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Aqueous and Biobased Solvents

Water is the original solvent: the solvent of life. And yet, the long history
of the chemical enterprise largely eschewed water as a solvent. As
petrochemical processes came to be dominant, it was considered logical
that organic solvents would be most compatible with hydrocarbon-based
transformations. Research launched in the 20th century but accelerating
in the 21st century has shown that water as a solvent is desirable for many
chemical processes, even those where it was once thought not possible.

Water has been shown in cases to accelerate reaction rates and enhance
selectivity. The performance gains are in addition to benefits such as non-
toxicity, non-flammability, cost-effectiveness, and ready availability in
most instances.

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