Solvents slashed

Nobel chemist Barry Sharpless is about to revolutionize chemistry, or least that's what it seems. He and his team have discovered that they can carry out many organic reactions in pure water, even though the hydrophobic reagents do not actually dissolve in the polar solvent. There is a proviso - the water has to be very pure. But, they insist that is less of an obstacle to the "greening" of chemistry than finding ways to recycle, and ultimately dispose of, contaminated volatile organic solvents. The research suggests that even less noxious solvents such as supercritical fluids (SCFs) and room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) may not be necessary to carry out reactions efficiently but with a lower environmental cost.