03 September 2009

Thionyl Chloride in Water

This is a useful paper. The material safety data sheet of thionyl chloride tells us that it "reacts violently with water" but here we have it being added to water.

The paper is impressive because the safety people who helped to develop the chemistry are obviously competent. Rather than treating hazard evaluation work as a paper exercise they support the chemistry that the chemists push. The paper is also interesting because it shows some incongruous thought: someone thought to themselves, "yeah but what would happen if ..." or "I bet that this would work" and they are lucky enough to work in an environment that allows them to explore these off the wall ideas.

On a related note, someone was loooking for a solvent to do a Friedel-Crafts reaction; he proposed toluene. Everybody laughed at him but his substrate was an anisole; it was a lot more reactive than toluene, the proposed reaction worked.

I wonder how many useful ideas are lost to the small minded ignorance of hierarchical superiors.

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