Toward the Proactive Design of Sustainable Chemicals: Ionic Liquids as a Prime Example

Stephan Beil, Marta Markiewicz, Cristina Silva Pereira, Piotr Stepnowski, Jorg Thöming, Stefan Stolte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The tailorable and often unique properties of ionic liquids (ILs) drive their implementation into a broad variety of seminal technologies. The modular design of ILs allows in this context a proactive selection of structures that favor environmental sustainability?ideally without compromising their technological performance. To achieve this objective, the whole life cycle must be taken into account and various aspects considered simultaneously. In this review, we discuss how the structural design of ILs affects their environmental impacts throughout all stages of their life cycles and scrutinize the available data in order to point out knowledge gaps that need further research activities. The design of more sustainable ILs starts with the selection of the most beneficial precursors and synthesis routes, takes their technical properties and application specific performance into due account, and considers its environmental fate particularly in terms of their (eco)toxicity, biotic and abiotic degradability, mobility, and bioaccumulation potential. Special emphasis is placed on reported structure-activity relationships and suggested mechanisms on a molecular level that might rationalize the empirically found design criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13132-13173
Number of pages42
JournalChemical Reviews
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021


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