In the chemical industry organic solvents should be avoided wherever possible. They are often toxic to marine organisms and plants as well as to higher organisms and humans. Moreover, volatile organic compounds (VOC) cause air pollution which leads to the necessity of expensive separation technologies like waste water or exhaust gas treatments. Solutions for these problems are either the development of processes without the use of any solvent or the use of environmentally benign solvents such as water. In this contribution it is shown how versatile water can be, used as a solvent in homogeneously catalysed processes, for example, telomerisation reactions with methanol, diethylamine, ethylene glycol and glycerol. In this context another positive effect of the solvent water is the ecologically and economically required retention of the transition metal catalyst inside the process. Furthermore, different reactor types, a loop reactor and a mixer-settler reactor, are presented to cope with the challenges of mass transport limitations and selectivity control in aqueous biphasic systems.
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