News Room

A Switch to Green

January 6, 2020

NORAM’s Green Chemistry Division has become the exclusive licensee of a novel solvent technology originating in Canada. The Switchable Hydrophilicity Solvent (SHS) Technology Platform developed by Professor Philip Jessop’s group at Queen’s University enables the use of low-volatility solvents for reducing losses, environmental impact, toxicity and flammability.

Conventional industrial solvents are separated via evaporation or stripping and thus require a high volatility. Switchable solvents, however, can be separated by a simple pH change – often with CO2 – so they can be regenerated easily. They also allow the recovery of solvents at lower temperatures, often a key to processing products sensitive to heat.

Switchable solvents have many other promising applications, including:

  • Membrane cleaning
  • Selective dissolution of polystyrene from mixed plastic wastes, and
  • Selective recovery of oil from waste oil bottles, machine cuttings, and drilling fluids.
  • Enabling of new polymer suspensions in water (e.g. latex) – with polymers that normally cannot be formed in this way and regenerating polymers that have coagulated (e.g. natural rubber).

Most recently, NORAM and GreenCentre Canada (GCC) have been working on a proprietary application to replace a traditional solvent being phased out in Europe and have demonstrated SHS effectiveness to meet these new regulatory guidelines.

Further development in other SHS applications is currently being planned in conjunction with university collaborators and BC Research Inc. Our Green Chemistry team would like to hear from users interested in replacing a current solvent, or upgrading to a greener process.

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