Experimental and computational study on the properties of pure and water mixed 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium L-(+)-lactate ionic liquid.

Research paper by Santiago S Aparicio, Rafael R Alcalde, Mert M Atilhan

Indexed on: 13 Apr '10Published on: 13 Apr '10Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry B


Ionic liquids have attracted great attention, from both industry and academe, as alternative fluids for a large collection of applications. Although the term green is used frequently to describe ionic liquids in general, it is obvious that it cannot be applied to the huge quantity of possible ionic liquids, and thus, those with adequate environmental and technological profiles must be selected for further and deeper studies, from both basic science and applied approaches. In this work, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium L-(+)-lactate ionic liquid is studied, because of its remarkable properties, through a wide-ranging approach considering thermophysical, spectroscopic, and computational tools, to gain a deeper insight into its complex liquid structure, both pure and mixed with water, thus implying the main factors that would control the technological applications that could be designed using this fluid. The reported results shows a strongly structured pure ionic liquid, in which hydrogen bonding, because of the hydroxyl group of the lactate anion, develops a remarkable role, together with Coulombic forces to determine the fluid's behavior. Upon mixing with water, the ionic liquid retains its structure up to very high dilution levels, with the effect of the ionic liquid on the water structure being very large, even for very low ionic liquid mole fractions. Thus, in water solution, the studied ionic liquid evolves from noninteracting ions solvated by water molecules toward large interacting structures with increasing ionic liquid content.