Solvent Selection

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In the chemical industry solvents are used in various process steps such as reaction and separation. To minimize the energy demand of the entire process the goal is to select a solvent that promotes the chemical reactivity as well as the subsequent downstream processing. Solvents that improve the energy efficiency of thermal separation are, for instance, components with a low evaporation enthalpy or a high separation factor. In recent years methods for selecting appropriate solvents have been developed which are often based on computer-aided property estimation tools [29].

Ionic liquids have frequently been proposed to improve the efficiency of chemical processes. Ionic liquids are salts with boiling point below 100 °C and negligible vapor pressure. Therefore, they are not volatile at process conditions. There is a large field of potentially interesting applications although only a few industrial applications have been published so far. Mostly, ionic liquids are used as solvents or catalysts to improve chemical reactions. An overview is given by Meindersma et al. - 30]- One commercial application of ionic liquids is acid scavenging [10, 30].

In addition, ionic liquids can be used as additives to improve distillation processes, especially azeotropes and close boiling mixtures. Usually ionic liquids are hygroscopic with a strong affinity to water. Therefore, if water is part of the azeo-trope high separation factors can be possible leading to high potential energy savings [30] .

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