Solvents are omnipresent in the chemical industry, and are a major environmental and safety concern. Therefore the large interest in mechanochemistry: an energy-efficient alternative that avoids using bulk solvents and uses high-frequency milling to drive reactions. Milling is achieved by the intense impact of steel balls in a rapidly moving jar, which hinders the direct observation of underlying chemistry. Scientists have now for the first time studied a milling reaction in real time, using highly penetrating X-rays to observe the surprisingly rapid transformations as the mill mixes, grinds and transforms simple ingredients into a complex product. This study opens new opportunities in Green Chemistry and environmentally-friendly synthesis. The results are published in Nature Chemistry dated 2 December 2012.
The international team of scientists was led by Tomislav Fričić of McGill University (Canada) in collaboration with Ivan Halasz from the University of Zagreb (Croatia), scientists from the University of Cambridge (UK), Max-Planck-Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart (Germany) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble (France).
Everybody remembering their chemistry lessons will recall mixing ingredients into a solvent. This was sometimes water, but more often a solvent such as ether (flammable), chloroform (toxic) or benzene (cancerogenic). Bulk solvents used in industry pose a serious threat to human health and the environment, and their responsible management has a considerable cost. Although it is well known that mechanical action can break chemical bonds, for example in tear and wear of textile fibres, it is much less known that mechanical force can also be used to synthesize new chemical compounds and materials. In recent years, ball milling has become increasingly popular in the production of highly complex chemical structures. In such synthesis, steel balls are shaken with the r
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European Synchrotron Radiation Facility