French researchers lead team to understand extractants phenomenon

March 12, 2020 |

In France, teams at the Institute of Separative Chemistry in Marcoule (CEA/CNRS/ENSCM/Université de Montpellier) and their foreign partners have successfully identified and explained the mysterious synergy that operates between extractants, a phenomenon that has been known to exist since the 1960s but which has never been explained until now. The researchers call this an ienaics approach. It provides new insight into the physical and chemical interactions that occur beyond immediate neighbors in a solution. To this end, experiments and measurements that are ten times more precise than any published to date were carried out using the instrumented bench assembled at Marcoule and deployed at the SCARCE laboratory in Singapore to rigorously quantify, for the first time, the efficiency of the extractant molecules and the synergy between them.

At the same time, the CEA, in partnership with CNRS and the Universities of Regensburg and Montpellier, patented this new method, covering the combination of conventional extractants mixed with non-extractant molecules in the hydrotrope class, a family of chemicals that have not, to date, been used in recycling, but which present synergistic behavior that had not been identified until now.

Within the next ten years or so, advances in the technology are expected to result in more efficient and ecologically acceptable extraction processes at biofuel refineries and in cheaper purification methods for molecules for use in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Category: Research

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