are of rising interest, and when paired with flow manufacturing platforms offer innovative new ways to direct syntheses that also allow efficient solvent recycling and product separations. Understanding DES participation in reactions offers the exciting possibility of tailoring solvent-solute interactions to promote desired reaction pathways and self-assembly, reducing waste and utilizing low energy routes to materials. This work will establish underpinning design rules and enabling flow manufacturing technologies for DES-enabled benchtop organometallic catalysed synthesis and synthesis of meta-materials used in technologies from solar water splitting, to photovoltaics and catalysis.

Societal impacts are likely on a longer timescale. Replacement of organic solvents with DES in flow enabling high selectivity and specificity for syntheses will reduce waste, save energy, enhance safety and lower costs for drugs. New materials for exhaust remediation produced via sustainable DES in flow manufacturing will provide lower cost solutions for greener transport reducing atmospheric pollution, improving health. As processes involving DES are implemented by industry, product manufacturing will change, incorporating these more economical and sustainable processes that will have a positive impact on wealth and the environment. We have two industrial partners, Johnson Matthey and Janssen who see immediate potential benefits to this work, in meta-materials and pharmaceuticals, the focus areas of this proposal, but these are only two of the broad potential applications for these solvents and the advanced manufacturing solutions which facilitate their use. Both partners will provide industry pull advice and assistance to this project to focus our efforts towards economically feasible routes to commercialisation of DES in flow systems for these areas. To ensure our research is widely disseminated we will maintain a project website and twitter account highlighting our own and other developments on DES as well as publishing via open access routes. We also plan to hold a 'Power Symposium' in year 2 on DES design and applications to highlight challenges within the manufacturing sector, connecting with both industrial stakeholders and expert researchers on DES.
This grant will also provide training and networking opportunities to three PDRAs, enabling them to launch their careers in this exciting, broad and rapidly growing field. The UK will therefore benefit from trained researchers, and potentially licensable new technologies utilising deep eutectic solvents. We will also pursue a variety of public engagement activities and media coverage to ensure the wider public recognises the implications of this project.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Atri RS (2020) Morphology Modulation of Ionic Surfactant Micelles in Ternary Deep Eutectic Solvents. in The journal of physical chemistry. B

 
Description Novel method to prepare porous cerium oxides has been developed, these have undergone catalytic testing and this data will shortly be published. The structuring of other metal oxides and the influence of surfactants on these structures is being probed. The structure of choline chloride:glycerol deep eutectic solvent has been determined and studies of its interactions with organometallic reaction components is ongoing.
Exploitation Route Utilization of deep eutectic solvents in preparation of functional metal oxide materials and as safer solvents for chemical synthesis.
Sectors Chemicals,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Reactions in Deep Eutectic Solvents: Time-resolved studies of structure control via solvent bonding
Amount £44,956 (GBP)
Funding ID Studentship Agreement #SA7450 
Organisation ISIS Neutron Source Facility 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2019 
End 09/2023
 
Title Data supporting: Morphology modulation of ionic surfactant micelles in ternary deep eutectic solvents 
Description This dataset contains raw and processed data in support of the named publication. This consists primarily of small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) data for mixtures of anionic and cationic surfactants in ternary deep eutectic solvents. Data files for differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and viscosity measurements on the pure deep eutectic solvents are also included. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
URL https://researchdata.bath.ac.uk/id/eprint/860
 
Description InDES - Enabling industrial deployment of deep eutectic solvents through manufacturing tools 
Organisation University of Bern
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Bath is lead on managing the project. We use neutron wide and small angle scattering measurements to try to understand the mechanisms of reactions in deep eutectic solvents involving organometallic species and forming metal oxide micro and nanoparticles. We also develop new routes to porous transition metal oxide and nanoparticle materials using amphiphiles and other species in deep eutectic solvents.
Collaborator Contribution Cambridge brings expertise in flow chemistry so that reactions in deep eutectic solvents can be carried out in flow, to overcome some of the limitations of viscosity of these solvents, Bern is expert in organometallic synthetic chemistry and is developing new reactions using deep eutectic solvents to make them safer, and easier to carry out under ambient conditions.
Impact too early to have outcomes yet.
Start Year 2019
 
Description InDES - Enabling industrial deployment of deep eutectic solvents through manufacturing tools 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Bath is lead on managing the project. We use neutron wide and small angle scattering measurements to try to understand the mechanisms of reactions in deep eutectic solvents involving organometallic species and forming metal oxide micro and nanoparticles. We also develop new routes to porous transition metal oxide and nanoparticle materials using amphiphiles and other species in deep eutectic solvents.
Collaborator Contribution Cambridge brings expertise in flow chemistry so that reactions in deep eutectic solvents can be carried out in flow, to overcome some of the limitations of viscosity of these solvents, Bern is expert in organometallic synthetic chemistry and is developing new reactions using deep eutectic solvents to make them safer, and easier to carry out under ambient conditions.
Impact too early to have outcomes yet.
Start Year 2019