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Solvent Engineering at TWI

Choosing the right solvent is critical to the economic, technical and environmental performance of any solution-phase process. Yet, solvent selection has traditionally received only a fraction of the attention and sophistication devoted to optimizing other process components and the enormous range of available solvents has been massively underexploited.

TWI provides a rapid but comprehensive solvent design, selection and formulation service, which is used to tailor an optimal solvent around your requirements. This unique service employs ground-breaking software to maximize the value, performance, efficiency, safety and environmental benefits of solution-phase processes, including:

  • Replacement of hazardous solvents with "green" alternatives
  • Minimization of footprint, solvent losses, energy consumption and waste generation
  • Chemical reaction media
  • Extraction of natural products, flavours, fragrances and pharmaceuticals
  • Cleaning and decontaminating agents
  • Paints and coatings
  • Lubricants
  • Thermal storage and transfer media
  • Electrolytes
  • Solvent welding and adhesives
  • Preservation and storage
  • Gas scrubbing and post-combustion CO2 capture
  • Polymer dissolution and processing
  • Separations and chromatography
  • Waste recycling
  • Biomass processing, biofuels and energy from waste
  • Industrial and domestic product formulation
  • Biomedical applications
TWI can also offer specialist expertise and infrastructure in assessing long-term performance of solvents in your application, life cycle assessment, materials compatibility, chemical engineering, reactor design and fabrication.

Software Platform

TWI utilises a proprietary software platform employing high throughput screening of over 50,000 solvents against up to 40 customer-specified criteria. It performs two key functions:

1. Screening the entire marketplace of solvents against user-specified criteria
2. Designing solvents at the molecular level to meet user-specified criteria

To achieve this, the software incorporates multiple functionality, including:
  • Molecular modelling
  • Solubility parameter/thermodynamic prediction
  • Physical, chemical, biological and ecological property database
  • Pricing, regulatory and intellectual property database
Screening large numbers of solvents manually is time-consuming and prohibitively expensive, whilst existing solvent selection software is highly limited in both scope and functionality, ignoring many new classes of solvent and failing to address user-specific requirements. We can select solvents on the basis of any combination of key criteria, making the optimization process bespoke to your requirements.

Criteria we can address include:
  • Solubility parameters, polarity, solubility and miscibility
  • Solution-phase thermodynamics
  • Phase change temperatures, volatility and vapour pressure
  • Thermal, chemical and electrical stability
  • Flammability, flash point and AIT
  • Density, viscosity, surface tension and expansivity
  • Dielectric constant and conductivity
  • Materials compatibility
  • Toxicity, OEL, containment, transport and occupational safety
  • Biodegradability, sustainability and VOC contribution
  • Food compatibility, odour and colour
  • Spot prices, availability, IP licensing and regulatory status
The most exclusive requirement is screened first. The range of candidates is subsequently funnelled down to a shortlist of solvents for testing in our dedicated state-of-the-art solvent optimization unit (SOU).

Green solvents

TWI is proud of our long-standing commitment to the protection of our environment by assisting our customers to develop increasingly safe, ecologically efficient and sustainable working practices. Stringent environmental protection legislation is leading to the gradual phase-out of many well known but hazardous VOC solvents. This has created a significant market opportunity for the replacement of these materials by "greener" alternatives, including:

  • Solvent-free systems
  • Ionic liquids
  • Supercritical fluids
  • Gas-expanded liquids
  • Water-based formulations
  • Bio-derived solvents
TWI has specialist expertise in these areas and can provide a detailed, unbiased assessment of the suitability of any or all of these alternatives for your business.


At a global level, controls on the manufacture, supply and use of solvents are becoming ever tighter and more stringent. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of CHemical substances) is the most substantial single piece of legislation in the European Union and seeks to control and manage the manufacture, import and supply of chemicals at levels of more than 1 tonne per annum. Similar legislation is in force around the world, such as the federal TSCA and EPRCA in the USA, Japan's CSCL and the Chinese MEMNCS. REACH specifically aims to restrict or eliminate the use of certain solvents that "pose an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment" and in particular, those identified as being "of very high concern", such as chlorinated alkanes.

Authorization procedures will ultimately lead to the elimination of these solvents from the marketplace and a consequent need to replace them with safer, more acceptable alternatives; however, there are understandable concerns that the replacement solvents may not perform as well as existing products.

This is where TWI can help. By screening the marketplace of solvents against the Econiqs criteria, REACH registration and certification status and process requirements, we can tailor green solvents around your needs to deliver improved performance and safety for your organization, staff and environment.

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