23 June 2017

Unveiled new paths in the world of solvents

Unveiled new paths in the world of solvents

CICECO and QOPNA research team, Department of Chemistry of University of Aveiro, opens the door to the development of more efficient and sustainable separation and purification processes in a wide range of products, using only ionic liquids (non-volatile solvents). The discovery has just been announced in the latest issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, one of the most important scientific journals in the field of physical chemistry.

Catarina Seiça Neves, João Coutinho and Mara Freire from CICECO together with Artur Silva and Ana Fernandes from the Organic Chemistry, Natural Products and Food Stuffs research unit (QOPNA), are the researchers who signed this discovery.

"Given their ionic nature, these solvents are not volatile under atmospheric conditions and therefore have aroused a high interest in the scientific community and industry as promising alternatives to the volatile organic solvents currently used in a wide range of separation processes," explains Catarina Seiça Neves. However, the researcher points out, "ionic liquids tend to be miscible, which conditions their application in liquid-liquid extraction and purification techniques given the need of a second solvent, which tends to be volatile."

This work proved the existence of a new group of immiscible ionic liquids, and therefore totally non-volatile systems that can be used in separation / purification processes. "The phase diagrams were determined for six pairs of ionic liquids and their application in separation processes was demonstrated" says Catarina Seiça Neves. As an example, in this work it was possible to demonstrate the selective separation of dyes from the textile industry using this type of systems.

Prior to publication, the work had already given Catarina Seiça Neves the best poster presentation award at the 8th Green Solvents Conference, which took place in October 2016 in Kiel, Germany.



Toward an Understanding of the Mechanisms behind the Formation of Liquid–liquid Systems formed by Two Ionic Liquids
Catarina M. S. S. Neves, Artur M. S. Silva, Ana M. Fernandes, João A. P. Coutinho, and Mara G. Freire
The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 2017, 8, 3015-3019
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.7b01234

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