Mechanochemistry and solid-state chemistry for green chemical synthesis
Coventional chemical processes are based on solution chemistry. As a result, laboratory- and industrial-scale chemical reactions are inherently wasteful of solvent (which is an obvious neccessity for solution-based reactions) and of energy (which becomes dissipated in the large volume of solvent).
Our research is inspired by the idea that solid-state reactions will provide cleaner, faster and more diverse chemical reactions. This is elaborated in a recent highlight: "New opportunities for materials synthesis using mechanochemistry" J. Mat. Chem. 2010, 20, 7599-7605.
Whereas some solid materials will readily undergo solid-state reactions, most of them do not. For this purpose we are developing mechanochemical approaches, in which grinding together of reactants with catalytic additives results in the self-assembly of advanced materials, such as porous metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), directly from the simplest and cheapest possible precursors. These advanced mechanochemical methodologies include:
1) liquid-assisted grinding (LAG) and
These methodologies allow conducting chemical reactions independent on the solubility of the reactant materials and lead to overall 1000- or 10000-fold reductions in the use of solvent and energy compared to conventional processes.
Besides enabling cleaner and faster reactions, the simple catalytic salts used in ILAG also provide an exciting opportunity to direct the topology (pore shape and size) of porous MOFs and thus discover potential future catalysts, ion exchangers, conductors and gas storage materials for fuel gases, such as methane or hydrogen, or for waste gases, such as carbon dioxide.
In addition to discovering new approaches to mechanochemistry, and studying the underlying mechanisms of solid-state reactivity ("mechanisms of mechanochemistry"), the research directions which are pursued in our group include:
(1) Energy- and solvent-free reactions in which presumably "inert" materials are activated so as to undergo chemical reactions under mildest possible conditions.
For more information, check out our latest papers on
CHEM-110 General Chemistry 1
CHEM-334 Advanced Materials
CHEM-392 Integrated Inorganic/Organic Laboratory