Supercritical Fluid Shortcomings

Posted by Kara Williams on 3/31/14 2:30 PM


Supercritical fluids are literally amazing. Their scope of usefulness for separation and cleaning is essentially unlimited. However, in the interest of full disclosure and the spirit of April Fools’ Day, Phasex has prepared a list of problems that supercritical fluids are just not cut out to solve.

 

1. Fighting siblings

If you are lucky enough to be a parent, odds are very strong that you have heard – at one time or another – fearsome war-cries echo through your home, followed by the sound of small bodies hitting the floor or walls, possibly replaced by the sound of something expensive breaking into its component molecules.

We are sincerely sorry if it was a family heirloom.

Supercritical fluids can dissolve a complex mixture of industrial lubricants and neatly fractionate them by molecular weight, but that is not nearly as complicated as a martial challenge over the top bunk. There are some things that only a mother’s yell, from the bottom of the diaphragm, is capable of separating.

 

2. Tangled Christmas holiday lights

The annual pain of untangling sparkly lights is capable of turning any jolly old elf into a grinch. No matter how carefully the cords were wound and packed last year, they always seem to be tied into knots by the time they are unpacked. And that is before the odyssey to replace burnt-out bulbs begins. There is no official count of divorces caused by holiday decorations, but that is probably because no one wants to be responsible for tabulating that statistic.

We would love to use the awesome power of supercritical fluids to save marriages, but our recycled solvent technology is simply useless for untangling strings of lights. While we can control temperature and pressure of the supercritical fluid to precipitate out all contaminants, we cannot set our plant to selectively dissolve burnt bulbs. We can, however, contribute to a greener manufacturing environment by being able to completely clean and re-use our supercritical fluids, lowering the amount of industrial waste generated and protecting resources.

 

3. Your fingers, after sticking them together with super glue

Supercritical fluids’ remarkable capacity to replace traditional organic solvents in extraction, purification, and recrystallization, absolutely does not extend to having accidentally applied super glue to oneself. Go ahead and grab a bottle of nail polish remover instead – presuming that the glue has not nullified your bottle grabbing and opening skills.

 

4. The rats’ nest of cables living behind your entertainment center

We know. We saw you eyeing the 300-inch TV at the last Black Friday sale. It would have fit perfectly in your living room, just as soon as you knocked down a wall or two. But your ultimate game night fantasies evaporated, as you realized that you would have to venture into the deep dark recesses behind the TV. What horrors lurk there? The ghost of a Betamax machine might be twining the cords and knotting them together in the night for all that you know.

Supercritical fluids’ pressure dependent solubility can dissolve a mixture and precipitate it out, compound by compound, by precise manipulation of the temperature and pressure. This is not effective for the 400 or so cables you have, lying in wait. It is better to just give up and pay your neighbor’s teenaged child to sort it out for you.

 

5. Teenagers in “love”

There is no tighter bond known to humanity. The bond between teenagers and their “one true love and soulmate” (for now) has the unique property of becoming stronger when attempts to sever it are made. As the scale of their epic romance broadens, costs associated with collateral damage and manslaughter skyrocket (source: Romeo and Juliet). Thankfully, with supercritical fluid processing, the opposite is true. Once a process is scaled up to full plant processing, the associated costs are not nearly as expensive as one might think, and delivers a clean product, free of dangerous or carcinogenic organic solvents.

As for the teenagers, we recommend waiting two weeks.

 

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