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Ionic liquid droplet micro-reactor for catalysis reactions not at equilibrium

Zhang, Ming; Ettelaie, Rammile; Yan, Tao; Zhang, Suojiang; Cheng, Fangqin; Binks, Bernard P.; Yang, Hengquan


Ming Zhang

Rammile Ettelaie

Tao Yan

Suojiang Zhang

Fangqin Cheng

Hengquan Yang


We develop a novel strategy to more effectively and controllably process continuous enzymatic or homogeneous catalysis reactions based on non-aqueous Pickering emulsions. A key element of this strategy is “bottom-up” construction of a macroscale continuous flow reaction system through packing catalyst-containing micron-sized ionic liquid (IL) droplets in oil in a column reactor. Due to the continuous influx of reactants into the droplets and the continuous release of products from the droplets, catalysis reactions in such a system can take place without limitations arising from establishment of the reaction equilibrium and catalyst separation, inherent in conventional batch reactions. As proof of the concept, enzymatic enantioselective trans-esterification and CuI-catalyzed cycloaddition reactions using this IL droplet-based flow system both exhibit eight to twenty-fold enhancement in catalysis efficiency compared to their batch counterparts, and a durability of at least 4000 h for the enantioselective trans-esterification of 1-phenylethyl alcohol, otherwise unattainable in their batch counterparts. We further establish a theoretical model for such a catalysis system working under non-equilibrium conditions, which not only supports the experimental results but also helps to predict reaction progress at a microscale level. Being operationally simple, efficient and adaptive, this strategy provides an unprecedented platform for practical applications of enzymes and homogeneous catalysts even at a controllable level.


Zhang, M., Ettelaie, R., Yan, T., Zhang, S., Cheng, F., Binks, B. P., & Yang, H. (2017). Ionic liquid droplet micro-reactor for catalysis reactions not at equilibrium. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 139(48), 17387-17396.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 3, 2017
Publication Date Dec 6, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2017
Publicly Available Date Nov 5, 2018
Journal Journal of the American Chemical Society
Print ISSN 0002-7863
Electronic ISSN 1520-5126
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 139
Issue 48
Pages 17387-17396
Keywords Catalysis reactions
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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Copyright Statement
©2018 University of Hull

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