Tailored Solvents for Pollution Source Reduction in Pharmaceutical and Fine Chemical Processing

EPA Grant Number: R826121
Title: Tailored Solvents for Pollution Source Reduction in Pharmaceutical and Fine Chemical Processing
Investigators: Hatton, T. Alan
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Project Period: November 1, 1997 through October 31, 2000
Project Amount: $180,000
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


We propose to develop a new class of solvents that have solvation properties similar to those of solvents used conventionally in pharmaceutical and fine chemical processing but for which the potential for loss by environmentally-unfavorable air emissions or in aqueous discharge streams is minimized. A complete characterization of the new solvents is to be undertaken, and their role in minimizing the potential for pollution, and in reducing the number of solvent exchanges and unit operations required for specific products will be evaluated. The economic and environmental impact assessment will include all aspects of solvent usage, including its synthesis and any wastes that may be generated thereby. This approach is different from others for waste minimization (which include development of new synthetic routes to products, use of mixtures of traditional solvents to attain desired solvation effects, and process modification and optimization), in that we aim to alter the physical properties of the solvents to minimize their potential to enter the environment while still maintaining their desirable chemical attributes.

The new solvents are obtained by suitable derivatization of the solvent tetrahydrofuran (THF) to be replaced to render it significantly less volatile or water soluble and thus less inclined to enter the environment; the active solvent moiety will also be 'immobilized' by attachment to flexible polymers, which are then dissolved in a more benign continuous phase. These new solvents will be tested as reaction media for a broad range of model reaction systems, including a series of reactions that are important in the production of the HIV protease inhibitor Crixivan . Detailed spectroscopic characterization as well as bulk thermodynamic properties will be used to rationalize the kinetics results in terms of steric and electronic effects introduced by the solvent modification. Process systems modeling will be carried out to quantify the economic and environmental impact of processes using these solvents; these results will be compared with those for conventional systems.

Expected Results: A new range of solvents will be developed and characterized in terms of their solvation, thermodynamic and transport properties, and tested for their efficacy as reaction media using a range of different model reactions. Guidelines will be established for product recovery and solvent regeneration, and process systems models will be developed for optimization of reaction/separation sequences in pharmaceutical and fine chemical syntheses. A life cycle analysis of these new solvents from synthesis through to use in processing, including solvent regeneration, will be made to delineate their useful application parameters.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

pollution prevention, waste minimization, innovative technology, environmentally conscious manufacturing, green chemistry, solvents, engineering., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Environmental Chemistry, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Economics and Business, cleaner production, waste minimization, waste reduction, environmentally conscious manufacturing, tailored solvents, environmentally benign water cycles, environmentally benign solvents, air pollution control, emission controls, cost benefit, green process systems, SIC = pharmaceutical , chemical processing, aqueous discharge streams, pollution prevention, source reduction, alternative chemical synthesis, environmentally-friendly chemical synthesis

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final Report