Can ionic liquids transform chemistry?

February 05, 2020

Table salt is a commonplace ingredient in the kitchen, but a different kind of salt is at the forefront of chemistry innovation. Low-temperature molten salts known as ionic liquids are said to be "greener" and safer than traditional solvents. According to an article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, ionic liquids are on the cusp of transforming how fibers, fuels and other industrial materials are made.

Ionic liquids are salts that contain an organic cation, and an organic or inorganic anion. Their irregular structure gives them a lower melting point than other salts, making them easier to work with in an industrial capacity. In addition, they are less flammable than other solvents and can be implemented in a variety of applications. In particular, they have been used as solvents in chemical processes and biomass refining, catalysts in chemical synthesis and electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries. Notably, in 2018 the First Lady of Finland wore a dress made of birch fibers processed using ionic liquids. The simple, closed-loop process of making the garment had no chemical discharge, providing an alternative to fossil fuel-based fibers, such as polyester.

The biggest challenge for widespread implementation of ionic liquids is economics. Although some companies are working to reduce the cost of producing ionic liquids by scaling up production, the many potential uses for the molten salts has prevented focused investment in large-scale, profitable solutions. However, industrial giants are getting into the game: Chevron is implementing ionic liquid-based technology in a new refinery in Salt Lake City, where it will replace traditional hydrofluoric acid catalysts for simpler and safer handling. While there is still much work to be done in this area, chemists are optimistic that liquid salts will usher in a new wave of scientific innovation.
-end-
The article, "The time is now for ionic liquids," is freely available here.

For more research news, journalists and public information officers are encouraged to apply for complimentary press registration for the ACS Spring 2020 National Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS' mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people. The Society is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a specialist in scientific information solutions (including SciFinder® and STN®), its CAS division powers global research, discovery and innovation. ACS' main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Salt Articles from Brightsurf:

A salt solution toward better bioelectronics
A water-stable dopant enhances and stabilizes the performance of electron-transporting organic electrochemical transistors.

Too much salt weakens the immune system
A high-salt diet is not only bad for one's blood pressure, but also for the immune system.

New technology helps reduce salt, keep flavor
A new processing technology out of Washington State University called microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) could make it possible to reduce sodium while maintaining safety and tastiness.

The salt of the comet
Under the leadership of astrophysicist Kathrin Altwegg, Bernese researchers have found an explanation for why very little nitrogen could previously be accounted for in the nebulous covering of comets: the building block for life predominantly occurs in the form of ammonium salts, the occurrence of which could not previously be measured.

Salt helps proteins move on down the road
Rice chemists match models and experiments to see how salt modifies surface interactions in chromatography used to separate valuable drug proteins.

Mars once had salt lakes similar to Earth
Mars once had salt lakes that are similar to those on Earth and has gone through wet and dry periods, according to an international team of scientists that includes a Texas A&M University College of Geosciences researcher.

Marathoners, take your marks...and fluid and salt!
Legend states that after the Greek army defeated the invading Persian forces near the city of Marathon in 490 B.C.E., the courier Pheidippides ran to Athens to report the victory and then immediately dropped dead.

Water solutions without a grain of salt
Monash University researchers have developed technology that can deliver clean water to thousands of communities worldwide.

Solving the salt problem for seismic imaging
Automated imaging of underground salt bodies from seismic data could help streamline oil and gas exploration.

Higher salt intake can cause gastrointestinal bloating
A study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that individuals reported more gastrointestinal bloating when they ate a diet high in salt.

Read More: Salt News and Salt Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.