A simple approach for the determination and characterization of ternary phase diagrams of aqueous two-phase systems composed of water, polyethylene glycol and sodium carbonate.


In this work, a simple experimental protocol to determine liquid-liquid phase diagrams of aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS) on a Chemical Engineering course is described. Throughout this laboratory set of experiments, the liquid-liquid ternary phase diagrams, tie-lines, tie-line lengths and critical points of ATPS will be determined. Ternary liquid-liquid phase diagrams composed of water, polyethylene glycol (PEG 200, 400 and 600 gámol-1) and sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) were obtained by cloud-point titration method at room temperature. The respective tie-lines, tie-line lengths and critical points were also determined. Phase diagrams were represented both as conventional ternary phase diagrams and orthogonal phase diagrams. Through the analysis of the results obtained it was identified a higher ability to form ATPS with the increase of the polymer molecular weight. The interpretation of phase diagrams, particularly the most complex, the orthogonal ones, is not always easy to grasp by students, so this novel 3-hour-class educational approach could be potentially used to teach and help understanding 3-component liquid-liquid equilibrium and the formation of biphasic systems to undergraduate students, without requiring the use of volatile organic solvents.


Capela, Emanuel V; Santos, Joao H P M; Boal-Palheiros, Isabel; Coutinho, Joao A P; Ventura, Sonia P M; Freire, Mara G

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