Philip Jessop, Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry, has created a solvent that – when combined with carbon dioxide – extracts oil from soybeans. Industries currently make cooking oils using hexane, a cheap, flammable solvent that is a neurotoxin and creates smog. The process also involves distillation, which uses large amounts of energy.
"Carbon dioxide is famous for global warming – it's everybody's favourite gas to hate these days," says Professor Jessop, who specializes in green chemistry. "My research group is trying to figure out if we can use it for something useful. I figure we may not be able to recycle all the carbon dioxide out there but we can recycle a bit of it and make it contribute to society in a positive way."
Jessop's new method of making oil involves a "switchable" solvent. This solvent is hydrophobic, meaning it mixes with oils and doesn't like water. But when carbon dioxide is added, the solvent becomes hydrophilic, meaning it mixes with water and doesn't like to be in oil. So when carbonated water – carbon dioxide and water – is added to a mixture of the solvent and soybeans, the oil is extracted out of the soybeans and collected. When the carbon dioxide is removed, the solvent switches back to its hydrophobic state.
"The water and the solvent can be used again so everything is recycled. The end result is you have extracted soybean oil and there is no energy-consuming distillation required," says Professor Jessop, who who did research in the 1990s under the supervision of Nobel Chemistry Prize winner Ryoji Noyori.
While this process has only been done in labs, Professor Jessop says he has already heard from cooking oil companies and GreenCentre Canada who are interested in his research. But the solvent is still years away before it can ever be used in large-scale oil manufacturing.
Professor Jessop is trying to get rid of the use of volatile chemicals such as hexane by giving industries an option to use a manufacturing process that is both economically and environmentally friendly.
"The advantage of hexane is that it's cheap. When you do green chemistry, you have to worry about cost. You can't just say 'Look at this, industry, it's greener!' If it costs 10 times as much, no one is going to use it," Professor Jessop says. "So next we have to do the economic calculations to see how much it is going to cost. If manufacturing with this environmentally friendly solvent is really expensive compared to the hexane, we have to figure out how we can we make it cheaper."
The results of Jessop's research have been published in the journal Green Chemistry.
Michael Onesi | EurekAlert!
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences