Thermal reactions proceed optimally when they are rapidly heated to the highest tolerable temperature, held there for the shortest possible time and then quenched. This is explained through assessments of reaction kinetics in literature examples and models. Although presently available microwave equipment is better suited to rapid heating than resistance-heated systems, the findings do not depend upon the method of heating. Claims that microwave heated reactions proceed faster and more cleanly than their conventionally heated counterparts are valid only when comparably rapid heating and cooling cannot be obtained by conventional heating. These findings suggest that rigid adherence to the sixth principle of green chemistry, relating to the use of ambient temperature and pressure, may not always afford optimal results.
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