The possibility of using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) as a cheap and effective reaction medium may soon become a reality thanks to a team of UK scientists.

The potential for scCO2 as a reaction solvent is high but there are currently very few substances known to be soluble in it. scCO2-soluble polymers are particularly scarce and scientists find it hard to predict which structures might be soluble in supercritical fluids.

Andrew Cooper and colleagues from the University of Liverpool have carried out rapid parallel solubility measurements for polymer libraries using scCO2.

The researchers used high-throughput methods to find more scCO2-soluble polymers. This ’brute force’ experimental method allows chemists to determine possible soluble polymer libraries using specially designed apparatus where 10 samples can be tested simultaneously, all under identical conditions.

This new method will have applications not only for polymers but also for other supercritical fluid-soluble ligands, catalysts, biomolecules, fragrances, dyes and pharmaceuticals.

Sophia Anderton