The ability to perform reactions under supercritical conditions presents a broad vista of new opportunities to process-engineers and chemists alike. The exceptionally high diffusion coefficients of supercritical media combined with properties as solvents make them ideal candidates as alternative solvents.
The replacement of toxic solvents with more environmentally-benign supercritical CO2 minimizes VOC emissions, reduces CAPEX costs for costly purification and solvent removal unit operations as well as OPEX costs for their continuous operation. Costly separation steps are completely eliminated as the sc CO2- is simply flashed off, and use of environmentally harmful solvents is avoided.
Carrying out petrochemical reactions under supercritical conditions has the potential to minimize catalyst deactivation for a variety of challenging systems. base-catalysed aldol-condensations on heterogeneous catalysts, which typically rapidly coke, are now possible. High-temperature aromatic conversions of acidic heterogeneous catalysts can be performed with extended lifetimes due to the coke-purging and dissolution properties of supercritical hydrocarbons under these conditions.