Friday, December 19, 2014

A neat ozone+UV paper pointed out by See Arr Oh

Check out this really interesting Science paper highlighted by See Arr Oh, one where the authors transform cyclohexane to adipic acid (among other transformations) using ozone and 300 nm UV light. Obviously, this is a pretty neat method and one that should be highlighted to the broader scientific community.

I think it's obvious to the authors that a batch reactor approach is/would be sufficient for the laboratory, but not for industrial applications to large-scale polymer needs. From the Supporting Information:
In the current photo irradiation process, liquid reactant was gradually converted to solid precipitate. At the late stage of reaction process, a small amount of liquid reactant/intermediates were trapped in the solid precipitate. It is therefore inherently difficult to reach more than 90% conversion. Nevertheless, the problem can be overcome by designing a dynamic flow reactor allowing regular removal of solid precipitated products from the bottom of the reactor when a large scale production of solid adipic acid is concerned.
In my favorite formulation of the moment, "can" is doing a lot of work in that last sentence there. (Presumably, you'd need a ozone flow unit (and those exist), combined with a photoirradiation flow unit -- who knows, it could be done.)

I presume the economics would not work out for adipic acid, but would probably work out for higher-value monomers. Who knows? Either way, definitely a very interesting method -- congrats to the Hwang group. 

1 comment:

  1. Never underestimate chemical engineers! The process is cheaper and cleaner, so 10-20 years down the line something like this is likely to be happening in industrial plants. "Can" just takes brains, time and money, but it looks like it may well be worth doing.