Millions of Green Solvents - Ionic Liquids

Salt is delicious. It is also a crystal made up from the positive Na (sodium) atom and the negative Cl (chloride) atom. However, NaCl is not the only type of salt. A salt is generally any positive and negative chemical which combine to form a new material. It turns out there are a mind boggling number of ‘salts’ that are liquid at room temperature; all of them are dubbed ionic liquids. These ionic liquids may prove to be an environmental boon to manufacturing by replacing current toxic solvents.Scientists at NIST and IUPAC have just begun to characterize these ionic liquids. It is a difficult job, as the salts are very sensitive to small amounts of water. Also the sheer number of possible salts that exist requires a dedicated task force of database engineers to keep things straight.

But all of this effort may pay off in big environmental dividends. Current solvents evaporate, catch fire, and have been known to cause cancer. But ionic liquids do not evaporate, are not flammable, and so far are not indicated in any cancers. All of this is great news for those products manufactured with solvents, which pretty much includes everything un-Treehugger. By coming up with a green solution, chemical based production may become greener then green: it will be ionic. ::NIST ::TRC ::IUPAC [by T McGee]