School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Research

Epoxidation without oxidant waste stream

Epoxidation without Oxidant Waste Stream

Advancements in non-thermal plasmas operating at atmospheric pressure have made possible processing of organic liquids that can lead to novel and more environmentally-friendly synthesis processes.

Our Aim

Advancements in non-thermal plasmas operating at atmospheric pressure have made possible the novel processing of liquids that were not conceivable in conventional vacuum systems due to vapor pressure limitations. In addition to their rapidly growing use in medicine, agriculture, catalysis, nanoparticle synthesis and water treatment, the interaction of plasmas with organic liquids opens up the use of gas plasma for novel chemical synthesis processes.

With conventional manufacturing of chemical compounds typically generating between 1 to 100 times more waste than desired products, novel synthesis processes that eliminate waste streams are of particular interest. In this project we focus on the synthesis epoxides, key building blocks in the chemical industry that are used as intermediates in the preparation of many products (drugs, paints, adhesives, sealants, plastics, etc).  

Our Research

In this project we combine a series of plasma diagnostics (e.g. optical spectroscopy) and analytical tools (e.g. gas chromatography mass spectrometry) to explore the use of reactive oxygen species generated in an oxygen-containing atmospheric-pressure plasma to drive the epoxidation of alkenes. The plasma plays the critical role of increasing the reactivity of the otherwise inert oxygen molecules, creating an oxidative environment that leads to the epoxidation of alkenes in an oxidant waste-stream free process. 

Our Outcomes

The project demonstrates the feasibility of epoxidizing alkenes in solution by exposing them to low temperature plasma in a process that eliminates the oxidant waste-stream.

Dr Felipe Iza - Reader in Bioelectrics and Healthcare and Deputy Associate Dean (Research)

“Despite the limited success of early studies of plasma-driven organic synthesis in low-pressure plasma systems in the 70’s, direct treatment of liquids at atmospheric pressure provides a new paradigm for the interaction of plasma species with organic molecules. This can be exploited in novel synthesis processes which have the potential of reducing or even eliminating the detrimental environmental impact of conventional methods.”

Dr Felipe Iza - Reader in Bioelectrics and Healthcare and Deputy Associate Dean (Research)

Athena Swan Bronze award

Contact us

The Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
Loughborough University
Loughborough
Leicestershire
LE11 3TU