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Ionic Liquids Research in China Brings us a Greener World
Time: 2019-05-19
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A salt in liquid state “Ionic liquids”, as one of the most typical solvents in green chemistry, has been widely applied in clean energy, new materials, biochemistry, green process engineering, etc. It provides new opportunities for green technologies in the path towards sustainable development. 

Over 700 scientists and delegates of the industrial sector from Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, UK and USA and other more than 30 countries gather in Beijing for the 8th International Congress on Ionic Liquids (COIL-8) from May 13th to17th, focusing on the development and application of ionic liquids in the future. 443 presentations were presented, including 20 plenary lectures, 18 keynotes, 47 invited lectures, 131 oral presentations and 227 posters. 

Institute of Process Engineering (IPE), Chinese Academy of Sciences has made great progress in developing ionic liquid-based technologies and their industrial application, including isobutane alkylation, CO2 conversion to carbonate, ammonia recovery. IPE Director ZHANG Suojiang said, “ionic liquid has experienced stages from its initial appearance to the fundamental research to its demonstration application in industry, and now has stepped into a new era where fundamental research and industrial application interact between each other” 

“The World's first plant for production of dimethyl carbonate/ethylene glycol (DMC/EG) from CO2 catalyzed by supported ionic liquids was built in China, with an output of 33,000 t/a. The quality of DMC reached the battery level standard (purity99.99%), and EG was superior to the national standard (purity99.93%). This technology will reduce about 0.5 ton CO2 per ton product, save energy consumption by 50%”, according to ZHU Jianmin, Director of Oxiranchem, who collaborated with the research group led by Prof. ZHANG Suojiang to commercialize the CO2 conversion technology. 

China's contributions to the field of ionic liquids have become more and more prominent, and IPE has also attracted world attention in this field. COIL, the most influential international congress in the field of ionic liquids, was firstly held in 2005 and is held every two years since then. This is the first time that COIL is held in China. 

 “IPE has the opportunity to focus on commercialization on a bigger scale. And I hope the technology could be developed through IPE, applied in the Chinese market and help direct the rest of the world, and also try to develop more sustainable technology”, according to Prof. Robin Rogers, one of the winners of Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. 

“Ionic liquid research of IPE becomes a leader in the world in this field definitely”, said Prof. Douglas MacFarlane, member of Australian Academy of Sciences and Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, “IPE is tackling a lot of important sustainability issues that are very important in China and the world.” 

Ionic liquid has started to be applied in high-end fields, including energy storage, nuclear fuel reprocessing, pharmaceutical, biomaterials, etc. The emerging global ionic liquids (ILs) market size is anticipated to reach over USD 40 Million for the forecasted year 2016 to 2024 with a CAGR around 9.35 %, according to Hexa Research. Innovative techniques based on ionic liquids will make contributions to the green and sustainable development for the mankind. 

Fig 1 Opening ceremony of COIL-8 (Photo by IPE) 

Fig 2 IPE Director ZHANG Suojiang made the opening address (Photo by IPE) 

Fig 3 Panel discussion attended by Sheng Dai, Margarida Costa Gomes, Buxing Han, Boyan Iliev, Toshiyuki Itoh, Douglas MacFarlane, Robin D. Rogers, Blake A. Simmons, Tom Welton (Photo by IPE) 

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