Ionic Liquids as Alternative Solvents for Industrial Alkylation Chemistry

EPA Contract Number: 68D99042
Title: Ionic Liquids as Alternative Solvents for Industrial Alkylation Chemistry
Investigators: Carter, Michael T.
Small Business: Eltron Research & Development Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through March 1, 2000
Project Amount: $69,997
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


This Phase I project will address feasibility of an ambient temperature chloroaluminate ionic liquid as a catalytic medium for economically important benzene alkylation reactions. Benzene alkylation represents an extremely important synthetic chemistry, with products such as styrene and linear alkylbenzene sulfonates being used as feedstocks for polymers and detergents. Eltron Research will examine the ability of the ionic liquid to catalyze formation of ethyl benzene, cumeme, and 1-dodecylbenzene via a single batch, homogeneous process. Unique properties of the ionic liquid will facilitate product harvesting, reduce catalyst consumption, and improve product purity, all of which will reduce production costs for these important materials. The environmental impact of production will be decreased by the ionic liquid; this will conserve the catalyst and reduce the need for solvents.

The proposed research will demonstrate effective use of ambient temperature ionic liquids as reaction media for important alkylations. It is anticipated that high native acidic catalyst concentration and high reactant solubility will drive high-yield reactions and make more efficient use of reaction volume while eliminating volatile organic contaminants. The proposed process will find commercial application in the synthesis of alkylated benzenes. These materials are used as feedstocks in the preparation of styrene and phenol for polymers and in the production of anionic, biodegradable surfactants for detergents.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, pollution prevention, engineering, chemistry, EPA., Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Economics and Business, cleaner production, clean technology, catalysts, biodegradeable surfactants, alkylation reaction, polymers, chemical processing, ionic liquids, pollution prevention, alternative chemical synthesis

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • SBIR Phase II:

    Ionic Liquids as Alternative Solvents for Industrial Alkylation Chemistry  | Final Report