A methodical selection process for the development of ketones and esters as bio-based replacements for traditional hydrocarbon solvents

Abstract: A “top down” approach to the development of sustainable, greener, low-polarity solvents is presented. Methyl butyrate, ethyl isobutyrate, methyl pivalate and pinacolone were identified as potential target solvents from trends in Hansen solubility parameters and known physical properties. Solubility, flammability and physical properties were determined which showed their potential to replace traditional, hazardous, volatile, non-polar solvents such as toluene. Each new candidate then demonstrated their suitability to replace these traditional solvents in solubility tests, despite being esters and ketones, each candidate demonstrated their similarity to traditional volatile non-polar solvents in terms of their solubility properties by their ability to dissolve natural rubber, a particularly low-polarity solute. This was reinforced by their performance in a model Menschutkin reaction and a radical-initiated polymerisation for the production of pressure-sensitive adhesives, where their performance was found to be similar to that of toluene. Importantly, a preliminary toxicity test (Ames test) suggested non-mutagenicity in all candidates. Each of the four candidates can be synthesised via a catalytic route from potentially renewable resources, thus enhancing their green credentials. Read the full article in Green Chemistry.


Public report available:

A report on ‘regulatory human- and environmental safety requirements of solvents in relation to their production-volume and use’ is currently available for the public. The report is prepared by the ReSolve project partner, BioDetection Systems b.v, Amsterdam (WP leader 4). This report focusses on relevant European regulation in a global context. All formal requirements for registration, classification and labelling and risk assessment are reviewed and the steps required are summarized. The REACH Regulation and its registration and information requirements are a major driver as also recognized in the recent European standardization Committee standard CEN/TS16766 on bio-based solvents, requirements and test methods. This hazard information gathering may result in identification of substances having dangerous properties that are to be communicated via specific classification and labelling prescriptions. Click here to download the report.