New surfactants are being developed to expand the use of carbon dioxide as a less hazardous solvent, replacing volatile and halogenated organic solvents. The module begins by comparing the properties, hazards, and atmospheric chemistry of available solvents, and highlighting advantages and some of the challenges associated with using carbon dioxide as a greener solvent. After focusing on the solubility of substances in carbon dioxide, the module describes the design of a styrene - fluoroacrylate co-polymer surfactant and its application to the dry cleaning industry. The module is recommended for a general chemistry course during discussions of phase diagrams, supercritical fluids and molecular polarity and includes notes to instructors along with a PowerPoint presentation.
Summary prepared May 2005 by Julie A. Haack, Department of Chemistry at the University of Oregon.