Organic molecules often show a dramatic increase in solubility with temperature, partly because of the polarity changes described above, and also because the solubility of sparingly soluble materials tends to increase with temperature as they have a high enthalpy of solution. Thus materials generally considered “insoluble” can become soluble in superheated water. E.g., the solubility of PAHs is increased by 5 orders of magnitude from 25 °C to 225 °C and naphthalene, for example, forms a 10% wt solution in water at 270 °C, and the solubility of the pesticide chloranthonil with temperature is shown in the table below.
|T (°C)||Mole Fraction|
|50||5.41 x 10−8|
|100||1.8 x 10−6|
|150||6.43 x 10−5|
|200||1.58 x 10−3|
Thus superheated water can be used to process many organic compounds with significant environmental benefits compared to the use of conventional organic solvents.
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