TAU scientists find 'green' answer to harmful solvents

TA Univ. researchers discover way to use water to replace harmful organic solvent ingrediants in paint and medicines.

Tel Aviv University 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv University 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv University researchers have discovered a way to use water to replace harmful organic solvent ingrediants in paint and medicines. Professor Arkadi Vigalok, together with his doctoral student Neli Shapiro, will reveal their breakthrough at a TAU symposium on Tuesday entitled "Advanced technological solutions to the growing environmental crisis," which will be held in English. Vigalok's research group from the School of Chemistry at the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences at Tel Aviv University has been attempting to incorporate greener thinking in the production of chemical materials. In green chemistry, the quantity of dangerous pollutants emitted during the reactions is reduced as much as possible. The researchers explained in a statement ahead of the symposium that organic solvents used in paints, as well as in other domestic products, produce substantial pollutants. Today, anywhere from 10 to 20 chemical stages are typically required to make a single medicine, and in each step organic solvents are used. In the pharmaceutical industry, about 100 kilograms of materials can sometimes be used in order to produce a single kilogram of medicine. The university researchers discovered a new technology that could help replace the organic solvents by using water. The researchers found that mixing organic compounds, called aldehydes, together with water, resulted in their oxidation without the use of organic solvents. The researchers used this technology to make carboxylic acids which are used in several industries, among them the polymers and lubricants industries. The new technology was reported recently in the prestigious German magazine Angewandte Chemie, International Edition. Senior representatives from the industry, government and financial sectors will participate in the symposium, which is being organized by the Porter School of Environmental Studies and Ramot at Tel Aviv University Ltd. Among the participants is Chen Altshuler from Shaham Altshuler investments; Booky Oren, President and CEO of the Arison Water Initiatives; and Jack Levi, senior partner at Israel Cleantech Ventures, who will chair three sessions of the symposium. The conference will also address renewable energy research, efficient agriculture, pollution detection and removal and environmental rehabilitation.