NJIT chemist speaks Aug. 25 about compound derived from pine tree

08/17/04

Chemists create chiral ionic liquids

NEWARK, Aug 17 --Using a compound derived from a pine tree, chemists at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have produced a new environmentally-friendly class of synthesized chemical compounds called chiral ionic liquids. These solvents are salts that are liquid at room temperatures, can be tailored to dissolve coal, crude oil, inks, plastics, DNA, and even rocks.

The researchers will discuss their findings at the upcoming American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting Aug 25, 2004 at 10:40 a.m. in the ballroom of the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Chiral ionic liquids are optically active molecules that have intrigued scientists for a while. They mimic nature while producing results using non-toxic, cost-efficient methodologies.

"We see them eventually providing one of the most useful tools for green chemistry," said Sanjay V. Malhotra, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry at NJIT. Malhotra is the principal investigator of a one-year study nearing completion this fall. A larger grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) has supported the research. Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) are collaborating with him on the larger grant.

The results of Malhotra's study will be published later this fall in the journals Biotechnology Progress and Tetrahedon Letters.

"We think our results could change the synthetic processes in the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industry," said Malhotra. "These changes could make the current processes environmentally friendlier, more effective and less expensive."

Malhotra and Ying Xiao, a doctoral student at NJIT helping him, developed a Diels-Alder reaction with ionic liquids. "If you can do this process using pyridinium-based room temperature ionic liquids, then you've developed a green method," said Malhotra.

Malhotra's research focuses on ionic liquids, nanotechnology, sensors and organic synthesis. He co-wrote "Applications of Ionic Liquids in Organic Synthesis," in Aldrichimica ACTA (December of 2002). Malhotra, a resident of South Orange, NJ, received his master's and doctorate in chemistry from Seton Hall University and did post-doctoral research at Purdue University before joining NJIT in 1999.

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