A method for preparing organic products from aqueous solutions, such as waste or byproduct liquid streams and waste or byproduct gas or vapor streams, uses phase transfer catalysis to transfer a chemical species in low concentration from the aqueous solution to the organic phase or the aqueous-organic interface. The system has little or no organic solvent, and the organic phase contains an electrophile which participates in the reaction. In one embodiment, the aqueous solution is contacted with the electrophile and a phase transfer catalyst and, optionally, a pH adjusting agent in the event that the chemical species in the aqueous solution is not sufficiently ionized to react with the electrophile, and optionally an organic solvent. A method for continuously converting a chemical species involves this contacting step, separating the phases, then dividing the organic phase into the product, the phase transfer catalyst, and the optional organic solvent.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with Government support under Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant application number 55118-99-1 awarded by the Department of Energy under DOE grant number DE-FG 02-99ER82864. The Government has certain rights in this invention.