Supercritical Fluids

Supercritical fluids can be used as solvents, which enable reactions to be carried out without the use of harsh reagents or other toxic solvents. It is possible to reuse the supercritical solvent due to excellent post reaction recovery. The equipment used in reactions can be made smaller and unwanted side products can be eliminated.

The solvent properties of a number of fluids including CO2, CH2F2 and CF3CFH2 are being characterised by a variety of techniques including dielectrometry, UV-Visible spectroscopy and voltammetry. Investigations into solute solubility and a number of reactions in supercritical fluids are also being conducted. In addition extensive research into electrochemical processes has also been carried out.

Electrochemical Studies in SC

Ionic Liquids Lab

The group pioneered electrochemical studies in sc. We designed and built the sophisticated equipment necessary for operating at high pressures and temperatures and developed electrochemical sensors to measure solubility and follow rates of reactions in situ. We have characterised solvation in supercritical fluids and the effects of density on solute-solute interactions, most notably with ionic species. We have also just completed the first comprehensive study of hydrogen bonding in supercritical fluids and these data are being used to interpret the pressure dependency of the product distributions for a variety of reactions.

Work with the EPSRC

Our initial work was funded by the EPSRC, Ineos Fluor and Advanced Phytonic Ltd. We have pioneered the use of supercritical hydrofluorocarbon solvents for catalytic reactions. An EPSRC funded postdoctoral researcher studied the mechanisms of a number of reactions in these media and I currently have two industrially funded students looking at Friedel Crafts and hydrogenation reactions and an EPSRC funded PDRA studying metal catalysed polymerisation in scHFCs.

Work with Impact Faraday

Impact Faraday funded a studentship to investigate the formation of colloids such as emulsions and micelles in sc fluids. This was an unexplored area where we hope to make significant advances as clustering has important ramifications for product separation, reaction mechanism and solute solubility. These colloids were characterised using quartz crystal microbalance, voltammetry, density and conductivity measurements and measure the effect of clustering/local density on the above applications.

Gas Expanded Liquids

We have also been studying the area of gas expanded liquids. The principle behind this technology is that solvent properties can be tuned by pressurising a liquid with a gas. This has important ramifications for phase transfer catalysis and natural product extraction.

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Department of Chemistry
University of Leicester
Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK


Tel: [+44] (0)116 252 2100

Fax: [+44] (0)116 252 3789

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