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Green Industrial Applications of Ionic Liquids. Vol. 92. NATO Science Series. Edited by Robin D. Rogers Kenneth R

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Green Industrial Applications of
Ionic Liquids
Vol. 92. NATO Science Series. Edited
by Robin D. Rogers,
Kenneth R. Seddon
and Sergei Volkov.
Kluwer Academic
Publishers, Dordrecht 2002.
553 pp., hardcover
E 207.00.—ISBN
1-402-01136-9
Published by Kluwer Academic as a
volume in its Mathematics, Physics and
Chemistry series, this Volume 92 of the
NATO Science Series arises from a
NATO workshop on “Green Industrial
Applications of Ionic Liquids” held in
April 2000 in Heraklion, Crete. The
field of non-aqueous ionic liquids,
NAILs (which should correctly have
appeared in the title, since the much
broader area of aqueous ionic liquids
was expressly excluded), is a fastmoving field of research, and the twoyear delay before publication means
that some of the topicality has been lost.
In this volume the three editors, who
are well-recognized experts in the
NAILs field, present contributions
given at the above symposium, resulting
in a very heterogeneous collection
which ranges from “Potential for Use
of Ionic Liquids in Czech Industry”,
through “Radical-Ion Melts of Al, Ga
and Sulfur Halides for Novel Power
Sources”, to “East-West Collaboration
within the NATO Science Programme”.
As the book's title indicates, the contents are supposedly arranged according
to the guiding principle of industrial
applications. Unfortunately, that is very
274
misleading for the intended readership,
since, apart from a very small number of
articles (actually only two: OlivierBourbigou's report on the NAILsbased Difasol processes developed by
IFP, and that of Wilkes on the applications of NAILs in batteries), all the rest
are concerned with proposals rather
than with developments that have essentially reached completion. Of course,
that is expressed in somewhat different
words: there are many references to
“potential applications”, “alternatives
to other solvents”, and “proposed processes”, as well as to “concepts” and
“postulated models”. That is very different from my understanding of the words
“industrial applications” and of the
kinds of developments that the term
leads one to expect, but it might be that
this expression is as elastic as the term
“scaling-up” in Anglo–Saxon speech.
The plans and conjectures that make
up most of the articles fall into two
categories: those that are based on
reality, and others that are highly speculative or esoteric. For example, the
article “Non-invasive Spectroscopic Online Methods to Monitor Industrial
Processes” has a degree of real relevance to chemical industry, and the
same applies to the claim therein that
the use of pressed KBr disks for infrared spectroscopy is a typical application
of bromides to large-scale industrial
processes. By contrast, an article by
Gontcharenko and co-authors describes
a suggested method for the modeling of
NAILs-based processes that, far from
being fully developed, have not yet even
reached the stage of proposals. Most of
the articles lie in a broad region between
these extremes, with descriptions of
measurements and observations in the
still relatively new area of NAILs, and
useful information about the potential
applications of the new class of materials to chemical reactions. A typical
example is Wasserscheid's article on
the potential for applying ionic liquids
in industry: of the total length of 19
pages one's attention focuses on a halfpage paragraph entitled “Present and
Future Areas of Industrial Application
for Ionic Liquids”, which, contrary to
the title, does not actually name any
“present … areas of industrial application”. However, in the book as a whole,
the choice of topics and the information
3 2004 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
www.angewandte.org
that is presented probably correctly
reflects the status of this field of
research at the time of the workshop.
The areas for which potential applications are discussed include such widely
different ones as petrochemicals, oilshale processing, nuclear fuels, pharmaceuticals, the processing of biomasses,
and photochemistry.
With regard to the potential of
NAILs as alternative solvents for twophase catalysis, which would be an
important argument for using them for
achieving “green catalysis”, the volume
offers no new information, and is
actually disappointing. The hopes for
the role of NAILs as a route to green
chemistry and green catalysis are
emphasized in the book, and perhaps
somewhat exaggerated—a case of whistling in the dark. Non-aqueous ionic
liquids containing anions such as [PF6] ,
[SbF6] , or [CF3SO3] are, of course,
certainly not environmentally friendly,
nor are they very suitable for long-term
recycling and “sustainable” chemistry.
Some critical comments that have
appeared in the green chemistry literature are not without foundation: for
example, “You think your process is
green, how do you know?” (Green
Chem. 2001, 3(1), 1), or “Ionic liquids
are not always green!” (Green Chem.
2003, 5(4), 361).
This field has increased in importance since the workshop reported here,
but as the book presents the subject
uncritically, ignores the difficulties, and
is no longer up-to-date, it is not greatly
recommended.
Boy Cornils
Hofheim/Taunus (Germany)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200385075
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 274 – 276
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