• Use of solvents and environmental friendly materials for applications in Green Chemistry
  • Samorì, Chiara <1982>


  • CHIM/06 Chimica organica


  • The present Thesis studies three alternative solvent groups as sustainable replacement of traditional organic solvents. Some aspects of fluorinated solvents, supercritical fluids and ionic liquids, have been analysed with a critical approach and their effective “greenness” has been evaluated from the points of view of the synthesis, the properties and the applications. In particular, the attention has been put on the environmental and human health issues, evaluating the eco-toxicity, the toxicity and the persistence, to underline that applicability and sustainability are subjects with equal importance. The “green” features of fluorous solvents and supercritical fluids are almost well-established; in particular supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) is probably the “greenest” solvent among the alternative solvent systems developed in the last years, enabling to combine numerous advantages both from the point of view of industrial/technological applications and eco-compatibility. In the Thesis the analysis of these two classes of alternative solvents has been mainly focused on their applicability, rather than the evaluation of their environmental impact. Specifically they have been evaluated as alternative media for non-aqueous biocatalysis. For this purpose, the hydrophobic ion pairing (HIP), which allows solubilising enzymes in apolar solvents by an ion pairing between the protein and a surfactant, has been investigated as effective enzymatic derivatisation technique to improve the catalytic activity under homogeneous conditions in non conventional media. The results showed that the complex enzyme-surfactant was much more active both in fluorous solvents and in supercritical carbon dioxide than the native form of the enzyme. Ionic liquids, especially imidazolium salts, have been proposed some years ago as “fully green” alternative solvents; however this epithet does not take into account several “brown” aspects such as their synthesis from petro-chemical starting materials, their considerable eco-toxicity, toxicity and resistance to biodegradation, and the difficulty of clearly outline applications in which ionic liquids are really more advantageous than traditional solvents. For all of these reasons in this Thesis a critical analysis of ionic liquids has been focused on three main topics: i) alternative synthesis by introducing structural moieties which could reduce the toxicity of the most known liquid salts, and by using starting materials from renewable resources; ii) on the evaluation of their environmental impact through eco-toxicological tests (Daphnia magna and Vibrio fischeri acute toxicity tests, and algal growth inhibition), toxicity tests (MTT test, AChE inhibition and LDH release tests) and fate and rate of aerobic biodegradation in soil and water; iii) and on the demonstration of their effectiveness as reaction media in organo-catalysis and as extractive solvents in the recovery of vegetable oil from terrestrial and aquatic biomass. The results about eco-toxicity tests with Daphnia magna, Vibrio fischeri and algae, and toxicity assay using cultured cell lines, clearly indicate that the difference in toxicity between alkyl and oxygenated cations relies in differences of polarity, according to the general trend of decreasing toxicity by decreasing the lipophilicity. Independently by the biological approach in fact, all the results are in agreement, showing a lower toxicity for compounds with oxygenated lateral chains than for those having purely alkyl lateral chains. These findings indicate that an appropriate choice of cation and anion structures is important not only to design the IL with improved and suitable chemico-physical properties but also to obtain safer and eco-friendly ILs. Moreover there is a clear indication that the composition of the abiotic environment has to be taken into account when the toxicity of ILs in various biological test systems is analysed, because, for example, the data reported in the Thesis indicate a significant influence of salinity variations on algal toxicity. Aerobic biodegradation of four imidazolium ionic liquids, two alkylated and two oxygenated, in soil was evaluated for the first time. Alkyl ionic liquids were shown to be biodegradable over the 6 months test period, and in contrast no significant mineralisation was observed with oxygenated derivatives. A different result was observed in the aerobic biodegradation of alkylated and oxygenated pyridinium ionic liquids in water because all the ionic liquids were almost completely degraded after 10 days, independently by the number of oxygen in the lateral chain of the cation. The synthesis of new ionic liquids by using renewable feedstock as starting materials, has been developed through the synthesis of furan-based ion pairs from furfural. The new ammonium salts were synthesised in very good yields, good purity of the products and wide versatility, combining low melting points with high decomposition temperatures and reduced viscosities. Regarding the possible applications as surfactants and biocides, furan-based salts could be a valuable alternative to benzyltributylammonium salts and benzalkonium chloride that are produced from non-renewable resources. A new procedure for the allylation of ketones and aldehydes with tetraallyltin in ionic liquids was developed. The reaction afforded high yields both in sulfonate-containing ILs and in ILs without sulfonate upon addition of a small amount of sulfonic acid. The checked reaction resulted in peculiar chemoselectivity favouring aliphatic substrates towards aromatic ketones and good stereoselectivity in the allylation of levoglucosenone. Finally ILs-based systems could be easily and successfully recycled, making the described procedure environmentally benign. The potential role of switchable polarity solvents as a green technology for the extraction of vegetable oil from terrestrial and aquatic biomass has been investigated. The extraction efficiency of terrestrial biomass rich in triacylglycerols, as soy bean flakes and sunflower seeds, was comparable to those of traditional organic solvents, being the yield of vegetable oils recovery very similar. Switchable polarity solvents as been also exploited for the first time in the extraction of hydrocarbons from the microalga Botryococcus braunii, demonstrating the efficiency of the process for the extraction of both dried microalgal biomass and directly of the aqueous growth medium. The switchable polarity solvents exhibited better extraction efficiency than conventional solvents, both with dried and liquid samples. This is an important issue considering that the harvest and the dewatering of algal biomass have a large impact on overall costs and energy balance.


  • 2010-05-11


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Samorì, Chiara (2010) Use of solvents and environmental friendly materials for applications in Green Chemistry, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze ambientali: tutela e gestione delle risorse naturali , 22 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/2840.