Greener chemical processes for a sustainable industry
The EU-funded ENACT project has used a combination of computer simulation and experimental validation to develop more efficient and sustainable chemical processes for the energy and pharmaceutical sectors - good for the environment, health, and the EU's competitiveness.
© pogonici #80588260, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Research in ENACT focused on six areas involving chemical processes ionic liquids, porous liquids, solar cells, heat storage, biomimetic membranes, and mechano-chemical reactions. The advances could lead to improved energy efficiency and less air pollution, impacting the fight against global warming.
For example, in the field of porous liquids, the research advances made by the project could reduce the environmental impact of chemical processes. The project investigated their enormous potential to dissolve gases in a much higher proportion than regular solvents. The work was published in Nature magazine and attracted a lot of attention form the media, the project team reported.
ENACT also made advances in understanding complex mechano-chemical reactions at the atomic level, in particular the co-crystallisation of pharmaceutical drugs. This research opens up the possibility for the pharmaceutical industry to produce drugs via extrusion processes. It could also lead to reducing or eliminating the use of organic solvents in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, lowering the industrys environmental impact.
In the field of biomimetic membranes, the project reported a better understanding of the conditions under which it is possible to create pores and introduce desired molecules into cells. This advance could help improve drug-delivery systems for better health care.
The project also reported advances in developing ultra-thin membranes that separate gases efficiently, opening a path to lower energy consumption in the petrochemical industry.
Furthermore, the researchers made progress in understanding the effect of nanoparticles in heat-storage systems and the recharging efficiency of dye-sensitised solar cells in ionic liquid electrolytes. This advance could lead to more efficient energy-storage systems and more efficient solar-cell devices.
Training experienced and early-stage researchers was another achievement for the project, which received funding from the EUs Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions programme and ended in December 2018.